Flacco Happy He Didn't Have To Wear Gold Pants
As much as Joe Flacco hated enduring the first major injury of his career and the ensuing "boring" rehab, there may be something he hates even more:
Those mustardy-gold pants the Ravens wore during their Week 15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The franchise quarterback did not hold back when was asked for his opinion on the alternate look.
"Yeah, that was the one game that I was happy I was not playing," Flacco told 98 Rock Thursday while promoting the 20th Annual Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge on Jan. 30.
"Honestly, I'm all for new uniforms. We've been wearing the same uniforms since I've been here and 10 years before that. I'm all for a little switch up, but I think we have to put that in the hands of some very good artists."
In the college ranks, the Maryland Terrapins and Oregon Ducks are known for switching up their uniform designs on a weekly basis. Thanks to their neighbor and long-time sponsor, Nike, the Ducks donned 12 fresh new digs at each of their games this season. After signing a 10-year contract with Maryland in 2014, Under Armour started the same tradition with the Terps.
A uniform rivalry was born between the "University of Nike" and the "University of Under Armour," and Flacco admires the colleges' ability to change their look so frequently.
"It is kind of cool as a college kid you get to wear a new uniform every single [game] day," Flacco said.
As long as those gold pants aren't brought back. Critics around the country called the look "ugly," and one said the pants should be "buried deep below the earth."
Each NFL team is allowed to have three different jersey combinations and three different pant combinations. Baltimore already has three jerseys (white, purple and black), but only two pants (white and black). Head Coach John Harbaugh got the message about the unpopular gold pants, and said fans should determine the third pant color via a contest.
Until that happens, our website published a poll for fun that featured seven uniform choices. Nearly 18,000 votes were cast, and 31 percent of fans liked a black jersey/purple pant combination best.
Ranking Ravens' Offensive Needs For 2016
For the first time in four years, the Ravens will begin consecutive seasons with the same offensive coordinator.
That continuity is bound to help the unit progress, and who knows what Marc Trestman can do when he gets back his starting quarterback, running back, center, left tackle, tight end and top two receivers.
As the team prepares for free agency and the draft this offseason, WNST's Luke Jones ranks the offensive needs for 2016.
1) Left Tackle
Despite having three years left on his deal, starter Eugene Monroe's status is up in the air because he's only started 16 games over the last two years and has a reported $8.7 million cap hit next year. Can the Ravens rely on him with Flacco coming back from knee surgery? If not, there's still no guarantee Kelechi Osemele will return or a rookie can become an immediate starter.
Jones: "Considering Monroe is under contract for three more years, some could still argue that receiver is a bigger need, but surely no position on either side of the ball is more complicated right now for the Ravens. …. Their best strategy might be to keep Monroe until the 2016 draft when they could potentially come away with a top left tackle such as Laremy Tunsil or Ronnie Stanley with the sixth-overall pick and then part ways with the veteran. If it's not a first-round talent, perhaps the Ravens draft a tackle in the second or third round and ride the roller coaster with Monroe for one more season."
2) Wide Receiver
General Manager Ozzie Newsome said he wants to add one or two wide receivers to the mix this offseason. They will join a group that will include 37-year-old Steve Smith Sr. coming off a major Achilles injury, first-round pick Breshad Perriman coming off a knee injury, and (if he gets tendered) Kamar Aiken, who was the last-standing receiver of 2015.
Jones: "The Ravens averaged a league-worst 10.4 yards per catch in 2015, reflecting their inability to stretch the field with any success. Perriman can still be viewed as the primary option to provide that skill next season, but Newsome can't be without a backup plan this time around. Whether it's a free agent or a pick in the first three or four rounds of this spring's draft, the Ravens need another speed receiver with upside to add to the passing game for 2016."
3) Reserve OTBackup tackle James Hurst started eight games last season in place of Monroe, and graded out as the fourth worst of 81 qualified offensive tackles across the league by Pro Football Focus. On the other side of the line, starting right tackle Rick Wagner will be an unrestricted free agent in 2017.
Jones: "[T]hey probably shouldn't count on James Hurst as the primary backup tackle, especially if Monroe is retained. The former undrafted free agent from North Carolina is a hard worker and a favorite of offensive line coach Juan Castillo, but … was simply overwhelmed for large stretches of playing time. He was also the one who fell into Flacco's left knee to cause the season-ending injury against St. Louis on Nov. 22."
4) Reserve Interior Linemen
John Urschel and Ryan Jensen both proved themselves when injuries took a toll on the starters last season. Either Urschel or Jensen is likely to step into the starting lineup next year if Osemele does leave in free agency. Fifth-round draft pick Robert Myers was lost to the Denver Broncos after they plucked him off the Ravens practice squad and signed him to their active roster.
Jones: "John Urschel is projected to take Osemele's place as the starting left guard in 2016, but the Ravens would probably like to add another interior lineman to the roster mix if they can."
Chris Davis Takes Title As Highest-Paid Baltimore Athlete
Move over Flacco. You are no longer the highest-paid athlete in Baltimore.
That title now belongs to two-time American League home run king Chris Davis.
After several rounds of back-and-forth negotiations, Davis and the Orioles reached a reported seven-year, $161 million deal. It is the richest deal in Baltimore Orioles history, per the Associated Press' David Ginsburg, and trumps Flacco's $120 million deal in 2013. Plus, all of that money in Davis' contract is fully guaranteed.
Davis met with the media for the first time since signing his deal yesterday.
"I understand the commitment that was made," Davis said. "And to me, it's actually a flattering, more humbling gesture that the Orioles decided to make this kind of commitment to me. It really motivates me to work that much harder and do everything I can to show them that their faith was well placed."
Can Ravens Land Immediate Starter In First Three Rounds?
Newsome and Co. will have three of the first 70 picks of the 2016 NFL Draft, and ESPN's Jamison Hensley believes they can pay "immediate dividends."
Here's who the league selected the last two years at the same spots the Ravens will pick:
Round 1, No. 6: Falcons T Jake Matthews (2014), New York Jets DL Leonard Williams (2015)
Round 2, No. 36: Raiders QB Derek Carr (2014), Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon (2015)
Round 3, No. 70: 49ers OL Marcus Martin (2014), Texans WR Jaelen Strong (2015)
All the players above became full-time starters in their rookie years* *with the exception of Strong, who played in 10 games and notched 14 receptions for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
"This doesn't necessarily guarantee the Ravens will draft impact players with their first three selections, wrote Hensley. "But it does show how valuable these picks can be in helping turn around a 5-11 team."
Will Ravens Re-Sign Aiken?
After taking over the No. 1 receiver role last season, will the Ravens be able to bring back restricted free agent Kamar Aiken?
"Yes, I definitely think Aiken will be with the Ravens next season. He's a restricted free agent, but the Ravens want to keep Aiken and he wants to stay," wrote CSNMidatlantic.com's Clifton Brown.
"Aiken is just 26 years old, and the Ravens need weapons at wide receiver for quarterback Joe Flacco. Aiken took the hard road to get this far, as a Bills undrafted free agent in 2011. He doesn't figure to rest on his laurels, and the Ravens are in no position to let a solid player with character like Aiken walk away."
If the Ravens want to retain Aiken, they will have to assign one of three tenders: first-round (worth an estimated $3.58 million), second-round ($2.52 million), or low-round tender ($1.65 million). Baltimore would have the first right of refusal on any competing offers and would receive a draft pick that corresponds with his tender if Aiken were to leave.
The other route is a multi-year deal to lock Aiken in for the long-term.
"If the Ravens don't reach a long-term contract agreement with Aiken, expect them to offer him a second-round tender," wrote Brown. "That should be enough to keep other teams from snatching Aiken, at a contract for next season the Ravens can live with."