Eisenberg: 50 Words or Less

QB Lamar Jackson

Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:

This week's headlines about the salary cap probably rising sharply in 2022 furthered my conviction that next year is the best time to sign Lamar Jackson to a new deal. But the Ravens should still try to do it sooner, mostly to avoid that point where the clock starts ticking.

Jackson was lighthearted to the point of playful on the subject of his contract negotiations during his brief session with the media this week. But make no mistake, behind that playfulness is a determined young man who wants the full extent of what he believes he has coming.

If this past week's open-to-the-media OTA practice at the Under Armour Performance Center is any indication (and I believe it is), class is very much in session for the Ravens' young wide receivers. They were constantly getting earfuls from their position coach, Tee Martin, and Pass Game Specialist Keith Williams.

There's little chance the Julio Jones saga ends with him here. His big contract is the hindrance. The close-to-the-cap Ravens would have to restructure deals and/or possibly give up on signing several of their best young players to extensions in order to fit Jones in. I don't see that happening.

Although, as usual, a handful of veterans skipped this past week's OTA workouts, which are strictly voluntary, the Ravens have to feel good about how many players did attend. Some veterans don't need offseason hand-holding, but young players definitely benefit from the extra practice time and classroom time.

One of the rituals of spring workouts, even in a pandemic, is seeing how much the bodies of second-year players have changed after a year under team control. My unscientific observations include wide receiver Devin Duvernay clearly looking stronger and defensive lineman Broderick Washington definitely looking more sculpted.

Although one should never read too much into what you see in a contact-free May practice, second-year tight Eli Wolf looked the part of a player who possibly could fit into the Ravens' offense. The former Georgia product is fluid, athletic and worked the middle of the field quite nicely.

Josh Oliver, another candidate for the No. 3 tight end job, also looked sharp. Between Wolf, Oliver, Jake Breeland, Eric Tomlinson and hybrids Pat Ricard and Ben Mason, the Ravens truly have an abundance of players who could potentially log snaps at tight end after Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle.

Defensive backs comprise 20 percent of the Ravens' current roster (18 out of 89 players), which sounds like overkill, but half or more will make the final 53 as cornerbacks, safeties or special-teamers, and another four or five will make the practice squad. There'll actually be few subtractions.

It has been speculated Alejandro Villanueva, the projected starter at right tackle, would "swing" to the left side, where he played in Pittsburgh, if Ronnie Stanley isn't ready to start the season. For now, though, it appears the Ravens are more focused on getting Villanueva accustomed to his new position.

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