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Late for Work 12/16: How Realistic Is a Terrell Suggs Return?


Suggs Reportedly Wants to Return to Ravens

You couldn't write a better storyline. After recently being released by the Arizona Cardinals on Friday, Terrell Suggs is a free agent, and a return to Baltimore is possible.

"[F]or storylines, need on the field and fit with the organization, Suggs is a match to return to Baltimore," NBC Sports’ Andrew Gillis wrote. "It seems clear that Suggs and the Ravens would've preferred to be married to one another for the duration of Suggs' career, and now there's a chance to bring him back on board for another run at a title."

Just imagine one of the all-time great Ravens defenders returning to Baltimore for a Super Bowl run with an MVP front-running quarterback.

However, it isn't that simple. There are plenty of factors limiting a potential reunion in Baltimore.

Vested veterans, players with at least four years of NFL experience, are subjected to waivers if they're released after the trade deadline. All 32 teams will have a chance to submit waiver claims for Suggs at 4 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon.

The waiver order is determined by record, which means the Ravens are at the bottom at 12-2. But according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Suggs would "strongly consider" not reporting to a team that claims him if it's not the Ravens.

"Suggs has told some people that he is unlikely to report anywhere other than Baltimore, wanting to finish his NFL career in the same city in which he started it," Schefter wrote.

That still won't stop teams from taking a chance on the 37-year-old pass rusher. Suggs' contract will only cost $353K over the final two regular-season games.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the Tennessee Titans could make a claim. There's familiarity with Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees, who was with Suggs in Baltimore from 2010-2017.

Another team that could emerge: the San Francisco 49ers, who are "mulling" a waiver claim with star pass rusher Dee Ford expected to miss up to a month with a hamstring injury.

The Ravens' pass rush has improved throughout the season, but adding a veteran presence like Suggs makes sense. Gillis and Ravens Wire’s Matthew Stevens agreed that Suggs' return would benefit the defense.

"Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale has done a spectacular job of generating pressure through unusual and frequent blitzes, but the defense hasn't won a lot of one-on-one matchups there," Stevens wrote. "And with injuries piling up in an already thin position group, Suggs would be a huge boost at the perfect time for the Ravens."

PFF: Ronnie Stanley Is Having a Historic Pass-Blocking Season

Ronnie Stanley didn't play last Thursday against the New York Jets, but that hasn't stopped the fourth-year left tackle from putting together a historic year. He's the NFL's top pass blocker with a 92.5 grade, according to Pro Football Focus, and hasn't allowed a sack in 13 games.

"With the Ravens positioning themselves for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a run at the Super Bowl, there are a lot of names drawing attention on that roster," PFF's Sam Monson wrote. "But perhaps the most unheralded of them all is Stanley, who is finally locking down the blindside like a Hall of Famer a full decade after the Ravens drafted Michael Oher."

Stanley has been vital in protecting Lamar Jackson's blindside this season, and he's done it against top-tier competition. He's gone up against the likes of Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, and Nick Bosa, all while receiving less help than the average offensive tackle, according to Monson.

"It is entirely possible for a player to have a very good season protecting the edge simply because he never went up against anybody of consequence, but this isn't the case for Stanley," Monson wrote. "He has actually faced a pretty solid slate of rushers, and with only one exception, he has held each one to their lowest pressure total of the season. There's very little argument to be made that Stanley's historic season is simply a product of the players he has faced."

Statistically, Monson said Stanley could be having the best pass-blocking season by an offensive lineman, ever. The next closest comparison would be Hall of Fame Left Tackle Jonathan Ogden.

Stanley missed Thursday night's game against the New York Jets with a concussion. James Hurst filled in quite well, but the Ravens will be hoping to get Stanley back on the field Sunday in Cleveland.

Marcus Peters is a Franchise Tag Candidate

The Ravens will have plenty of key decisions to make this offseason, including the future of Marcus Peters. The cornerback is slated to become an unrestricted free agent, and CBS Sports’ Joel Corry named Peters one of his top candidates to receive the franchise tag.

"Peters has looked more like the player who was named the NFL's 2015 Defensive Rookie of the Year and earned All-Pro honors in first two years since his midseason trade to the Ravens than at any point during his 25 games with the Rams, which includes last year's playoffs," Corry wrote. "He has picked off three passes and returned two for touchdowns during his seven games with the Ravens.

"The cornerback market is due for a major reset. It's been stagnant for several years. Xavien Howard, who signed a five-year extension averaging $15.05 million per year with the Dolphins in the offseason, is the highest-paid cornerback. Josh Norman is still the position's standard -bearer in the most important contract metrics. The five-year, $75 million deal he signed with the Redskins in 2016 has a cornerback best $50 million in overall guarantees, $36.5 million fully guaranteed at signing and a $51 million three-year cash flow."

For Peters, he would receive "a one-year offer from his team that is the greater of the average of the top five salaries at his position once the restricted free agent signing period of the current league year has ended or 120 percent of his prior year's salary."

Based on the 2020 salary cap projections, Peters would earn $16.486 million in 2020 on the franchise tag, making him one of the highest-paid cornerbacks on a per-year basis.

Since coming to Baltimore, Peters has added more of a playmaking dynamic to the Ravens' secondary. His swagger has fit perfectly into Martdinale's defensive unit, and the secondary would be solidified with his return next season.

The question becomes, will the Ravens use the franchise tag? They've only done it three times in the last decade, most recently with Justin Tucker in 2016.

Fast Starts Propelling Ravens

On the opening drive of Thursday night's win over the New York Jets, the Ravens marched 84 yards on nine plays to take a 7-0 lead. It was their eighth opening drive touchdown, the best in the NFL, and fast starts have propelled Baltimore's offense this season.

The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia looked at the productivity of teams on opening possessions, and the Ravens are the best. They've averaged the most points on their opening drive (4.15). The next closest team is the Green Bay Packers, who are averaging 3.77 points.

"This probably doesn't come as a surprise, considering how well their offense has played. Greg Roman and Jackson consistently get off to fast starts," Kapadia wrote. "They've averaged 4.15 points and are tied for the lowest percentage of three-and-outs (7.7%) on their opening possessions. On average, the Ravens' offense has played with a lead of 6.59 points, and the fast starts are a reason for that."

According to Football Outsiders, Baltimore has averaged a league-best 42.59 yards on their opening drive. They've made dramatic improvements under Roman in that category, jumping from No. 11 and No. 23 the last two seasons.

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