Baltimore Named As Possible Landing Spot For Colin Kaepernick
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's future in San Francisco is in doubt after he was benched earlier this month, then placed on injured reserve with a labrum injury in his left (non-throwing) shoulder this week.
Could he end up in Baltimore?
Some people around the league believe that's a possibility.
Looming over San Francisco is the April 1 deadline that would make $11.9 million of Kaepernick's contract guaranteed for the 2016 season. That will be the cutoff date to decide whether to keep him, trade him or cut him.
Due to his ineffectiveness this season, combined with his massive cap hit, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the 49ers will seek a trade this offseason. Rapoport added that San Fran had at least three teams inquire about a trade before this year's deadline, but the unidentified teams ultimately couldn't take on his salary mid-season.
"I doubt San Francisco will be able to make a trade, because who's going to want to pay Kaepernick $13.9 million next year when they're not sure he can be their quarterback of the short- or long-term?" asked MMQB.com's Peter King.
If King is right, San Francisco could be forced to cut Kaepernick, leaving him as an unrestricted free agent to sign with any team he desires. King said he talked to a few "league people" over the weekend about possible landing destinations.
There were four cities listed, and Baltimore was named as the third-most likely possibility.
"Because of the Harbaugh connection – and now, because there's no guarantee Joe Flacco will come back from his torn ACL and MCL suffered Sunday, considering that the third preseason game for the 2016 season comes exactly nine months from this week," wrote King.
The quarterback that squared off against Flacco in Super Bowl XLVII becomes his backup? That would be quite the fall for Kaepernick.
The other three options named in order were the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders.
The Ravens will need another backup because Matt Schaub's contract is up after this season. But I have to say, even if Kaepernick winds up being cut, I can't see a competitor of his caliber choosing Baltimore over the likes of Philadelphia or New York, where there's a better chance of regaining his starting status. The same goes for any other destination that offers a starting opportunity.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said yesterday that, while it's still very early and things could change, Flacco is expected back by training camp. Let's say for argument's sake that Flacco takes longer than expected and lands on the physically unable to perform list to start the year. The starting job would likely still be his by mid-season.
Plus, Kaepernick would have to come on the cheap. Flacco's scheduled $28.5 million cap hit will likely be reduced after contract negotiations this offseason, but it will still take up a decent chunk. The Ravens can't afford an expensive backup.
"One other thing on Kaepernick: Inside the Niners, there's a prevailing opinion that he has to rededicate himself to football and approach the game the way he did in his first couple of years with the Niners," wrote King. "He's always been a worker bee in regards to his physical condition, and now he has to be that way, tirelessly, about the mechanics and study of the position."
Naïve To Think Injury Will Lower Flacco's Value
For those expecting the Ravens to get a bigger discount on Flacco due to his injury, don't count on it.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec said it would be "naïve" to suggest his value is suddenly lower because of ACL and MCL tears. Plenty of players have returned from such injuries and gone on to play at very high levels.
"It's wishful thinking that it will help the Ravens," former NFL agent Joel Corry told Zrebiec. "The biggest thing that helps the Ravens more than the injury is the fact that this has not been Flacco's best year.
"If you're his agent, you consider the injury irrelevant. Carson Palmer has torn two ACLs. He went down at this point last year and he didn't miss a game this season. And Carson Palmer is an MVP candidate."
League Issues Statement On Controversial Keenum Injury
Flacco's injury has gotten all the buzz in Baltimore, but the concussion sustained by Rams quarterback Case Keenum during the same game has been more controversial.
Keenum's head was slammed to the turf on the Rams' final drive, and he immediately held his head and struggled to stand up. A teammate had to help him.
Keenum stayed on his knees, then slowly walked away from his teammates. He spoke with Rams trainer Reggie Scott. Meanwhile, backup quarterback Nick Foles began to warm up on the sideline.
But Keenum headed back out onto the field to finish the game. His next two plays were an incompletion and a lost fumble that ultimately led to the Ravens' game-winning field goal.
It was announced by the Rams after the game that Keenum suffered a concussion, but everyone wants to know why he wasn't pulled from the game immediately when he showed obvious signs of the concussion. Why didn't the Rams trainer catch it? Why didn't the NFL "spotter" catch it?
The league implemented a new rule this season in which a "spotter" in the press box has the power to stop the game if he or she sees any player struggling with a potential concussion. A team's medical staff can do the same.
The NFL announced Monday that they are looking into the breakdown:
"Promptly after the conclusion of yesterday's game, we began a review to determine the facts of the injury to St. Louis quarterback Case Keenum and why he was not removed from the game for the necessary evaluation by a team physician or the unaffiliated neuro-trauma consultant as required by our concussion protocols. We are continuing that review today, which includes discussions with the Rams and their medical staff, the ATC spotter, the game officials, our medical advisors and the NFLPA. In the meantime, prior to this week's games, we will reinforce with all involved the need to ensure that these injuries are properly identified and addressed in a manner consistent with our protocols."
Bears Waive QB Jimmy Clausen, Ravens Interested?
The Ravens are expected to sign a backup quarterback either today or tomorrow, and there's suddenly a new candidate.
If the Ravens are interested in Clausen, they have a good chance of grabbing him. With its 3-7 record, Baltimore is high on the NFL's waiver list.
Harbaugh told media yesterday that the current backup quarterback – punter Sam Koch – has never actually thrown a rep in practice as the emergency option. So how did Koch get the job?
"I guess it's by default like they have the line and everybody steps back," Harbaugh joked. "And Sam was still standing there. That's how Anquan got it. Anquan actually played in college at least, but Sam can throw."
Other options outside of Clausen include Christian Ponder, Jason Campbell, Jordan Palmer and Ryan Lindley, per Zrebiec.
Harbaugh told media yesterday that quarterback Bryn Renner, who threw four touchdown passes and rushed for one in the preseason, is a candidate for the practice squad.
Alarming Trend For Monroe
The offensive line is being hit by the injury bug, and it's forced youngsters into situations they've never experienced.
The Sun's Jon Meoli pointed out that by the end of Sunday's game, the line featured one player making his first NFL start (Ryan Jensen), one making his first career start at center (John Urschel), and the one subbing in for Eugene Monroe rolled into Flacco on the play that caused his season-ending knee injury (James Hurst).
Seeing Hurst on the field has become a common occurrence as Monroe has only started six games this season, and he's left half of those with injuries.
"Injuries are largely out of a player's control, and no one has been as frustrated by them as Monroe is with his, but it's becoming an alarming trend this season," wrote Meoli. "Monroe played quite well sealing off the back side on runs before his latest issue. The Ravens need him on the field."
Most Fun Matchup To Watch Was Williams vs. Gurley
The Ravens defensive line deserves credit for making rookie running back sensation Todd Gurley largely a non-factor in Sunday's game.
He's been compared to greats such as Eric Dickerson and Gale Sayers, and came into the game averaging more than a whopping 5 yards per carry. Yet he left Baltimore with just 66 rushing yards on 25 attempts.
"Brandon] Williams seemed determined to [be the wall into which Gurley’s Rookie-of-the-Year train would crash," wrote The Sun's Childs Walker. "The Ravens' human boulder stuffed Gurley on third and short on the Rams' first drive. Early in the fourth quarter, Williams barreled through a blocker and stripped the rookie, one of four fumbles the Rams lost on the day.
"With seven tackles, Williams added to his case for the Pro Bowl. He's one of only a few Ravens who have played at that level."
Big Day For Surgeries
Both running back Justin Forsett (arm) and Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder) provided updates Monday on their respective surgeries.
Forsett clearly demonstrated a sense of humor as he began his arduous journey back to the field. He is still under contact for the 2016 season – with a reported $3.7 million cap hit – and Harbaugh told reporters Monday that he expects Forsett to return before training camp.
"I'm sure he’ll be back in the offseason lifting weights and training," Harbaugh said. "I would expect Justin to be back next year full-speed, ready to go. He's under contract and a big part of what we're doing going forward."
PFF's Top Offensive And Defensive Grades
Pro Football Talk released its grades for the Ravens-Rams showdown and can be seen below.
For the second consecutive week, Kyle Juszczyk was graded as the top fullback in the NFL. Meanwhile, receiver Marlon Brown's snaps continue to diminish. He finished with four snaps after just five offensive snaps the week before.