Conflicting Reports On
Are the Ravens and Dennis Pitta closing in on a long-term deal?
It depends on who you ask.
The two sides are headed in the right direction and “making progress,” NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday afternoon. Rapoport added that a deal is not imminent.
Yet Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun reported Monday evening that the two sides are “far apart.”
Perhaps the reality is somewhere in between? They are far apart but making progress?
However big the gap, it must be closed by March 3 or the Ravens will either have to franchise Pitta or let him hit the free agent market. If the Ravens choose to assign the tight end franchise tag, Rapoport expects Pitta to file a grievance with the NFL to be tagged as a wide receiver – a difference of nearly $5 million – because he plays in the slot so often.
Preston believes that argument doesn’t hold water, contending the tight end position is simply evolving.
“If that's the case with Pitta, then the Ravens should remind him he got drafted as a tight end, gets introduced as a tight end, is as big and slow as a tight end and plays tight end,” he wrote. “End of conversation. …
“The Ravens really don't need this hassle. Pitta took 79.7 percent of his snaps in the slot last year, but that is all part of the evolution of the tight end position. It's really nothing new. It's used to create space and take advantage of mismatches.”
While Pitta deserves a big payday and a reasonable four- or five-year offer, says Preston, the Ravens can’t mortgage the future on him. This will only be Pitta’s second NFL contract, but he is older than most at his position after taking two years away from college football of to serve an LDS mission in the Dominican Republic.
“[I]f Pitta is going to cause salary cap problems or break the bank, then it's time for the Ravens to let him become an unrestricted free agent. After all, he is 28, not 24 or 25,” Preston wrote.
Allowing Pitta to walk is not viewed as a realistic possibility by tight end-needy teams, says Rapoport, but he would certainly command plenty of interest. The Falcons, Packers, and Patriots are three teams that could be nice fits for Pitta, says CSNBaltimore.com’s Clifton Brown.
“If the Ravens neither franchise Pitta, nor sign him to a new deal, he should have no shortage of options,” Brown wrote.
Torrey Amazed By Clowney’s Mind-Blowing 40
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is a freak of nature.
And I mean that as compliment.
Weighing in at 266 pounds upon his arrival at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, the defensive lineman blew everyone away with his unofficial 4.47 40-yard dash Monday. The official time was 4.53.
Let’s put that in perspective.
Clowney’s performance didn’t go unnoticed by Smith.
“Clowney almost ran the same 40 time as me....he is [too] big to be that gifted haha,” Smith tweeted.
But Smith did offer a wager if the projected No. 1 overall pick ever takes the field with him.
“[B]et he can't catch me on Sunday,” Smith added with a smiley face.
Maybe not, but Clowney would easily track down a fleeing quarterback on the run. Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s best unofficial time was 4.56, and in the GIF below, you can see a foot race between Manziel and Clowney.
NFL Network’s Warren Sapp can't believe his eyes.
Ravens Prospect Winner And Losers
The receiver and tight end combine drills have come to a close, which may have impacted the Ravens’ opinion on some playmaking weapons that would be worth an early draft pick.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley looked at six potential Ravens targets that he separates into combine winners and losers.
TE Eric Ebron (North Carolina)
WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
WR Odell Beckham (LSU)
WR Jarvis Landry (LSU)
WR Marqise Lee (USC)
TE Jace Amaro (Texas Tech)
The problem is Ebron and Evans may have had too good of a showing and may have pushed their stock higher than the Ravens’ No. 17 overall pick.
“[Ebron] didn't disappoint,” Hensley wrote. “His 40-yard time (4.6 seconds) was the second best for his position. He has all the measurables for the position, checking in at 6-foot-4 with big hands (10 inches). If he can improve as a blocker, Ebron will be the total package.”
Evans, who was the most popular projection to the Ravens in the latest round of mock drafts, may have solidified himself as the best wide receiver behind Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and both could be long gone by the time the Ravens reach the clock.
And if you’re wondering if Ravens brass would trade up to snap either one, don’t be on it.
“While the Ravens have shown in the past that they won’t hesitate on draft day to move back or forward, this is being billed as one of the deepest drafts in years and I can’t see them sacrificing picks,” The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec wrote.
“For one, they’ll likely only have four picks to deal because league rules prohibit teams from trading compensatory selections. For that reason, it’s probably much more likely that the Ravens would trade back in the first round to gather a few more selections than to move forward.”
Bart Scott Joins ‘NFL Today’
CBS announced that former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott will join ‘The NFL Today’ in 2014. The news comes after the network parted ways with former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe.
“Bart joining The NFL Today is a natural progression from his outstanding work during his first season," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a news release. “Bart brings a dynamic personality and unique perspective as a recently retired player providing strong opinions on all the hot-button issues on a weekly basis. We are confident he will continue to bring that perspective and those opinions to 'The NFL Today.'"
Scott, 33, didn’t play last season after a serious toe injury which required surgery. But apparently, he had an opportunity to return to the field.
The free-agent inside linebacker had workouts set up with multiple teams, according to USA Today's Tom Pelissero. The Browns "wanted him badly," as he played for Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine for 11 years with the Ravens and Jets.
But his toe injury prevented any serious movement, and Scott ultimately chose the TV gig over another run at football.
We wish Scott the best of luck, and look forward to hearing his analysis Sunday mornings.
- @MikePrestonSun: Ravens working hard to re-sign their own free agents. LB
Daryl Smithmight be done in a day or two. No promises. [Twitter]
- @JasonLaCanfora: RB Terrance West rose from the streets of "The Wire" to the NFL combine. He returned home a happy man last night. [Twitter | CBSSports.com]
- @sportswcoleman: If #Ravens Ozzie Newsome is pushing for penalty over N word. Good. Hope he enforces same in own locker room as player music lyrics utter same. [Twitter]
- Catching up with retired Ravens center Matt Birk. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Pro Football Focus conducted a 2014 quarterback accuracy breakdown, and
Joe Flaccoranked as the sixth-least accurate at 67.8 percent. Known for his strong arm, Flacco even ranked as the second-worst deep passer with a 26.1 accuracy percentage. [Pro Football Focus]