Chances Ravens Get Pro Bowl DE Babin
The Philadelphia Eagles released two-time Pro Bowl defense end Jason Babin, 32, one of the NFL's best defensive players from a year ago.
The Ravens, who could always use a boost in the pass-rush department, have not expressed public interest in Babin, but CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora could see Baltimore making a move if given the opportunity.
"[I]f Babin does clear waivers, I'd expect the Ravens to pounce by the way," La Canfora tweeted yesterday evening.
That's a big if.
After the NFL trading deadline, every released player must pass through waivers and all other 31 teams have a chance to claim him based on the current waiver priority, which is essentially determined by teams' records. The squad with the worst record has the highest priority.
The league announced the top 12 teams on the priority list: 1) Chiefs 2) Jaguars 3) Eagles 4) Raiders 5) Browns 6) Panthers 7) Chargers 8) Bills 9) Titans 10) Lions 11) Cardinals and 12) Jets.
With the league's third best record (9-2), the Ravens are low on the priority list, but it may not matter anyway. To claim Babin off waivers, a team would have to pay the remainder of his 2012 salary, reportedly $1.65 million, and then the remaining years of his contract: $4.225 in 2013, $6.175 million in 2014 and $6.15 million in 2015.
According to Brian McFarland, @RavensSalaryCap, Baltimore can't place a waiver claim on Babin because they only have $1 million in cap space.
If McFarland is correct, the Ravens' only shot at negotiating a deal that would work for both sides is if Babin clears waivers, a process that is expected to end at 4 p.m. today. And, again, that's if the Ravens are interested.
So will he clear waivers?
"I would be surprised if he clears waivers. Someone will claim him," tweeted The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
But having to give up nearly $2 million for Babin with only five games remaining this season could be enough for all 31 teams to pass.
"Salary could make it so he clears," tweeted NFL Network's Albert Breer.
One thing is for certain, through waivers or free agency, there will be plenty of interested suitors for a player that notched 18 sacks last year. He's only notched 5.5 so far this season, but that could be attributed to lingering issues with a calf injury from the preseason, and the Eagles' overall woes.
Babin told ESPN that he was surprised by the cut, but thinks it could be a good thing in the long run, especially if he gets picked up by a winning team.
"Maybe it was the best thing for me," Babin said. "I think it's pretty clear what my intentions are. I like to win, I like to compete, I like to sack the quarterback. I imagine there's someone out there looking for that."
Ravens pass rusher Terrell Suggs, who would certainly benefit from having Babin in the mix, sent out an encouraging tweet to the nine-year veteran.
"S/O [Shoutout] to Jason Babin, Keep Your Head Up Bro! Real players know the real!" Sizzle wrote.
Could Ravens Change O-Line Again?
The Ravens have inserted a third player at left guard, but The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec still isn't seeing much improvement at the position and wonders if another change could be coming.
Ramon Harewood began the season at left guard with five starts, then Bobbie Williams took over with four starts, and Jah Reid has started the last two games.
"While coaches have praised Reid, I'm not sure that he's stood out in a positive way any more than Harewood and Williams did," Zrebiec wrote. "Like the other two, there has been some good and some bad."
Head Coach John Harbaugh has consistently said he will play the best five offensive linemen, but Zrebiec questions whether any of the aforementioned are among the top five.
"The Ravens could insert Harewood or Williams back in or they could plug in Bryant McKinnie at left tackle, move Michael Oher to right tackle and then shift Kelechi Osemele to left guard," he wrote. "That would be a pretty drastic transformation for a 9-2 team, especially when there have been no indications that McKinnie is forcing their hands with his play in practice."
Which Steelers Will Play vs. Ravens?
Ravens-Steelers Round II could look very different, as Pittsburgh could have a number of returning players. Here are the updates, per various news outlets and Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin' press conference yesterday:
- Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger* *threw the ball Monday for the first time since sustaining rib and shoulder injuries. "He'll take steps maybe toward playing this week," Tomlin told reporters. "We'll leave the door open for him. He's got a chance."
- For now, the Steelers are moving forward with quarterback Charlie Batch. "Right now, Charlie Batch is our quarterback."
- Running back Jonathan Dwyer will start Sunday, Tomlin announced, demoting Rashard Mendenhall to the third string.
- Wide receiver Antonio Brown will play Sunday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
- Safety Troy Polamalu is slated to practice this week and could possibly make his return Sunday, per Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette.
Power Rankings: Week 13
The Ravens are slooowly climbing the power rankings, moving up one spot in five of the six lists below.
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: No. 5, moved up one spot
"That was a tough victory at San Diego, but good teams find a way – even when things aren't going right. Now they can almost lock up the division by beating the Steelers."
ESPN.com: No. 4, moved up one spot
"Ray Rice ranks third among NFL running backs in total yards with 108.9 per game. But no one is better on fourth down."
Brian Billick, Foxsports.com: No. 6, moved up one spot
"The Ravens better hope they can surpass the Texans to get home-field advantage in the playoffs because the Baltimore offense has looked awful on the road this season."
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: No. 4, moved up one spot
"Joe Flacco had maybe his best road game of his season, but the Baltimore Ravens only had 16 points to show for it after almost five full quarters. Baltimore did score the final 13 points of the game, though, not allowing the San Diego Chargers to get going in the second half. They also got a huge assist from Ray Rice, who saved the day in the fourth quarter."
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: No. 5, no movement
"If the Ravens win the Super Bowl, 4th-and-29 should be engraved on the ring."
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: No. 6, moved up one spot
"Ravens down 10 with six minutes to play in San Diego. Win in overtime. Something to be said for winning late on the road, ugly though it was."
- @lwebb21 [Lardarius Webb]: I just wanted to let my followers know that I'm doing great. Its been 5 weeks out of surgery. Staying focused! #comebackkid #blessed #WORK [Twitter]
- @pmgleason: @RayRice27 has 5 career receptions on 4th down, totaling 92 yards (18.4 avg). All 5 catches have earned 1st downs. #clutch [Twitter]
- @pmgleason: @Ravens have won 15-straight home games & 23 of their past 24. Sunday's opponent is the last team to win in Baltimore. #SteelersWeek [Twitter]
- @ravens: Ray Rice has been nominated for the Week 12 GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week. VOTE HERE [Twitter/NFL.com]
- Adam Schein listed nine players he can't trust, and quarterback Joe Flacco leads the group. "I never have trusted Flacco. Right now, it looks like I never will," Schein wrote. "But he's been very ordinary this year. There's likely a reason that the super-savvy Ravens organization has seemed reluctant to give a new deal to Flacco, even though he's set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2013. He hasn't taken his game – or his team – to the next level." [NFL.com]