Late For Work 11/23: Early Ravens Contract Watching For 2017

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Early Ravens Contract Watching For 2017

It's early, but it's never too early to start looking ahead at Ravens contracts and unrestricted free agents for 2017.

Two separate notes on outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and right tackle Rick Wagner from this week's news cycle piqued my interest on the topic.

First, the Atlanta Falcons reportedly signed right tackle Ryan Schraeder to a five-year deal worth up to $33 million. Both Schraeder (undrafted rookie) and Wagner (fifth round) came into the league in 2013, and both have been regular starters since 2014.

"You can bet [Wagner] took note of the reported … extension," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "Wagner, who has played much better of late, will probably be looking at a similar deal this offseason."

The Ravens rank 26th in the league this year in offensive line spending, according to Spotrac.com. They've been able to pay so little in part because they have three starters – Wagner, left tackle Ronnie Stanley and left guard Alex Lewis – who are being paid from their rookie contracts. A majority of their backups are on rookie contracts too.

If you ask Zrebiec, the Ravens will continue to get good value at offensive line and won't have to pay Wagner a big deal like the one Schraeder received in Atlanta.

"The bet here is the Ravens move Alex Lewis to right tackle next season, let Wagner walk and gain a compensatory pick in the process," Zrebiec wrote.
Below are 13 Ravens players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this offseason, per Spotrac.

2016 UFA

AGE

1

Steve Smith

37

2

Kamar Aiken

27

3

Jerraud Powers

29

4

Matt Elam

25

5

Lawrence Guy

26

6

Anthony Levine

29

7

Devin Hester

34

8

Ryan Mallett

28

9

Vladimir Ducasse

29

10

Asa Jackson

26

11

Brandon Williams

27

12

Kyle Juszczyk

25

13

Ricky Wagner

27

The highly-anticipated return of Dumervil continues to be a talking point as the 32-year-old veteran works through a foot injury that has limited him to two games this year.  

He's just a little over a season removed from setting the Ravens franchise record of 17 sacks, and he expects to play at the same level once he returns.

"I expect the same thing," Dumervil said last week, per The Baltimore Sun. "We've got Eric Weddle, and we've got a lot of the guys that were young last year that have matured and are playing at a high level. Having [outside linebacker Terrell] Suggs back [Achilles] helps. So I just know that I won't be the only focus point, as it was last year. I know if I can get my one-on-ones, my goal is to always beat my guy. If I get double- or triple-teamed with the weapons we have now, they're going to pay for it."

While we wait to see what happens with Dumervil in the short-term this season, The Sun's Edward Lee pointed out there will also be questions about his future status in Baltimore.

"The long-term question is whether he will be with the team next fall," Lee wrote. "Dumervil is scheduled to count nearly $8.4 million against the salary cap in 2017 before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2018."

Said Dumervil, "Retirement is nowhere near my vision."

Dumervil's 2017 cap hit ranks as the fourth-highest on the team behind quarterback Joe Flacco, cornerback Jimmy Smith and right guard Marshal Yanda. Below are the Ravens' top-15 cap hits next season, per Spotrac.

Player

2017 Dead Cap

2017 Cap Hit

1

Joe Flacco

($47,300,000)

$24,550,000

2

Jimmy Smith

($12,300,000)

$12,600,000

3

Marshal Yanda

($7,575,662)

$9,125,220

4

Elvis Dumervil

($2,375,000)

$8,375,000

5

Mike Wallace

($2,250,000)

$8,000,000

6

Dennis Pitta

($4,400,000)

$7,700,000

7

Lardarius Webb

($2,000,000)

$7,500,000

8

Terrell Suggs

($5,900,000)

$6,950,000

9

Eric Weddle

($5,250,000)

$5,750,000

10

Shareece Wright

($2,666,667)

$5,333,333

11

Ronnie Stanley

($16,759,908)

$4,655,529

12

Jeremy Zuttah

($2,214,412)

$4,607,206

13

Justin Tucker

($7,300,000)

$4,300,000

14

Benjamin Watson

($1,000,000)

$4,000,000

15

Sam Koch

($2,400,000)

$3,100,000

Lewis Is Welcome At Flacco's House For Thanksgiving

Ravens future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis likely has his plans set for Thanksgiving, but if he wanted to go to Flacco's house for a turkey dinner, he would be more than welcome.

Flacco showed he has no hard feelings after the linebacker-turned-media analyst questioned Flacco's passion. Lewis subsequently apologized for his comments, and clearly Flacco is over the whole incident enough to have Lewis over for a family gathering.

"Listen, Ray's always invited," Flacco told USA Today's 'For The Win' blog. "He's not going to come to Thanksgiving dinner, but I'm not opposed to having Ray around. … Ray has other plans. We're going to have a small family gathering this year, so it's nothing special."

Flacco answered other Thanksgiving questions, including saying that he'd love to have wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. over for dinner because it'd be full of heated debate and a lot of laughter.

The Ravens quarterback also gave some advice to all the people that like to play a game of family backyard football.

"Oh man. Don't be the team that gets hurt," Flacco said. "I feel like I envision a lot of hamstrings getting pulled and a lot of bumps and bruises out there. Don't be the guy that ruins it for everybody. I think at the end of the day that's how you win: You come out of it healthy."

Ravens Left With Little Choice But To Abandon Run Baltimore's offense frequently comes under scrutiny for abandoning the run, and sometimes the criticism is warranted as Head Coach John Harbaugh has admitted after some games that his team could have been more patient with it.

The Ravens were criticized again after they ran two designed runs in the second half after rushing for 86 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in the first half.

Neither Zrebiec nor WNST's Luke Jones believes the criticism is warranted this time around.

"The Ravens have certainly abandoned the run at times, but Week 11 doesn't fit that narrative," wrote Jones. "Look at the play-by-play and you'll find a spot or two for another run, but the ratio was skewed because of a multi-score deficit that led to 15 straight dropbacks to close the game."

Well, Zrebiec actually did go through the play-by-play on the Ravens' four second-half possessions – which really isn't a lot of possessions as the Dallas Cowboys controlled the clock – and he also saw only one or two times where the Ravens could have attempted more rushes.

He said maybe the Ravens could've rushed on their first possession of the third quarter, but on their next drive, a 9-yard run was wiped off the board because of a 15-yard penalty by center Jeremy Zuttah, creating a second-and-16 and forcing the Ravens to throw two completions that were short of the first-down marker.

The Ravens scored a touchdown on their third possession while moving the ball only through the air when they were down 24-10. With just 11:30 remaining and getting few chances with the football, they had to score quickly and rushing would've eaten up the clock. That takes us to the final possession with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter when the Ravens didn't have any timeouts and were down 10 points. Passing was the only option.

"Maybe there were one or two opportunities in the second half to run the ball, but it's hard to be critical with how pass happy the offense became in the second half," Zrebiec wrote. "You're just not going to run the ball on second- and third-and-long when you're trailing in the game and you're not seeing the ball for stretches of 8-10 minutes."

Are Penalties A Result Of Coaching Or Overmatched Players?

The Ravens know that if they want to beat teams with winning records, they need to eliminate mistakes. That did not happen against the Cowboys, as Baltimore racked up a season-high 136 penalty yards.

The team is on track to have a franchise-high 134 penalties for 1,166 yards this season, according to CSNMidAtlantic.com.

Harbaugh has constantly spoken to his players about the infractions, and he's implemented consequences at practice for players that commit penalties. But Jones is starting to wonder who's really to blame for the continued yellow flags.

"I'm torn whether penalties are a bigger reflection on the coaching staff or on undisciplined — and potentially overmatched — players," Jones wrote.

S. Smith Gear Headed To Hall of Fame

It's still unknown whether Steve Smith Sr. will be inducted into the Hall of Fame (he certainly deserves it, IMO), but we at least know he'll have some sort of presence there.

Ravens Vice President of Public Relations Chad Steele tweeted a picture of the gear Smith was wearing when he notched his 1,000th catch Sunday, and said it's on the way to Canton. Smith is only the 14th player in NFL history to accomplish such a feat.

Ravens Need To Find A New No. 3 Quarterback

The Chicago Bears signed Ravens third-string quarterback David Fales off the practice squad after starting quarterback Jay Cutler injured his throwing shoulder and is expected miss some time, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.

Fales has never played in an NFL game, and has already been cut and re-signed to the Ravens practice squad multiple times this season. His return to Chicago makes sense, as he was drafted by the Bears in 2014 and is familiar with their offense.

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