Is Chuck Clark's Future With Ravens in Doubt?
Safety Chuck Clark has been a team leader and integral part of the Ravens' defense over the past three seasons.
However, the Ravens selecting Kyle Hamilton in the first round, combined with their signing of free agent Marcus Williams earlier in the offseason, has raised questions about Clark's future in Baltimore.
A cryptic tweet by Clark Friday added fuel to speculation that he might be looking for a change of scenery.
There's been no indication that Clark has made a formal trade request, but The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said Clark is "apparently unhappy with how a few things have played out this offseason."
When Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked at Saturday's rookie minicamp about Clark's future, he made it clear that he views the veteran as an important member of the team.
"Chuck [Clark] is a big part of this team, and I'm planning on Chuck being here," Harbaugh said. "I'm not going to worry about all the other stuff. The other stuff is the other stuff. It's part of pro football, I understand it. But I love Chuck Clark, I love the way he plays, and I'm very happy that he's a Raven."
There's no denying that Clark is beloved by teammates and coaches, but as Harbaugh alluded, there's a business side to football.
"He has two years left on a team-friendly deal that pays him a base salary of $2.75 million this year. If the Ravens had visions of extending his contract, this would have been the offseason to do it," Zrebiec wrote. "Instead, they went out and made Williams the seventh highest-paid safety in football and then used the first of their two first-rounders on Hamilton.
"Clark lives in Baltimore year round and he's said in the past that this is where he wants to be. However, the Williams and Hamilton additions this offseason certainly make his future murkier."
Zrebiec noted that if Clark does request a trade, the Ravens will likely try to accommodate him, as they did when Hayden Hurst, Orlando Brown Jr. and Marquise Brown wanted to move on.
That said, the Ravens aren't going to make any deals that don't benefit them. As General Manager Eric DeCosta has said, the Ravens always have to win the trade.
"It just doesn't make a ton of sense for the Ravens to trade Clark, unless they are presented with a really good offer, like an early-round draft choice or a solid player who fills a need," Zrebiec wrote.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said there would be a market for Clark if he was available.
"I'm hearing that multiple teams checked in on his status on draft night in light of Baltimore drafting safety Kyle Hamilton at No. 14 overall — presumably to pair him with Marcus Williams for a backfield tandem," Fowler wrote. "Clark isn't requesting a trade but wants to play, which is why he would welcome a potential change. Maybe nothing happens, but it's worth noting."
Zrebiec pointed specifically to the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and New York Jets as teams looking for safety help. Clark could reunite with Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale with the Giants.
Are Injuries, Conditioning a Concern With Some of Baltimore's Draft Picks?
It was noted in yesterday’s Late for Work that some NFL executives were critical of the Ravens' draft class for various reasons.
Fowler has added to the narrative by reporting that some teams feel several of the Ravens' picks were risky due to health concerns.
"Multiple scouts pointed out that two of their picks in the first four rounds — pass-rusher David Ojabo (second round) and cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis (fourth round) — face injury questions that could affect their short-term production," Fowler wrote. "Ojabo is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered at his pro day and thus is not a slam dunk to play next year. Armour-Davis, meanwhile, has a hip injury that teams have evaluated, and some have concerns about how he will hold up long term because corners can have trouble in man coverage if there's stiffness there. Baltimore GM Eric DeCosta said he trusted his doctors in a thorough evaluation of Armour-Davis.
"Other teams also had concerns about fourth-round offensive tackle Daniel Faalele's conditioning, and I heard some of the same with defensive tackle Travis Jones, who was a popular second-round pick in mock drafts but slipped to the third. So while the Ravens had a typically strong draft on paper, they will need good health to prove this one right."
Would Ravens' Run-Oriented Offense Deter Jarvis Landry From Signing?
The Ravens are reportedly interested in signing Jarvis Landry, but would the veteran wide receiver be interested in coming to Baltimore?
There has been speculation the past few years that established wide receivers don't view the Ravens as a desirable destination because of their run-oriented offense. Harbaugh disputed that notion on Saturday, saying the Ravens have had "a lot of conversations with veteran receivers that want to be here."
Last offseason, JuJu Smith-Schuster opted to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers despite, according to him, the Ravens offering him more money. He said the Ravens weren't even his second choice (that was the Kansas City Chiefs), citing their "heavy run offense." Ultimately, veteran Sammy Watkins signed in Baltimore.
Marquise Brown said the reason he asked for a trade is because of the team's offensive philosophy. For the Ravens to land Landry, he's going to have to want to be in Baltimore, Zrebiec said.
"The Ravens probably aren't going to make a 'Wow' offer at this stage of free agency," Zrebiec wrote. "That's not their way and their current cap situation would make that extremely difficult. That doesn't mean they couldn't step up and make a fair bid for Landry, but if it comes down to money and multiple teams are involved, the odds aren't in the Ravens' favor. But if Landry sees opportunity in playing with Lamar Jackson, in playing for a team that is considered a contender, in getting to face his old teammates in Cleveland twice a year, a deal seems plenty realistic.
"But really none of that matters much in the grand scheme of things if Landry doesn't like his fit in the Ravens passing game and the Ravens aren't willing to make him a representative offer."
The Case for Signing CB James Bradberry
The Ravens selected two cornerbacks in the draft (Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams, both in the fourth round), but the team lacks veteran depth at the position, and Pro Bowler James Bradberry is available after just being released by the New York Giants in a cost-saving move.
Ebony Bird’s Kristen Wong said the Ravens should pursue the 28-year-old Bradberry, who has made 91 starts in his six-year career.
"Rather than put undue pressure on the Day 3 rookies to perform from the start, Baltimore could easily boost its cornerback group with a seasoned pro like Bradberry," Wong wrote.
The Ravens have two All-Pro cornerbacks in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, but both are coming off season-ending injuries. Bradberry would add another Pro Bowler to the mix.
"Given the Ravens' terrible injury luck last year, the team should place an extra-high premium on starting-caliber corners and has every reason to keep adding depth to their roster," Wong wrote. "They already mined for young talent in a handful of rookies and undrafted free agents, but Bradberry offers solid starting-caliber potential, something that none of the corner additions can reliably provide."
If the Ravens do have interest in Bradberry, they'll undoubtedly have competition, and the Ravens don't have a lot of cap room.
Pundit Says Ravens Are 'Must-See TV'
With the NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, NFL.com asked its analysts which team should play in the most prime-time games.
The Ravens were Jim Trotter's pick.
"Baltimore is always must-see TV," Trotter wrote. "Not only because it has one of the game's more electrifying players in quarterback Lamar Jackson, whose ability to do something magical means never taking a bathroom break when the Ravens are on offense, but also because the defense plays the game as it should be played — physically, aggressively, collectively."
The Ravens had five prime-time games last year, three of which (Week 1 against the Las Vegas Raiders, Week 2 against the Chiefs and Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts) that were among the most thrilling games of the season.
- NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund projects the Ravens' win total to be 9.0. That's the best in the AFC North, ahead of the Cleveland Browns (8.9), Cincinnati Bengals (8.8) and Steelers (7.8).