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Eisenberg: Fact And Opinion On Nick Mangold, Jabrill Peppers And More


Opinion: In the next few weeks, you'll read a thousand thoughts about what the Ravens might do in the first round of the draft, but here's some evidence to mull: "He's a very versatile player and I expect him to be an impact player in the NFL," Head Coach John Harbaugh said last week about (drum roll) Michigan's Jabrill Peppers. Though listed as a safety, Peppers is a unique player, strong enough to handle inside linebacker, according to Harbaugh. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Ravens take him.

Fact: The Ravens brought free agent center Nick Mangold to Baltimore last week, but the seven-time Pro Bowl selection, formerly with the New York Jets, left without signing a deal.

Opinion: The absence of a deal is meaningless. The market for Mangold, 33, isn't sizzling, and delays always benefit teams rather than players, who tend to become anxious the longer they sit on the open market without a deal. I've stated from the outset that I think Mangold could be a nice fit. The Ravens want to get bigger and better at center, but they also need someone who can handle the offensive line calls. If Mangold doesn't cost too much, and I don't think he will, the only question is the ankle injury that caused him to miss half of last season. If the Ravens are OK with it, he's a sensible addition.

Fact: The possibility of Anquan Boldin rejoining the Ravens became a popular conversation topic after Harbaugh told reporters at the league meetings he believed Boldin "could still play at the highest level."

Opinion: I'm usually dubious about reunions with popular players, but this one could work. Boldin caught 67 passes, eight for touchdowns, with the Detroit Lions in 2016. That's solid production. He'll turn 37 in October, but receivers can still play at that age. My only objection is if the Ravens think adding Boldin is all they need to do to complete their 2017 receiving corps. I'm not sure about that. He only averaged 8.7 yards per catch last season, and the Ravens need to become more explosive.

Fact: The Ravens announced Tuesday that they have re-signed Lardarius Webb after cutting him last month in a salary cap-dictated move.

Opinion: After starting 16 games in 2016 (and 83 since 2009), Webb is being brought back in a different role, as more of a utility man in the secondary, able to play safety, cornerback, nickel, you name it. He provides high-caliber depth at places where the Ravens have lacked that in recent years. The only question is how he handles playing with guys who have been given jobs ahead of him.

Fact: According to Spotrac, the Ravens currently have more than $15 million in 2017 salary cap "dead money" – commitments (not real dollars) going to players no longer on the team – which leads the NFL. The top figures are Eugene Monroe ($4.4 million), Shareece Wright ($2.66 million), Elvis Dumervil ($2.375 million), Jeremy Zuttah ($2.21 million) and Webb ($2 million from his old contract).

Opinion: Need a trivia question you can win a bet with? I've got one. (You're welcome.) Can you name the five most recent Ravens draft picks to play in the Pro Bowl? The answer is linebacker C.J. Mosley (2014, first round), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (2013, fourth round), guard Kelechi Osemele (2011, second round), quarterback Tyrod Taylor (2011, sixth round) and running back Cedric Peerman (2009, sixth round). That last one makes it a borderline trick question. Peerman made the Pro Bowl for his special teams play with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015.

Fact: If the Ravens only use the seven 2017 draft picks they currently own, it would be their smallest draft class since 2010, when they also made seven picks. But it's not close to their smallest class ever. They had just four picks in 1999. Yup. Look it up.

Opinion: Kudos to both Ravens who made uniform-number news Monday. New safety Tony Jefferson took the high road by saluting Webb, his elder, whose job he took, and giving 21 back to the longtime Raven. And Tavon Young switched to number 25 so Jefferson could take 23. Young also noted in a tweet that he was saluting Tray Walker, who wore 25, even though Walker died in a motorcycle accident a month before the Ravens drafted Young. Clearly, Walker's memory lives on among the defensive backs.

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