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Late For Work 3/12: Ravens Linked To 6 High Profile Players

Posted Mar 12, 2014

Steve Smith, Edelman, Sanders, Daniels, Pettigrew and Mack all linked. Safety market shrinking.


Ravens Linked To 6 High Profile Players

With agents floating out team interest to try to get buzz around their clients, we can’t buy into all the rumors about free agents linked to the Ravens.

Our own Ryan Mink poked fun at some of Ravens rumors being floated out.

“So according to reports, #Ravens are going to get Steve Smith, Julian Edelman, Owen Daniels, Alex Mack AND Eugene Monroe. Who knew?!?!” he tweeted. “Oh yeah, I forgot the #Ravens are also supposedly going to sign TE Brandon Pettrigrew. Pitta, Daniels and Pettigrew. WOAH!

While quarterback Joe Flacco probably won’t have five new veteran targets – with a Pro Bowl center leading the line – there is a chance that one or two of these materialize.

As of now, the idea of adding veteran wide receiver Steve Smith is picking up some steam … if he is released.

“Today might be the day when the Carolina Panthers make a final decision on perennial Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith, who very well could be released and wind up at the top of the Ravens’ wish list at the position,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “Smith is 34 years old and has probably lost a step or two, but as I wrote in this space Monday, he is a very good fit for what the Ravens need. And his addition would also continue the Ravens’ habit of signing free agents released by other teams, thus not affecting the team’s ability to get draft pick compensation.”

Let’s take a look at each:

WR Steve Smith
Report: The Carolina Panthers unsuccessfully shopped Smith around for a trade, and now could cut him to avoid a $7 million hit to the salary cap. If Smith hits the open market, the Ravens are expected to emerge as a “strong potential landing spot,” per The Sun’s Aaron Wilson.
Stats: 34 years old (14-year veteran), 5-foot-9, 185 pounds; 2013: 64 catches, 745 yards, 4 TDs
Fit with Ravens: The five-time Pro Bowler would bring a toughness to the Ravens’ receiving corps, and has the ability to get under his opponents’ skin. He knows how to produce, churning out an obscene amount of career yards (12,197) and touchdowns (67), and would nicely fit opposite Torrey Smith the way Anquan Boldin did as a rough and tough complementary piece. Turning 35 in May, one could argue Smith is as good or better than many receivers 10 years younger.

WR Julian Edelman
Report:
To the surprise of many, the New England Patriots were not able to lock down their most productive receiver last season, as Edelman turned down a three-year offer and is now an unrestricted free agent. The Ravens have “definite interest” in Edelman, even though it hasn’t materialized into a visit or contract offer yet, according to Wilson. Baltimore is among the teams in the mix to acquire Edelman, added The Carroll County Times’ Matt Zenitz.
Stats:
27 years old (6-year veteran), 5-10, 198; 2013: 105 catches, 1,056 yards, 6 TDs
Fit with Ravens:
The sure-handed slot receiver, who can pick up yards after the catch, could be a chain-moving target the Ravens seek. Edelman excels in the slot, although he’s not limited there, displaying toughness and reliability. Last year was the first he made it through the season without injury. Was 2013 a one-year wonder as a beneficiary of a Tom Brady system? Maybe, but it was receiver Danny Amendola who got the big contract to fill Wes Welker’s role. Amendola came up short, and Edelman stepped up. Edelman is also a dangerous punt returner.

WR Emmanuel Sanders
Report:
The Ravens have a “high opinion” of the free agent wide receiver after facing him for four years as a Pittsburgh Steeler, per Wilson. That opinion hasn’t developed into anything substantive, including a visit or offer.  Sanders has also been rumored to be of interest to the Browns and Patriots.
Stats:
26 years old (5-year veteran), 5-11, 180 pounds; 2013: 67 catches, 740 yards, 6 TDs
Fit with Ravens:
Another slot option after being used as the No. 2 receiver in Pittsburgh last year. “Sanders appeared in every game last season and started 10,” ESPN’s Bill Polian wrote. “A diminutive, but quick and elusive athlete, Sanders does his best work out of the slot, though he doesn't have the ideal build to withstand the punishment that goes along with playing close to the ball and drops too many passes.”

TE Owen Daniels
Report:
The Houston Texans surprisingly cut Daniels yesterday, with a failed physical designation, to save on his $6.25 million salary-cap figure. As a cap casualty, Daniels could be of interest to General Manager Ozzie Newsome because he would favor the compensatory pick formula. The Ravens will “definitely evaluate the merits” of potentially having Daniels work in tandem with Dennis Pitta, says Wilson. His name came up several times at Ravens headquarters yesterday and new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak “loves him,” reported NFL Media’s Aditi Kinkhabwala.  
Stats: 31 years old (8-year veteran), 6-3, 249; 2013: 24 catches, 252 yards, 3 TDs (five games)
Fit with Ravens:
Daniels obviously creates an intriguing option for the Ravens after he worked with the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator in Houston for eight years. Kubiak’s offense frequently features double tight end sets, but Daniels is coming off a season mostly spent on injured reserve with a broken fibula. Daniels is a pass-catching tight end and is an effective red-zone target with a large catch radius. He is not considered a strong blocker, which is also a knock on Pitta’s game.

TE Brandon Pettigrew
Report:  
There are “whispers” that the Ravens are interested in tight end Brandon Pettigrew, according to The Sun’s Mike Preston. Pettigrew wasn’t re-signed by the Detroit Lions after they selected him in first round of the 2009 draft.
Stats:
29 years old (6-year veteran), 6-5, 265 pounds; 2013: 41 catches, 416 yards, 2 TDs
Fit with Ravens:
As opposed to Daniels and Pitta, Pettigrew qualifies as a throwback blocking tight end. “He’s one of the best all-around tight ends, from a blocking and receiving standpoint,” one NFL personnel director told USA TODAY Sports. “He will have drops (in the passing game). But they also didn’t use him.”

C Alex Mack
Report:
Prior to signing left tackle Eugene Monroe, NFL Media’s Ian Rapport said the Ravens were plotting a backup plan to land Browns center Alex Mack, who has been given the transition tag designation. That means the Ravens could make an offer to Mack that the Browns could choose to match. With Monroe locked up, it’s unclear if the Ravens would still try to make a move.
Stats: 28 years old (6-year veteran), 6-4, 311; started all 80 games of his career
Fit with Ravens:
The two-time Pro Bowler would become the unquestioned starter ahead of third-year player Gino Gradkowski, and anchor the offensive line. You wouldn’t pull off a move of this proportion to simply compete. But could the Ravens really lure Mack out of Cleveland with an offer that the Browns couldn’t match? Mack’s agent told SI.com’s Peter King he is “confident” he could come up with a structure that would have a “reasonable likelihood” to not be matched.

NFL Spent $1 Billion Yesterday

This is bananas! Just bananas.

In a half day, the NFL spent $1 BILLION dollars, according to King. That’s 64 player signings for an estimated total of $1,001,500,000.

One billion is a league first.

“The mayhem is not over,” King added. “Some of the biggest names in the game are on the street or on the verge of being there, their fate to be determined perhaps by the time you read this. … As Wednesday dawns, the craziest thing I can think to say is this: Today could be loonier than yesterday.”

Safety Market Shrinking On Ravens

The Ravens are in need of a free safety, and the pool from which to draw is shrinking.

Ten safeties have signed since Tuesday:

Jarius Byrd to Saints: six years, $54 million
Donte Whitner to Browns: four years, $28 million
Mike Mitchell to Steelers: five years, $25 million
Antoine Bethea to 49ers: four years, $23 million
T.J. Ward to Broncos: four years, $23 million
Malcolm Jenkins to Eagles: three years, $16.25 million
Ryan Mundy to Bears: two years, money not reported
Stevie Brown to Giants: one year, $4 million
Louis Delmas to Dolphins: one year, $2.25 million

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley said yesterday that the Ravens are left with few options, and that was when only six safeties had signed.

“The Ravens need to target Chris Clemons, the underrated safety from the Miami Dolphins who has drawn interest from the Jets,” Hensley wrote. “He is a hybrid who played strong safety last season but is equally as effective in pass defense. Another option is moving a veteran cornerback to safety like Champ Bailey or Antonio Cromartie. That should be a contingency plan. 

“A third choice is Thomas DeCoud, who was cut by the Falcons on Tuesday. There's a question on which DeCoud will show up. In 2012, DeCoud went to the Pro Bowl after making six interceptions, which ranked second among NFL safeties. Last season, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan called out DeCoud for slumping.”

Ravens Get A Bargain With Monroe; Ozzie ‘Masterful’

The Ravens got a bargain with Monroe after they signed him to a five-year deal reportedly worth $37.5 million ($7.5 million per year average.)

The breakdown of the deal is as follows, according to multiple reports.

2014: $3.2 million
2015: $7.7 million
2016: $8.7 million
2017: $8.95 million
2018: $8.95 million

“The Ravens did it again,” wrote The Sun’s Matt Vensel. “From the outside looking in, their handling of the Monroe situation was masterful. They put an offer on the table for him and didn’t blink when Monroe and his agent were able to shop it on the open market.

“Instead of panicking and overpaying for a solid but not elite left tackle, the Ravens arguably got the best bargain out of the group of top free-agent tackles that included Branden Albert (signed by Miami), Jared Valdheer (Arizona) and Rodger Saffold (Oakland).”

Now the Ravens are left with enough cap space (reported $15.8 million) to make another significant signing. Perhaps with one of the players mentioned above?

Graham, Dickson Lining Up Visits

Ravens cornerback Corey Graham doesn’t have to travel far to make his first free agent visit of the offseason with the Washington Redskins, according to The Washington Post. Also keep an eye on the Dolphins as a potential suitor, says ESPN’s Adam Caplan.

The first rumbling for free agent tight Ed Dickson has surfaced, although there’s not much substance.

“No deal is imminent, but several teams have expressed interest in TE Ed Dickson,” tweeted Zenitz.

Quick Hits

  • @TheSeventyFifth [Monroe]: Receiving a lot of love from Baltimore and Ravens fans
  • Jones is visiting with the Giants today … @TheRealJacoby12: And it begins.........???????? [Twitter]
  • @jamisonhensley: With Ware, Peppers and Allen on the market, Suggs was smart to sign that extension with #Ravens and avoid free agency. [Twitter]
  • Dolphins guard Jonathan Martin, who left the team after being bullied by teammates, was traded to the San Francisco 49ers to be reunited with his Stanford college coach Jim Harbaugh. [49ers.com]
  • @RapSheet: The #Cowboys are set to release WR Miles Austin and designate him a post-June 1 cut, per source.
  • @ProFootballTalk: Golden Tate to visit with Lions
  • @MMehtaNYDN: Where's Eric Decker? According to @brelennon & @sbiggydiggy23, he was on flight that landed in Newark Tues. night. Visiting the Jets? #nyj [Twitter]

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