Eisenberg: Devil's Advocate Questions on C.J. Mosley Contract Negotiations


Do the Ravens want to sign linebacker C.J. Mosley to a contract extension? That's not much of a question.

Of course they want to retain their homegrown defensive centerpiece, a three-time Pro Bowl selection whose rookie contact expires after the 2018 season.

But do they want him enough to shell out the big bucks he surely wants, turning him into one of the NFL's highest-paid defensive players?

That's a more interesting question and one the Ravens are duty bound to explore given that they've recently handed out a few contracts that haven't looked so great a few years down the line.

It's an exercise that requires someone to play devil's advocate and ask tough questions, and since I brought all this up, I suppose I should volunteer. So here goes:

While Mosley's talents are obvious and his statistics make his case for him, is he truly dominant, i.e., a player who controls games along the lines of a Ray Lewis or Luke Kuechly?

OK, the Lewis comparison isn't fair, as Mosley knows. Remember when he said his goal was to be the second-best linebacker in Ravens history? That comment was indicative of Mosley's level head and innate humility, two of the many qualities the Ravens like about him.

But if I'm being honest, I can't say Mosley always controls scrimmage along the lines of a Kuechly, who is the game's highest-paid inside linebacker, having signed a five-year $61.8 million deal in 2015, two years after he won the league's Defensive Player of the Year award.

As good as Mosley is, he's never been in the running for that award. Yet it'll probably take more than Kuechly's deal to sign him since we're three years down the road and prices tend to go up.

With all that in mind, the Ravens certainly should at least discuss whether it would be smart for them to find another young linebacker, presumably in the draft, and use the money they save on Mosley to retain several other players.

But remember, I'm just playing devil's advocate, asking due-diligence questions that must be asked. In my opinion, even if Mosley isn't a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, he IS worth the big bucks he can command.

If the Ravens were to decide otherwise and let him walk after the 2018 season, they would struggle to find a replacement as talented, productive and dependable. I think it would set them back.

Mosley has astonished his teammates from the outset of his career with his natural gifts. His teammates call him "Half Man, Half Amazing," comparing him to Spiderman.

His stats speak volumes. Mosley is one of just two NFL players, Kuechly being the other, to record 450 tackles, five interceptions and five sacks since 2014. Among linebackers, Mosley's eight interceptions over that span is exceeded only by Kuechly's nine.

Perhaps most importantly, given how injuries have undermined the Ravens lately, Mosley has missed just two of 48 games in his career. And he's still young, due to turn 26 in June, with plenty of good football ahead of him.

Frankly, whatever the cost, the Ravens would be nuts to part ways with a player who is in his prime, calls their defensive signals, keeps himself in shape and has quietly become a locker room leader.

But all that led to the assumption that a new contract was inevitable, and it hasn't happened. We haven't heard about any negotiations since Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said in February that the two sides had started talking.

Of course, the urgency has eased a bit now that the Ravens have enough salary cap space to add a player without having to cut someone. When they were tighter against the cap earlier this year, signing Mosley was one route they could have taken to free up space.

The Ravens actually have until March 2019 to reach a deal that keeps Mosley from hitting free agency. I don't know if it will happen before, during or after the 2018 season, but I fully expect it to get done -- yes, at quite a cost, but in this case, worth it.

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