DeSean Jackson And 10 Other Potential Salary-Cap Casualties To WatchThe Ravens don't like to sign other teams' unrestricted free agents because they're expensive and hurt the compensatory pick formula.
They do* *have a history of signing salary-cap casualties, however, especially veteran wide receivers (think Derrick Mason and Steve Smith Sr.). So, as the Ravens look to add one or two receivers this offseason, the draft and cap-casualty market are the places to watch.
Of course, Baltimore brass hasn't, can't and won't talk about players under contract with other teams, but analysts have already begun speculating which receivers could be cut this offseason. One name garnering buzz is the Redskins' DeSean Jackson.
CSNMidatlantic.com's Clifton Brown says it's "not beyond the realm of possibility" for the Ravens to show interest in Jackson should the Redskins part ways with him to avoid his $9.25 million cap number next season.
"We know the Ravens need more playmakers, and Jackson is just that," wrote Brown. "We also know Jackson could be a salary-cap casualty.
"Jackson's fate will be a tough decision for the Redskins. But if they turn Jackson loose, the Ravens have reason to be tempted. Jackson is still only 29 years old, a lot younger than Steve Smith, who will turn 37 years old in May, and who is coming off Achilles surgery."
The downside to Jackson, and one of the reasons his release is even up for debate, is his 2015 injury history. Jackson missed seven games last season, which hurt his stats (only 30 catches for 528 yards). A hamstring injury forced him to miss six games, which can be avoided with proper training. But Jackson was absent for chunks of the Redskins offseason training program and a shoulder injury held him out most of training camp.
The Ravens don't need another gimpy receiver, as Kamar Aiken was the only receiver to start and finish the season on the roster. But when Jackson is healthy, watch out. He amassed more than 1,100 yards in 2013 and 2014. His career average is a whopping 17.7 yards per catch.
"That's a playmaker," Brown wrote. "And in John Harbaugh, the Ravens have a coach used to dealing successfully with strong personalities like Jackson's.
"The Ravens might be appealing to Jackson. He could remain in the DMV [DC, Maryland, Virginia area], and the Ravens have a strong-armed quarterback in Joe Flacco who throws deep well. And a wide receiver corps that includes Smith, Jackson, a healthy Breshad Perriman, and Kamar Aiken would make the Ravens look far more dangerous on paper than they do [now]."
- Calvin Johnson (Detroit): $24 million cap hit in 2016
- Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay): $12.2 million
- Mike Wallace (Minnesota): $11.5 million
- Pierre Garcon (Washington): $10.2 million
- Dwayne Bowe (Cleveland): $8 million
- Victor Cruz (New York Giants): $9.9 million
- Roddy White (Atlanta): $6.1 million
- Marques Colston (New Orleans): $5.9 million
- Greg Jennings (Miami): $5.5 million
- Andre Roberts (Washington): $5 million
Ravens Top Respected Special-Teams Rankings
It's that time of the year where The Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin releases his highly-respected special-teams rankings, and the Ravens' 2015 unit took the top spot.
That was a solid jump from last year's No. 5 ranking.
All 32 NFL teams are ranked in 22 categories and assigned points according to their standing, with one being the best and 32 the worst.
Baltimore finished with the best overall point total (231), followed by the New York Giants (271.5), Jacksonville Jaguars (295), Dallas Cowboys (310.5) and Philadelphia Eagles (313).
The Ravens didn't just win; they ran away with the crown.
The unit led by Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg, kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch, finished in the top 10 in 14 of the 22 categories. And thanks in large part to first-time Pro Bowler Koch, the unit finished in the top 10 in all major punting categories, including punting, net punt, inside-the-20 punts and punt coverage.
With Harbaugh's special-teams background, the Ravens unit is expected to excel. With the exception of 2011, the unit has shown consistent improvement since Harbaugh came to town and has consistently been one of the best. It's been ranked in the top 5 for the last four years.
2008: No. 22
2009: No. 18
2010: No. 8
2011: No. 24
2012: No. 3
2013: No. 5
2014: No. 5
2015: No. 1
Ravens On Track For Three Compensatory Picks
General Manager Ozzie Newsome has amassed a league-high 44 compensatory picks since the system was implemented in 1994. In a distant second are the Green Bay Packers with 35.
But for the second consecutive year, the Ravens likely won't get the maximum four allotted to them.
Baltimore lost five unrestricted free agents: linebacker Pernell McPhee, wide receiver Torrey Smith, tight end Owen Daniels, quarterback Tyrod Taylor and safety Darian Stewart.
The Ravens signed one unrestricted free agent in Kendrick Lewis.
Usually that means the Ravens would get all four comp picks, but according to Over The Cap, Taylor will not count despite winning the starting quarterback role in Buffalo because of the way his contract was structured.
"Remember that incentives do not count in the compensatory formula, so his APY [average pay per year] will remain unchanged in that regard," wrote Nick Korte back in September. "And even if he plays 100% of the snaps, the program still did not have him listed any higher. As odd as it may seem, I would not count on Taylor getting above the 32-pick limit."
Bengals Players Rejoice In Steelers Loss
It's been about 36 hours since the Pittsburgh Steelers were ousted from the playoffs by the Denver Broncos, and I'd bet Ravens fans are still reveling in their loss.
They wouldn't be the only ones.
After losing to the Steelers in the wild-card round, the Bengals were gloating when Pittsburgh fell Sunday in the divisional round. In part, we can thank Steelers running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who some are jokingly calling a "double agent" because the ex-Raven's fumble was the catalyst to the Broncos' comeback victory.
It's not every day that the Ravens and Bengals can agree, but I have a feeling these tweets will ring true for Baltimoreans.
Oh, and remember when Snoop Dogg went on an expletive-filled rant when the Ravens beat the Steelers in Week 16. Anthony Levine is still waiting on the rapper's take on his team's postseason exit.
AFC North Drafting Order
With all the AFC North teams officially finished this season, we know the full drafting order for the division.
The Bengals were added to the pecking order last week, along with the Texans, Redskins and Vikings (spots 21-24). This week, the Steelers, Seahawks, Packers, and Chiefs filled out spots 25-29. With a weaker strength of schedule, the Steelers get a better draft position than the other 10-6 teams added to the list this week.
2. Cleveland Browns: 3-13 (.531 SOS)
6. Baltimore Ravens: 5-11 (.508 SOS)
24. Cincinnati Bengals: 12-4 (.477 SOS)
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6 (.504 SOS)
Hue Jackson Credits Harbaugh For Head-Coaching Opportunities
As Hue Jackson jumps into his new job as the Cleveland Browns' head coach and tries to turn around the franchise, he hasn't forgotten to look back and see how he got to this point.
Jackson credits Harbaugh for giving him the platform to prove himself.
It was Harbaugh who hired Jackson to develop young Joe Flacco in 2008-09, and Jackson went on from there to be the Oakland Raiders' offensive coordinator and head coach (2012) and the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive coordinator (2014-2015).
As Wola Odeniran of Russell Street Report pointed out, Ray Lewis isn't the only Ravens player who helped assistant coaches look good and advance their careers. Guys like Rex Ryan, Marvin Lewis, Jack Del Rio, Mike Smith, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary and Chuck Pagano all went on to become head coaches after stints with the Ravens defense.
Flacco's strong play has helped springboard a couple offensive coaches too, including Jackson, Jim Caldwell and Gary Kubiak.
Matt Stover Says Rams Players Should Get Financial Packages
After going through an NFL relocation himself, former Ravens kicker Matt Stover says Rams players should get financial packages as they're forced to pick up their lives and families from St. Louis and move across the country to Los Angeles.
Stover recalled losing money when the Browns organization moved from Cleveland to Baltimore and became the Ravens. He said he lost thousands of dollars after he sold his house in 1996, and the Browns chose not to pay realtor fees or closing costs on the houses sold by players.
"We weren't ready for it, we had no control over it, and we were under contract, so we were obligated to go," Stover told Hensley. "I'm hoping the Rams organization will take care of their players. There should be a financial package for the players moving to L.A."
Under the collective bargaining agreement, franchises are only required to pay moving and relocation expenses.