Ravens Make a Statement With John Harbaugh's Four-Year Deal
The biggest news of yesterday was obviously the announcement of John Harbaugh's new four-year deal, which puts him under contract through 2022.
It wasn't too long ago when there were first rumors that Harbaugh was on the hot seat, then rumors that he could be traded. In the end, after winning six of seven games and the AFC North title, that all turned out to be a bunch of hot air.
Of course, a team could always move on from a coach at any time. As multiple reporters pointed out, Owner Steve Bisciotti fired Brian Billick one year after he signed a four-year contract extension in 2007.
"Harbaugh would be the first to dispute the notion of having long-term security in the crucible that is the NFL," wrote WNST’s Luke Jones.
"Today's development … doesn't come with any guarantees beyond 2019," wrote The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec.
"But this feels different. This feels like a statement from an organization undergoing change that it has the only coach it wants already in place. This feels like an acknowledgement that Harbaugh is the right guy to preside over the development of young quarterback Lamar Jackson, the single most important factor in the future success of the organization."
As Zrebiec points out, Jackson is also under contract with the Ravens through the 2022 season, assuming Baltimore picks up his fifth-year option. Thus, Harbaugh is now joined at the hip with a second franchise quarterback, as he started his career in Baltimore with rookie Joe Flacco in 2008.
"By agreeing to a contract extension, Harbaugh ensures he'll lead the franchise deeper into the Lamar Jackson Era," wrote PennLive’s Aaron Kasinitz.
Zrebiec's main takeaway is that Harbaugh is the bridge amidst a sea of transition, and that he now has a longer runway in which to work.
It's not only Jackson stepping in for Flacco, but Eric DeCosta taking over as general manager, and the potential departure from a few over-30 players who could be salary-cap casualties (or just not re-signed). That could leave the Ravens quite young next season.
Harbaugh still had one more year left on his contract, and the team had announced that he would be back in 2019. Both sides could have opted to just play it out, but they didn't.
"The Ravens need to become much more dynamic on the offensive side of the ball, but this isn't a one-year trial run with Jackson at the helm. The offense is not going to be scrapped if he experiences some growing pains in year two. Nor should Harbaugh be on the proverbial 'hot seat' if the Ravens, who stand to look a lot younger next season with the potential offseason departures of Joe Flacco, Michael Crabtree, Terrell Suggs, Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle, take a step back in 2019," Zrebiec wrote.
"The Ravens could have easily decided that the best approach was to stand pat, giving them another year to gauge Jackson's growth, the remaking of the offense around him and how a younger team is responding to Harbaugh. Today's announcement is proof that the Ravens don't need another year of evidence that Harbaugh gives them the best chance to win."
Zrebiec pointed out that it's Harbaugh's fifth contract extension (this is a new contract, but you know what he means) since Super Bowl XLVII.
"Today's deal, however, strikes a different chord," Zrebiec wrote. "It isn't a reward for winning a championship or a show of support during or after a disappointing season. It's more of a commitment to the longtime head coach to usher the Ravens into a new era."
Antonio Brown in Purple? C.J. Mosley in Black and Gold?
Could two stars on AFC North rivals switch jerseys? It's not very likely (at all) but it is being talked about.
In case you just awoke from hibernation, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown could be on the outs in Pittsburgh after yet another public feud. Yesterday morning, Brown opened the door even wider.
That has led fans of every single team around the NFL (I didn't check this, but I'd bet all my money) to tag their team on Twitter to alert them of the news. Like this …
Oh, and players too …
So, what are the chances of Brown being traded to Baltimore?
The Athletic's Mark Kaboly reached out to every team's beat reporter to break down their team's chances of landing the All-Pro receiver. Sorry to burst your bubble, Ravens fans, but the Ravens were given "no chance."
"The Ravens, who have struggled with developing young receivers and need to upgrade the talent around Lamar Jackson, would obviously love to add a player like Brown. They are expected to move on from several veterans this offseason, so cap space wouldn't be a huge impediment, and they also have a history of accommodating high-maintenance players," Zrebiec wrote.
"However, let's face it, the Steelers aren't going to trade him to their biggest rival, and the Ravens probably lack the draft capital to get Brown anyway. The Ravens will settle for not having to play him twice a season."
Only the San Francisco 49ers, who Brown has been cyber-flirting with, were put in the "a good chance" category. The Ravens were one of 21 teams with "no chance." So, yeah, don't hold your breath.
But what about the other half of this headline? Could C.J. Mosley really end up in Pittsburgh this offseason? Some Steelers bloggers are buzzing about it.
"Inside linebacker is on the Pittsburgh Steelers' to-do list, and signing a divisional star would not only help their chances but hurt their biggest rival's," wrote Fansided Steelers blogger Ryan Sakamoto.
"After helping keep Pittsburgh out of the playoffs this past season, Mosley may be enlisted to help the Steelers compete to win Vince Lombardi Trophies for the next several years if the black and gold can sign him this offseason," added 247 Sports blogger Bryan Deardo.
Mosley will hit free agency this offseason unless he is given the franchise tag (unlikely) or signs a contract extension before March 13 at 4 p.m. The Ravens and Mosley have both been clear about their desire to remain together, and that seems like the most likely scenario.
But unlike in the case of Brown, the Ravens have no control over where Mosley goes if they don't re-sign him. So, Pittsburgh could always be a possibility.
The Steelers have a desperate need at inside linebacker with Ryan Shazier, Jon Bostic and Bud Dupree all set to hit free agency. Outside of LSU's Devin White, there isn't a stud first-round inside linebacker that could step in right away as a starter. Pittsburgh could also clear up some cash to make a run at Mosley.
"The team may be wise to upgrade via free-agency as an alternative," Sakamoto wrote. "If this happens, look for them to create cap space by letting RB Le'Veon Bell walk while using the remaining capital gained to target Baltimore Ravens four-time Pro Bowl ILB C.J. Mosley."
The Steelers were deciding between Shazier and Mosley in the 2014 draft. They went with Shazier, and Mosley was selected by the Ravens two picks later. Mosley is now set to play in his fourth Pro Bowl in five seasons.
As it often does, free agency comes down to money. Yesterday, Mosley told our own Garrett Downing at the Pro Bowl that he hasn't heard any updates but was expecting to talk to his agent later that day. Zrebiec reported last week that the Ravens have had talks with Mosley's agent.
So, what will Mosley's value be?
According to Spotrac, it's projected at five years for $49 million with an average salary of $9.7 million.
In terms of age, contract status and statistical production, Spotrac compares to the Jaguars' Telvin Smith (four years, $45 million), Giants' Alec Ogletree (four years, $42.7 million) and Minnesota Vikings' Eric Kendricks (five years, $50 million). The Texans' Bednardrick McKinney also inked a five-year, $50 million deal last offseason.
The question is where Mosley ranks with them and Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who currently has the highest average annual salary ($12.4 million) of anyone at his position. He signed that $62 million extension in 2015.
"I'm banking on Mosley cashing in on even a bigger payday," Somakato wrote. "Look for the Alabama product to strike a deal similar to a five-year contract worth close to $65 million."
Ravens Should Re-Coup Second-Round Pick; Expected to Get a Third-Round Comp
While trading up to grab Jackson at the end of the first round last year was, by all current measures, a genius move, it did mean the Ravens had to part with their 2019 second-round pick.
Now DeCosta enters his first draft as the Ravens' general manager with just two picks in the first two days (subject to change) and a bunch of needs.
"The Ravens believe they've found a franchise quarterback but now are tasked with surrounding him with adequate weapons," wrote 105.7 The Fan’s Joe Schiller.
"Under the guide of newly appointed general manager Eric DeCosta, the draft provides the perfect opportunity to develop young talent. And to have the best opportunity to do that, the Ravens should try to recoup the second round pick they lost."
So how would Baltimore do that? Perhaps it could be done by trading Flacco.
"Let's start with a second-round pick," former Redskins GM Charley Casserly said.
A second-round pick may be a little on the optimistic side, but who knows? As Schiller pointed out, the Vikings sent first- and fourth-round picks to the Eagles for Sam Bradford before the 2016 season. Quarterbacks are always in demand.
The most likely way to get that second-round pick back, however, would probably be to trade back from No. 22 in the first round. "It was Ozzie Newsome's forte and as his right-hand-man, DeCosta could follow a similar path," Schiller wrote.
The Ravens are also projected to get a third-round compensatory pick, via OverTheCap.com, after losing center Ryan Jensen in free agency last year. Compensatory picks can now be traded, so it's more ammunition for the Ravens to use in the draft.
- The Browns want to re-sign former Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who flourished in Cleveland down the stretch and put a scare into Baltimore's playoff hopes in Week 17. General Manager John Dorsey said the Browns have already had conversations with Perriman's agent. [Cleveland.com]
- Former Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson put NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on blast for his silence since the egregious blown pass interference call that cost Watson a trip to the Super Bowl in his 15th and final season.