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Late For Work 3/11: Rolando McClain Comeback, Watch Julian Edelman & Steve Smith

Posted Mar 11, 2014

Rolando: I need to come back and be a Raven. Ravens’ wish list. 4 teams like Jacoby. Graham drawing interest.


Rolando: I Need To Come Back And Be A Raven

He’s working out and appears to be gearing up for an NFL comeback … and the Ravens own his rights.

Heck, he’s even got plans for his first crab cake when he gets to town at Jimmy’s Seafood.

Of course, we’re talking about none other than 24-year-old linebacker Rolando McClain.

“Judging by the love from twitter, I need to comeback and be a #Raven,” McClain tweeted last night. “Appreciate the love and the hate. This time gone be so much better than the 1st time.”

McClain retweeted a story from Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County Times, which reported McClain plans on un-retiring and playing this year. The troubled linebacker abruptly retired last offseason, and has been in a “self-imposed exile” in Tuscaloosa, Ala., after being arrested for the third time in a 17-month period. He called it quits just two weeks after signing with the Ravens last May.

The former No. 8-overall pick said he wanted "to focus on getting my personal life together."

"I was feeling like Aaron Hernandez or something, like I just wanted to kill somebody," he told ESPN the Magazine in October, referring to the former New England Patriots tight end jailed on a murder charge.

McClain is in a better place mentally and has gotten his life in order. He regularly works out and is in “good shape.”

 The Ravens are in need of inside linebackers.

They cut Jameel McClain two weeks ago, and they’re working on re-signing veteran Daryl Smith. But after Rolando’s bizarre exit so soon after the team took a chance on him, it remains unknown whether the Ravens would take him back.

He wouldn’t be expensive. If the Ravens will have him, McClain would still be under a one-year deal for $700,000, according to Brian McFarland of Russell Street Report.

Money wouldn’t be the concern, however.

‘Would the Ravens want him back?” asked CSNBaltimore.com’s Ray Frager. “That would partly depend on whether the club wants to add a player with a dicey legal history at a time when three members of the roster have been arrested in the offseason.”

Edelman Predicted To Land In Baltimore

As of late last night, the New England Patriots were still continuing their negotiation with wide receiver Julian Edelman. In fact, they have gotten “aggressive” in the final 24 hours before free agency in an attempt to keep him off the market, per The Boston Herald.

Edelman and quarterback Tom Brady were even spotted working out together.

But it’s not known how far apart the two sides are, and Edelman could be an unrestricted free agent today at 4 p.m.

“In the end, the market will ultimately dictate, as the Patriots' proposals haven't been enticing enough at this time for Edelman to commit to it,” wrote ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss.

If Edelman does slip through the Patriots’ fingers, SI.com’s Chis Burke predicts the 27-year-old receiver will land in Baltimore.

“Will Edelman actually leave New England? If he does, a short trip to Baltimore could be in the cards,” Burke wrote. “The Ravens find themselves in a strong cap situation (nearly $25 million available), so why not drop some to bring in another proven threat for the offense? Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta and Edelman would provide Joe Flacco three very reliable targets.”

There’s a lot to like with Edelman.

He caught 105 passes last season for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns. After his days as a college quarterback, he displays quickness, burst, toughness, precise route running and excels in the slot, although is not limited there. The Ravens are looking for a move-the-chains pass catcher like Edelman, and he could help fill the void left by Anquan Boldin. Additionally, he would bring punt-return skills to the special teams unit.

The knock on Edelman is that he is a system receiver, and benefited from catching passes from future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. His big 2013 season could prove to be a one-hit wonder if he were to join a different team.

Edelman could cost some dough. Former NFL agent and National Football Post analyst Joel Corry told The Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson that Edelman could cost over $5 million a year.

Clifton Brown isn’t buying the knock on Edelman, and believes he would be an ideal fit with the Ravens offense.

“The Patriots may re-sign Edelman, but if he hits free agency the Ravens should pounce,” Brown wrote. “His ability to work underneath routes would add an important element to the Ravens, who struggled to convert third downs last season. Only 27 years old, Edelman is also a good punt returner.

“Joe Flacco would love Edelman as much as Tom Brady does.”  

Free Agent WRs Expected On Ravens’ Wish List

If Edelman remains in New England, there are plenty of other options.

Per a Wilson source, in addition to Edelman, the following players are “expected to be on [the Ravens’] wish list:”

WR Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh Steelers)
WR Golden Tate (Seattle Seahawks)
WR Dexter McCluster (Kansas City Chiefs)

"Sanders knows the division, is tough and has the tools to be a returner,” Corry told Wilson. “He and Tate will probably cost between $5 million and $6 million. McCluster is kind of a jack of all trades where he's also a returner and might be cheaper."

There are several factors working against the wide receiver free agent group as a whole this year, says CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora, which could work in the Ravens’ favor in getting them for good value.

“One: It's just not that good and several players already have re-signed with their current teams,” La Canfora wrote. “Two: The upcoming draft is loaded with very good, very cheap labor ready to step up and take jobs. Throw in the fact that guys who were once viewed as big-time players have fallen hard the past few years (Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt), plus the fact that receiver salaries got way out of whack last year at the top of the market – which screams market correction – and things look even more bleak for this bunch.”

As such, La Canfora believes Nicks will have to settle for a “short-term prove-it contract” and could linger long enough for a “judicious team like the Ravens” to get involved.  Some will be surprised by the market for Arizona Cardinals slot receiver Andre Roberts, says La Canfora, and McCluster will be “snapped up quickly” given his special teams prowess.

Steve Smith Trade Worth Monitoring

The Carolina Panthers are attempting to trade wide receiver Steve Smith after 13 seasons with the team, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

A trade is unlikely, however, as Smith is scheduled to make a $7 million dent on the cap and is 34 years old. If Carolina can’t find a trade partner, it would cost $3 million to cut him.

It’s a situation that is worth the Ravens monitoring, says The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.

“It’s too early to speculate being that Smith is not yet available, but I’d have to imagine that he’d garner significant interest from the Ravens,” Zrebiec wrote. “He possesses many of the qualities that General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company are looking for in a receiver.

“He can work in the slot, he has good hands, he’s dangerous after the catch, and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Adding him to a group of targets that includes Pitta, Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown and probably an early round draft choice of either a tight end or a wide receiver would be a significant step to an impressive offseason makeover.”

Four Teams Interested In Jacoby

At least four teams want to schedule a visit with Ravens pending free agent receiver Jacoby Jones, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson. 

However, Anderson added that it is not likely that he’ll oblige all four teams. His first visit should come soon after free agency opens today.

“It doesn’t surprise me that wide receiver-kick returner Jacoby Jones has attracted significant interest,” wrote Zrebiec. “Jones made quite a highlight film the past two seasons, and there will always be a market for speed and playmaking ability. However, I don’t blame the Ravens for sticking to their plan and not going overboard to keep him off the free-agent market. No disrespect to Jones, a big game-player who probably should have been the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player. But I agree with the school of thought that he’s a luxury item at this point.”

Graham Drawing Wide Interest

The Ravens would like to re-sign cornerback Corey Graham, but he is drawing wide interest from multiple teams around the NFL.

Media reports link Graham to the Redskins, Giants and Eagles.

“If Graham stays with the Ravens, they may have to outbid at least one of those teams,” Brown wrote.

After signing with the Ravens as a special teams ace two years ago, Baltimore gave Graham his chance on defense and he excelled. He started in 2012 and worked as the team’s third cornerback behind Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb last season. Graham was huge in the Ravens’ 2012 Super Bowl run, in which he intercepted Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning twice in the divisional playoff victory.

The Sun’s Matt Vensel believes Graham might not be easy to replace if he leaves via free agency.

“That’s not to say the Ravens can’t find a cornerback in the draft or sign another someone with something to prove like they did with Graham,” Vensel wrote. “But the potential loss shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Quick Hits

  • @RapSheet [NFL Media]: One team showing very real interest in #Ravens DE Arthur Jones is the #Colts. The interest is mutual. Jones has gotten a lot of play so far. [Twitter]
  • “The Packers are very high on Baltimore's Arthur Jones, sources said, as are the Colts and Giants,” wrote La Canfora. [CBSSports.com]
  • @Artj97: Tomorrow my future in the NFL will be determined don't think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight. #bigkidonxmaseve   :-) [Twitter]
  • @RavensInsider: The Titans are interested in linebacker Jameel McClain, according to a league source. Visited Vikings today [Twitter]
  • @jamisonhensley: No surprise that the #Ravens aren't tendering WR Tandon Doss as a restricted free agent. Would you pay him $1.4 million for one season? [Twitter]
  • @AdamSchefter: Steelers will release LB LaMarr Woodley at 4 ET Tuesday, designate him a post June 1 casualty, per source. He will be free to sign Tuesday. [Twitter]
  • @ProFootballTalk: Report: Jarret Johnson takes $1 million pay cut [Twitter]
  • @RavensSalaryCap: W/ McClellan signed, Doss non-tendered & 6 ERFAs 2 b tendered, Ravens will (barring other moves) enter FA period w/ approx $21M in Cap space [Twitter]
  • “Suppose, at the dawn of free agency today at 4 p.m. ET, you could buy a 28-year-old player, injury-free and a solid leader,” wrote Peter King. “All analysts would say this guy is a top-five player at his position with seven or eight prime seasons ahead. Suppose he wanted to leave his current team and would structure a contract to make that happen. Suppose he’d been in the NFL for 80 games and started every one of them. And suppose you could do a deal with this player for, say, about 8 percent of your salary cap over the next four or five years. … It would be tempting. That is the case of center Alex Mack. … Late Monday, Mack’s agent, Marvin Demoff, told me he thinks he could write a deal that would be tough for the Browns to match.” [MMQB.com]
  • “Tight end Ed Dickson is seemingly heading into free agency at the worst possible time, coming off a season in which he had just 25 catches in 16 games. However, he may just take advantage of a pretty thin group of free-agent tight ends,” wrote Zrebiec. “Dickson, who has a lot of talent but could probably use a change of scenery, is one of the top second-tier options, and he should be pretty attractive to teams that don’t want to pay top dollar for a tight end. Both New York teams along with the Lions are among those reportedly interested in the 26-year-old.” [The Baltimore Sun]

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