Chances Of Ravens Pursuing Alshon Jeffery, Anquan Boldin, Haloti Ngata?
You know it's the offseason when fans start shooting for the (free agent) stars.
They asked ESPN's Jamison Hensley in his weekly mailbag whether the Ravens would make a push for pending free agents Alshon Jeffery, Haloti Ngata and/or Anquan Boldin.
The short answer for each is no, no and no, according to Hensley. It's never fun crushing dreams, but a realistic start is better for everyone.
For further explanation, here ya go:
WR Alshon Jeffery, Chicago2015 stats (4th year): 8 starts, 54 catches, 807 yards, 4 touchdowns
There are three obstacles to luring Jeffery to Baltimore.
First, the Bears may not even allow Jeffery to hit the market by re-signing him to a multi-year deal or applying the franchise tag. General Manager Ryan Pace told Chicago media in his season-review press conference that he wants to add playmakers. Jeffery is the Bears' biggest playmaker, and letting him go would fly in the face of Pace's goal.
The Bears don't know what they have in first-round rookie receiver Kevin White because he never played a snap this season, just like Baltimore's Breshad Perriman. The Bears need a proven receiver on board.
Second, even if Jeffery did hit the open market, he has an injury history that would make Baltimore leery. He missed seven games last season with a myriad of injuries, including to his calf, ankle, hamstring, shoulder and groin.
"After watching five of their season-opening six receivers go on injured reserve, the Ravens aren't going to want to pick up another banged-up target," wrote Hensley.
Third, Jeffery will cost too much. Way too much.
Former NFL agent Joel Corry recently told 670 The Score that no team is getting Jeffrey for less than $70 million over five years with $40 to $45 million guaranteed. Can you remember the last time General Manager Ozzie Newsome paid that much for another team's free agent? Try never.
"The Ravens wouldn't make a push even though there is a connection between him and Marc Trestman," Hensley wrote. "Baltimore typically doesn't make big splashes, and Jeffery is a big-money risk."
WR Anquan Boldin, San Francisco2015 stats (13th year): 13 starts, 69 catches, 789 yards, 4 touchdowns
I'm pretty sure this question has been asked every offseason since the Ravens traded Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers in 2013. The only difference this time around is that Boldin is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
That likely won't change the end result, however. Boldin will turn 36 next season, and it's hard to imagine the Ravens pairing two receivers north of 35 years old. Steve Smith Sr. turns 37 in May. The Ravens are looking for young, speedy outside receivers instead of more chain-movers in the slot.
"Boldin showed [his] age last season, and the Ravens don't want to get older," Hensley wrote. "Baltimore has Boldin-type receivers in Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken."
DT Haloti Ngata, Detroit2015 stats (10th year): 14 starts, 24 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 passes defensed
Owner Steve Bisciotti made this one feel like a possibility when he said after last year's trade, "As far as I know, he could be a free agent a year from now, and we may be watching the second coming of Haloti Ngata. Who knows?"
Despite Bisciotti's hope, Hensley still doesn't think Ngata will return. Hensley says that Ngata, who turns 32 in a couple weeks, is another player that "showed his age," while Baltimore's defense proved it was just fine without Ngata on the line. The unit ranked No. 10 in the league by allowing just 4 yards per carry. Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan and a host of other developing young players showed they can carry the load.
"Ravens' priorities should be getting younger, faster and more athletic," Hensley wrote. "Baltimore had 11 players 30 or older on its roster, and five of them ended the season on injured reserve."
Leverage Playing Role In Public Comments About Flacco Contract
Newsome said last week the Ravens will look for ways to put together a strong roster without re-negotiating quarterback Joe Flacco's contract and his scheduled $28.55 million salary cap number.
But will that actually happen?
No way, says The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
"What exactly did you expect Newsome to say — that the Ravens are absolutely desperate to redo his contract, and their whole offseason depends on it?" asked Zrebiec.
"Yeah, that would surely help gain leverage on Flacco's agent, Joe Linta, in the pending negotiations. Look, the Ravens know the deal. They have little, if any, leverage as it is."
Zrebiec says the Ravens have three options:
1) Don't touch the contract (severely limiting their ability to make offseason additions)
2) Trade or cut Flacco (not happening)
3) Renegotiate (clearly the most viable option)
"Regardless of what they're saying publicly, the Ravens know it, and so do Flacco and Linta," wrote Zrebiec. "The last negotiations between the two sides got acrimonious, and I don't think Linta will make it easy on the Ravens this time around, either.
"About the only thing the Ravens have in their favor is Flacco's presumed understanding that it's going to be awfully tough to put a playoff team around him in 2016 if he's carrying a $28.55 million cap hit."
Can Ravens Build A Defense Less Reliant On Suggs?
Terrell Suggs told the Ravens that he plans on being back next season, and he's using his season-ending Achilles injury as motivation to end his career on a high note.
With Suggs missing for basically the entire season, Owner Steve Bisciotti said the ripple effect on the defense was greater than anyone anticipated.
To that, CSNMidatlantic.com's Clifton Brown asks: "Can the Ravens build a defense this offseason that is not so dependent on [Suggs]?"
"While the Ravens expect Suggs to return from Achilles surgery, he is 33 years old, and will be entering his 14th NFL season in 2016. Finding a pass rusher via the draft, free agency, or trade is a top offseason priority for the Ravens. Asking Suggs, the franchise's all-time sack leader (106 1/2) to duplicate his 12-sack season of 2014, and to be a three-down linebacker, could be asking too much."
Fine Line Between Attitude And Recklessness
WNST's Luke Jones believes the Ravens could benefit from adding players with a little more "attitude." Intimidation and ferocity have been traits of quality leaders in the Ravens' past.
But if players can't harness that attitude, things quickly spiral out of control, says Jones, as demonstrated by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict Saturday night with Cincinnati's first playoff win since 1990 on the line.
"Some have perceived a softer culture for the Ravens since Super Bowl XLVII, but Cincinnati's Vontaze Burfict reminded us Saturday that there's a fine line between attitude and recklessness," wrote Jones.
"Baltimore may lack the big personalities and swagger that it once had on the defensive side of the football, but the Bengals linebacker has proven time and time again that you simply can't trust him."
On a related note, TheMMQB.com's Peter King wrote an open letter to NFL players in his Tuesday morning column in the wake of the Bengals-Steelers debacle.
It was way more than just the Burfict hit on Brown, too. King detailed Adam Jones' personal foul, Burfict driving his knee into Ben Roethlisberger's injured shoulder, Joey Porter illegally running on the field, Ryan Shazier leading with the crown of his helmet on Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill trying to fight with Bernard injured and down on the ground.
There were 27 million people watching that game, including children who NFL players frequently reach out to and encourage to play with sportsmanship.
"This was the lesson from the climax of this playoff game: Stop at nothing to win, even if it means concussing the opposition," wrote King. "Taunt your foes. Hit them with the crown of your helmet. Sneak onto the field to induce them into a penalty. Anything to win the game. Demean yourselves. Shame your former coaches and your parents. Show them if you win the game, it's all good. All's fair in love and football.
"…I am writing to issue this plea: Take care of yourselves. Take care of your game."
Drafting Ahead Of San Francisco Could Make Big Difference
When the San Francisco 49ers ended their season with an overtime win over the St. Louis Rams, it propelled Baltimore one spot ahead of them in the 2016 NFL Draft.
It may not end up having a big effect on the draft, but Zrebiec sees a chance for big trades on Day 1.
"It's early in the process, but there are two quarterbacks, Memphis' Paxton Lynch and California's Jared Goff, projected to go early in the first round," Zrebiec wrote. "And among the teams picking in the top 10, the Cleveland Browns (second overall) and 49ers both need quarterbacks. So the teams drafting later in the first round that are also interested in a quarterback — say, the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams — probably would need to get in front of the 49ers for a shot at Lynch or Goff."
So there sits Ozzie Newsome.
He's in perfect position to entertain potential trade proposals for quarterback-hungry teams that need to beat San Francisco to the punch.
If a top defensive back like Florida State's Jalen Ramsey or Florida's Vernon Hargreaves is available, then Zrebiec says Newsome would have a hard time moving back.
"But never underestimate the front office's desire to stockpile picks," he wrote.