Contract Offer On The Table For Greg Roman
It looks like the Ravens are closing in on Greg Roman.
The former Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator is reportedly in contract talks with Baltimore, and it appears only the final details of the contract need to be hammered out before making it official.
Roman will reportedly become a run-game specialist with the Ravens, who have vowed to revive their rushing attack after finishing 28th in the league and attempting the fewest carries in franchise history in 2016.
Roman has a history of leading strong rushing units, finishing in the top four of the league in each of his last four full seasons as an offensive coordinator (2011-2015). Roman was fired by Rex Ryan and the Bills after the team got off to an 0-2 start last year.
Head Coach John Harbaugh already knows Roman fairly well, as he was Jim Harbaugh's offensive coordinator in San Francisco for four years.
"We're all in agreement that you need a more balanced offense," Owner Steve Bisciotti said Tuesday. "I think that our success still goes back to good defense and balance, and that means a strong running game.
"I was really disappointed in the lack of a run game, the lack of a commitment to a running game. … I think that the end result and the disparity speaks for itself, and I don't think that we're going to be successful putting the ball in the air 600-some times. It's just not our identity, and I don't know how we got that far away from it."
If the Ravens finalize a deal with Roman, there could still be another addition for a quarterbacks coach. It's unclear whether Harbaugh will fill that role, however, as he hasn't always named a quarterbacks coach to work with Joe Flacco.
The Ravens didn't hire a new quarterbacks coach last season after Marty Mornhinweg was promoted from that role to offensive coordinator. Harbaugh said earlier this week that he is interviewing potential quarterbacks coaches from both the NFL and college ranks.
"The main communicator to Joe is going to be the offensive coordinator in our case," Harbaugh said. "You don't want a bunch of voices, I don't believe, talking to your quarterback. You don't want him to hear a lot of different ways of doing things. You want it to be straight forward coming from the play caller. When the quarterback and the play caller are on the same page, you're a lot farther down the road."
Ravens Get 'A' In 2016 Offseason Re-Grade
If the Ravens can replicate the performance of the 2016 offseason, they very well could see themselves back in the playoffs.
With the benefit of hindsight, ESPN's Mike Sando changed Baltimore's original "C-minus" grade to an "A" for the team's acquisitions last year, including draft selections and free-agent signings.
"When a team falls short of the playoffs, the inclination is to focus on what went wrong," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "But the Baltimore Ravens put together one of the most impressive offseasons in the NFL last year."
Just how impressive?
Well, Baltimore was just one of three teams (Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs) to receive an "A." For the Cowboys and Chiefs, it meant earning first-round byes. The Ravens hope for those type of results a year from now.
"If the Ravens want to end a two-year playoff drought, they will have to deliver another strong offseason in 2017," wrote Hensley, who pointed out some of the best and worst moves of the 2016 season below.
*Best Value: S Eric Weddle, WR Mike Wallace *"Weddle was the highest-graded safety this season by Pro Football Focus, and Wallace produced his first 1,000-yard season in five years," Hensley wrote. "It cost the Ravens just under $14 million last season for both of them. The Ravens' success in free agency would've been greater if tight end Ben Watson didn't tear his Achilles in the preseason."
*Best Overall Move: Signing K Justin Tucker *The Ravens signed Tucker to a reported four-year, $16.8 million deal with a $6 million signing bonus, according to multiple reports. His $4.2 million annual salary ranks only behind New England Patriots All-Pro Stephen Gostkowski. It was money well spent. Tucker was named a unanimous first-team All-Pro after connecting on all of his extra points and 38-of-39 field-goal attempts (only miss was a block). Tucker also hit all 10 of his field goals beyond 50 yards, tying an NFL record. He is currently the most accurate kicker in league history.
*Biggest Miss: CB Shareece Wright *"He couldn't follow up a strong finish in 2015 and became a liability last season after getting $4.76 million in guaranteed money," wrote Hensley. In Tuesday's season-review press conference, Bisciotti talked about Wright getting away from his fundamentals and playing "poorly" down the stretch. "That really set us back, to be honest with you," Bisciotti said.
Strong Overall Draft Class: Ranked Sixth In Total Offensive And Defensive Snaps"First-round pick Ronnie Stanley proved to be a promising left tackle, and a couple of fourth-rounders (cornerback Tavon Young and left guard Alex Lewis) became surprise starters," wrote Hensley. "Running back Kenneth Dixon, another fourth-rounder, and linebacker Matt Judon (fifth round) added depth. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce, an undrafted rookie, has the potential to become a starter."
Timing Isn't Great To Announce Ticket Price Increases
Bisciotti seemed to have a little sympathy for President Dick Cass, who was asked one question during the Ravens' season-review press conference. Cass was the bearer of some bad news.
"That's my job. That's what you pay me for, so you don't have to do it," Cass said with a smile.
The news was that the Ravens are "seriously considering" raising ticket prices, which the team hasn't done in four years despite investing major resources into M&T Bank Stadium to improve the fan experience. It's just that the timing isn't great after the Ravens missed the playoffs three of the four years since they last raised prices.
"The Ravens are coping with a dissatisfied fan base that will be angered further by a likely increase in ticket prices," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker.
"[Bisciotti] and Cass noted that renewal rates for season tickets have always remained close to 100 percent, even when the team has struggled. And they're probably correct in believing we're nowhere close to fans dumping the Ravens in significant numbers. But between the 8-8 record, the lack of changes in the coaching staff and the likely price increase, this will not be an offseason of sunshine and daisies."
What Does 'Complementary' Receiver Mean?
When General Manager Ozzie Newsome named some of the team's biggest needs this season, he talked about bulking up the secondary and offensive line, and said he wants to add a "complementary" receiver.
The use of that term has led to many questions among media and fans because it's unclear who a new receiver will be complementing.
"I'm nitpicking over semantics, but Newsome saying the Ravens need a 'complementary' receiver is interesting when they don't have a clear-cut primary one," wrote WNST's Luke Jones. "I suppose they could technically label Mike Wallace as the No. 1 guy after a 1,000-yard season, but they need a very good '1a' then."
Head Coach John Harbaugh also said there is "no question" that the defense needs more corners who can play at a high level. The Ravens have suffered too many times when top corner Jimmy Smith has missed time with injuries, and it's clear they want to prevent any further such problems.
"As it is the case every year, adding depth in the secondary is a priority, but the Ravens haven't selected a cornerback in the first three rounds of the draft since 2011 and try to band-aid the problem with cheap veteran castoffs," wrote Jones. "You get what you pay for."