Lamar Jackson Would Welcome DK Metcalf 'With Open Arms'
The recruiting process for Ravens players has been on full display the past few weeks, with Marlon Humphrey and Tony Jefferson calling for players to "#ComeToTheRavens." This weekend, Lamar Jackson joined the fray by telling Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf that he would welcome him to the offense "with open arms."
Metcalf has been rumored to be on the trade block after the Seahawks dealt quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos.
According to Seahawks General Manger John Schneider, their goal is to sign Metcalf to an extension; Head Coach Pete Carroll said much of the same.
However, the use of "intend" by Carroll has Seahawks fans expecting him to be traded, as Carroll used the same phrasing regarding Wilson while the Seahawks were in trade discussions.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Metcalf's name is being discussed by league executives.
"This is a name that's buzzing in league circles. No guarantee that anything happens here," Fowler said Sunday on SportsCenter. "I'm told that Metcalf has gotten indications, informally from the team, that he's not going to be traded. Seattle has said publicly they have no intention to trade him. But the execs I talk to keep bringing him up that maybe they would either be willing to move on at the right price or that Metcalf would welcome a change. So, something is going on here; it's just hard to figure out what. But he's got one year left on his rookie deal. He would need a new contract as part of a trade. That's the tricky part."
If the Ravens are interested, they would likely have to outbid the New York Jets for Metcalf. The Jets were a part of the trade talks with the Kansas City Chiefs for wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who landed with the Miami Dolphins. In return for Hill, the Chiefs received a 2022 first-round pick, 2022 second-rounder, 2022 fourth-rounder, 2023 fourth-rounder and 2023 sixth-rounder.
It's hard to see the Ravens parting with a similar amount of draft capital for a wide receiver, where they've already invested first round picks in Rashod Bateman and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and have strong depth. But if General Manager Eric DeCosta were to make such a trade, Jackson and the team would no doubt welcome Metcalf with open arms.
Jackson Reportedly Waiting Until After the 2022 Season to Sign a New Deal
After Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti spoke to the media last week on Jackson's focus being on a championship rather than a deal, a report from Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio echoes the owner's words.
"At the start of the season, the story was that he was too focused on football," Florio wrote. "After the season, the story was that he was too focused on getting healthy. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Jackson has told the Ravens that he's currently too focused on having his best possible year and that he doesn't want to do a deal until the 2022 season is over."
If this is what Jackson is planning, Florio also sees the Ravens utilizing the franchise tag in back-to-back seasons.
"That's where it's heading," Florio wrote. "Fifth-year option in 2022. Franchise tag in 2023. If the salary cap increases by, say, 15 percent this year, the franchise tag for quarterbacks will be in the range of $34 million in 2023. If so, he'd get $40.8 million in 2024. Combine that with the $23 million he'll make this year, and that's a three-year payout of $97.8 million. Given the current quarterback market, that's not a bad deal for Baltimore."
If the Ravens were to go along with Florio's suggestion, they'd be paying out a fair bit less than what the top-end quarterback market has expanded to. For reference, the Green Bay Packers made quarterback Aaron Rodgers the richest deal in history, with over $50 million in average annual value. If the Ravens use back-to-back tags after the fifth-year option, they'd be averaging less than $33 million per season.
"[The Ravens] thought they [had a quarterback in place for years to come]," Florio wrote. "And maybe they'll have Jackson for seven full seasons. Or maybe they'll decide after his fifth season that, as the Chief[s] did with Tyreek Hill, the Packers did with Davante Adams, and the Seahawks did with Russell Wilson, the time has come to maximize the potential return on Jackson's contractual rights."
Former NFL Executive Suggests Ravens 'Need to Give Themselves an Option' By Drafting a Quarterback
While many speculate regarding the Ravens and Jackson's contract, former NFL General Manager Randy Mueller thinks it would be wise for the team to "at least give themselves an option" at quarterback by taking one early in the 2022 draft.
"By not being willing to sign a deal now, Jackson is giving the Ravens the opportunity to look for options," Mueller wrote for Heavy.com. "Nobody, including the media, could question their thought process. It makes perfect sense. Nobody here is suggesting Baltimore move on from Jackson. I am suggesting that the Ravens need to give themselves an option."
The option Mueller is suggesting is Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe in the second round.
"[Zappe] is accurate, he is comfortable in the pocket, he has plenty of arm strength to go with anticipation and for my money can make all the NFL throws needed to be successful," Mueller wrote. "I see similarities with other 6-foot-tall QBs who have been successful in the last decade in the NFL.
"Nobody thinks you can replace Jackson with an unproven second-round pick, but he gives them options and might give their pass game a shot in the arm as well…At a minimum, it's an option that they currently don't have."
While Mueller considers it "perfect sense" for the Ravens to draft a quarterback with their No. 45-overall pick, it would undoubtedly shock the fanbase and fan the flames of takes regarding the current situation.
As it stands, Jackson said he has no desire to leave and the Ravens have openly expressed their interest in signing Jackson long-term.
Ravens Reportedly Met With Top Draft Prospect Kayvon Thibodeaux
Following Oregon's pro day this weekend, the Ravens reportedly met with edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux.
While some might chalk this up to due diligence, Ebony Bird's Justin Fried thinks it's possible that Thibodeaux could fall to the Ravens at No. 14 overall.
"Right now, it seems very unlikely that Thibodeaux falls all the way to that spot," Fried wrote. "It wouldn't be unprecedented though. We've seen various top prospects experience draft-day slides and it's certainly feasible the same could happen with Thibodeaux. The Ravens could be in a prime position to benefit."
Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed believes the Ravens would pounce at an opportunity to land Thibodeaux if he were to slide in the draft.
"As disappointing as these recent developments are for Thibodeaux, they are likely music to the ears in the Ravens' front office, which could be what prompted them to meet with him over dinner," Reed wrote. "The franchise has a rich history of taking chances on players and prospects that other teams have soured on or looked over and getting the most out of them."
NBC Sports’ Peter King sees Thibodeaux sliding to the Jets at the No. 10-overall pick, but teams will ultimately, "have to make up their own minds," on whether they will take the edge rusher.
What does Thibodeaux think about the pre-draft process?
"The most ridiculous thing I've heard is that I'm not the best player in this draft," Thibodeaux said to reporters, per Eugene Register-Guard's Antwan Staley. "I really don't listen to anything else, but that to me, that's outrageous. With the film, with the numbers and what I can do as far as my ability, I have confidence in what I can do."
- NBC Sports’ King thought it was funny Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam "didn't feel a cold shoulder" from his peers. King thinks other owners might not be thrilled with the Browns handing out a record-shattering guaranteed deal for quarterback Deshaun Watson. "It's just silly to think other owners and teams that have to get young quarterbacks signed aren't angry with the Haslams," King wrote.