Webb's Future, Chances Of Signing Big-Name Corner
Even though Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb are expected to be healthy and the starting next season, cornerback is still considered to be one of the biggest needs for the Ravens this offseason.
Do you concur, Jamison Hensley?
"[The biggest is] still cornerback," the ESPN reporter wrote. "No one can have any confidence either [Smith or Webb] will hold up for an entire season based on their injury histories."
Smith's 2014 season ended with a Lisfranc foot injury and he has only played a full 16-game slate one time in his four seasons in the NFL. Webb missed all of training camp, the preseason and three regular-season games with a back injury, which required a big chunk of the season to completely heal. He's also suffered two season-ending ACL injuries during his career.
Despite his injury history, there's no question Smith will be on the roster. He enters his fifth season still on his rookie contract for the bargain price of a reported $2.37 million. When Smith is healthy, he can shut down one side of the field, says Hensley. In eight games with Smith last season, the Ravens allowed an NFL-low seven touchdown passes. In eight games without Smith, the team allowed 15 touchdown passes.
While Smith is a lock, Hensley feels like Webb's future is more in question.
That's partly because Webb is reportedly scheduled to make $12 million next season, which is the third biggest Ravens' salary cap hit behind defensive tackle Haloti Ngata ($16 million) and quarterback Joe Flacco ($14.5 million).
Webb made $4.5 million less in 2014, and he was still dubbed the player with the worst value by ESPN's Kevin Seifert, because the injuries hurt his production. Webb only notched one interception, and it didn't come until the season finale.
"The Ravens likely will ask Webb to take a pay cut from his $8 million [base] salary," wrote Hensley. "If he declines, the Ravens are going to have a decision to make."
Fans are wondering whether the Ravens will add a starting cornerback via free agency, and Hensley said that all depends on what happens with Webb. Either way, the Ravens aren't known to be big spenders on the free-agent market, particularly at cornerback. Some of the biggest free agents in recent history that the Ravens brought in were Samari Rolle and Domonique Foxworth.
Hensley names the top corners on the market, barring their teams don't re-sign them before the March 10 opening bell:
Darrelle Revis (Patriots): No. 4 cornerback in 2014, per Pro Football Focus
Kareem Jackson (Texans): No. 11
Chris Culliver (49ers): No. 14
Brandon Flowers (Chargers): No. 15
Byron Maxwell (Seahawks): No. 45
For comparison, Webb was rated the No. 78 cornerback last season and Jimmy Smith was No. 20.
Hensley didn't get into how likely it would be that the Ravens would sign any of the five pending free agents, except for one: Revis Island.
"[I]t's not happening, Ravens fans," Hensley wrote.
Boston Globe Twists Harbs' Compliment Into A Plea For Forgiveness
John Harbaugh told NFL Media's Omar Ruiz that despite all the DeflateGate hoopla, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick "is the greatest coach of our generation, without question."
"I don't think anybody would doubt that. Nothing is going to change that," Harbaugh added.
New Englanders are convinced by Fox Sports' Jay Glazer's report that the Ravens "tipped off" the Colts about underinflated footballs even though Glazer also mentioned in the same breath it could have been something the Colts noticed the last time they played New England in Week 11.
Based off that assumption that Harbs was the whistleblower, The Boston Globe's Ben Volin says Harbaugh's compliment sounds like a man pleading for forgiveness.
"It's a nice gesture to defend Belichick's honor and try to minimize the impact of the Deflategate incident. And Harbaugh sure knows how to butter him up," Volin wrote. "But there's a second message, here — of a man pleading for forgiveness."
This guy must have missed Harbs complimenting Belichick like this on a regular basis for the past seven years. Or, those facts weren't convenient for his story.
The theory in Boston is that Harbaugh took exception to Tom Brady inviting him and the Ravens to "study the playbook" after Harbaugh talked about their substitution practices in the divisional-round playoff game.
"Harbaugh, supposedly, got his revenge a week later with his buddy Pagano," Volin wrote. *"'Oh, so you want to talk about the rule book? Let's check those footballs.'" *
"Never mind that the Patriots may have been deliberately skirting the rules (although the NFL has not determined anything at this point). In NFL circles, ratting out the Patriots was the far bigger crime," Volin wrote.
Cue the eye roll and the SMH (shaking my head) tweets.
Again, there are reports that the Colts may have learned about the improper balls themselves. But let's pretend for one second – and only one second – that somebody other than the Colts tipped this whole thing off. THAT'S the bigger crime?
105.7's Jerry Coleman, please talk some sense into this situation.
'Bill Nye The Science Guy' Say Belichick's Scientific Explanation 'Didn't Make Sense'
While we're on the topic of DeflateGate, I could resist some hilarious material that the Patriots are gift-wrapping for comedic relief.
First, is this gut-busting "Saturday Night Live" skit.
And when Bill Nye The Science Guy has become a part of an NFL story, you know things have gone way, way too far.
Belichick called for an unplanned media session in which he explained his scientific theory about how the Patriots football could have become underinflated without any of his staff intentionally doing so. Did Belichick's theories hold any water?
Bill Nye told "Good Morning America" that the pressure loss in footballs that Belichick described "didn't make any sense."
Clayton: Ravens Sent Message With Cody Cut
Why in the world did the Ravens need to announce Friday they would cut defensive tackle Terrence Cody after the Super Bowl?
The former second-round draft selection was scheduled to become a free agent in March anyway. The Ravens could have just not re-signed him.
Well, according to The Baltimore Sun, Cody is under investigation for animal cruelty surrounding the death of his dog. He hasn't been charged with a crime, however, and his agent Peter Schaffer explained that Cody took the dog to a veterinarian for treatment and then the dog subsequently died.
"The fact that the NFL has created such an atmosphere of hysteria that tramples on due process rights, the right of law and common decency is a tremendous problem in our league and our society," Schaffer told Aaron Wilson.
"This young man's dog has died, and the Ravens were so worried about possible ramifications from the league that they took a pre-emptive strike. … We don't fault the Ravens. They're put in this awkward predicament of what's going on. We hold the Ravens in the highest regard. It's a predicament caused by the significant overreaction of the league that tramples on players' rights. I'm not going to sit idly by and let it happen to my client."
Harbaugh after the season that the "threshold of tolerance" has changed since five players were arrested last offseason. He said there is a standard his player must uphold as NFL players.
While the Ravens didn't cite a reason for Cody's release, ESPN's John Clayton believes the Ravens are sending a message about their new threshold of tolerance.
"Perhaps the strangest news in the National Football League Friday was the release of Terrence Cody of the Baltimore Ravens. Why is it strange? He's a free agent. There's no need to announce anything. … [There is a] new accountability I think with the Ray Rice thing coming to the Baltimore Ravens. So because of this – even though it was unnecessary – the Ravens wanted to get out that Cody is not going to be back."
• Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman doesn't think the Patriots will be punished. "Not as long as Robert Kraft and Goodell are still taking pictures [together] at their respective homes. I think [Goodell] was just at Kraft's house last week for the AFC championship. Talk about a conflict of interest." But Peter King pointed out the Goodell stripped the Patriots of a first-round pick and fined them $750,000 for Spygate. [MMQB.com]
• "I think I'll say one thing to you, Seattle fans, pre-emptively: Don't tell me I'm a Marshawn Lynch hater," wrote King. "I understand rooting for the big star of your team, and Lynch is a great player and a really good team guy. But do not try to defend a man who has something going on in his head that tells him to grab his crotch on national TV after he scores a touchdown. It is demeaning, and you are demeaning yourselves as one of the best groups of fans I've encountered in 31 years covering the NFL by defending the indefensible." [MMQB.com]
• The Pro Bowl still attracts thousands at the stadium and millions on TV. [ProFootballTalk.com]