How Can Ravens Nab Pass-Rushing Monster Von Miller?
Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller is a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks, as was showcased with his terrorizing performance against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the AFC championship game. He had the single-most important outing of that game, and Denver is going to the Super Bowl because of it.
Miller is scheduled to become a free agent in March, and fans from 31 other teams are drooling over the prospects of him coming to their cities, including Baltimore.
So what would it take for the Ravens to nab him?
Well, let's see … the Broncos would have to loosen their grip on him (unlikely), the Ravens would have to restructure Joe Flacco's contract (probable), and then Baltimore would need to blow up its roster to create a ton of salary-cap space (unlikely).
"Sorry, I have bad news just like the questions in previous weeks regarding Alshon Jeffery and Josh Gordon," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley in response to a Ravens fan asking whether the Ravens will make a play for Miller. "Miller isn't going to be available. The Broncos won't let a former No. 2 overall pick and a pass rusher in his prime just walk away in free agency."
Denver GM John Elway will try to reach a long-term deal with Miller, but if they can't reach an agreement, Elway can always use the franchise tag.
The tag will cost the Broncos more than $14 million, but Hensley points out that Denver can save nearly $38 million by cutting quarterback Peyton Manning, aging linebacker DeMarcus Ware and offensive tackle Ryan Clady.
"The Ravens could always hope the Broncos will have another clerical faux pas (or is that fax pas) like they did with Elvis Dumervil," wrote Hensley. "If that happened, the Ravens would have to get in a long line of teams interested in a defensive playmaker who ranks third in sacks (25) the last two seasons."
To give you an idea of what a multi-year contract would look like for a three-time All-Pro pass rusher like Miller, former NFL agent and current CBS analyst Joel Corry said the minimum would be $101 million, with $52.5 million in guarantees, over six years. We're creeping into Flacco-type money at that point, and it'd be tough to absorb two mega contracts like that.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome might be better off (and the more likely scenario is) to bolster the pass-rushing unit via the draft. The Ravens are in a solid position to nab an immediate contributor with their first- or second-round picks.
Flacco Ranks High Among Super Bowl MVPs, Lewis Not So Much
Flacco actually got some love in a rankings list, and this one evaluates some of the greatest in football history.
ESPN's Mike Sando ranked the Super Bowl MVPs over the years, which includes 20 quarterbacks, nine defenders, seven running backs, six wide receivers and one return specialist.
Flacco's Super Bowl XLVII performance comes in at No. 8 overall and the fifth-best among quarterbacks, only trailing Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Steve Young and Doug Williams.
Not too shabby company, right?
Flacco notched three first-half touchdowns in that championship game, and finished with 22 completions for 287 yards, three scores and zero interceptions.
"Only a 34-minute game delay caused by a power outage in the Superdome could slow Flacco during the Ravens' 34-31 victory over San Francisco," wrote Sando. "The 49ers' defense finished the 2012 regular season ranked among the NFL's top five in a long list of categories, but Flacco did not seem to notice."
Linebacker Ray Lewis also earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXV, but he was listed far behind Flacco. He was No. 43 out of 49 total MVPs.
That seems a little low for the leader of one of the NFL's greatest defenses ever, but at least he beat out Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward at No. 44 from Super Bowl XL.
"Lewis was the engine that drove the Ravens' league-leading defense before, during and after their 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in this Super Bowl," wrote Sando. "Lewis finished the game with five tackles and a game-high four passes defensed. Giants quarterback Kerry Collins completed 15 of 39 passes (38.4 percent) for 112 yards (2.9 per attempt) with four interceptions and was sacked four times. Statistically, this wasn't Lewis' best game, but he was certainly the key player on the game's key unit."
Ravens Beware Of No. 6 Pick?
Based off Baltimore's history with top-10 picks, the Ravens should be able to nab an immediate contributor and a potential future star.
Based off the draft history over the last five years with the No. 6 overall pick, however, the Ravens should beware.
2015: DT Leonard Williams (New York Jets) -Didn't get his first sack until December, but started all 16 games.
2014: T Jake Matthews (Atlanta Falcons) -Durable starter (31 of 32 games) and bounced back after a mixed rookie season. He looks to be the franchise left tackle in Atlanta.
2013: DE Barkevious Mingo (Cleveland Browns) -Mingo looks like a "bust," says Brown, as he's regressed each year in sack production.
2012: CB Morris Claiborne (Dallas Cowboys) -He's missed at least five games in each of the last three seasons due to various injuries.
2011: WR Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons) - Solid pick, as Jones has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL since being drafted.
"Recent history suggests the Ravens will be open to trading down, if they don't think they will get a stud like Jones at No. 6," wrote Brown. "They have plenty of needs, so trading down and getting an extra pick might be the best play. However, coming off a 5-11 season, whatever the Ravens do with their pick-six, they need to get it right."
Latest Manziel Incident May Mean Goodbye To AFC North
Fort Worth police were called to investigate an incident involving Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel and his ex-girlfriend early Saturday morning. Manziel was not arrested, but a preliminary investigation indicated that a possible assault occurred, according to ESPN.
The Browns did not offer a statement, but Manziel was already hanging on by a thread after a long list of past incidents since being drafted by the team in 2014.
"The more you hear about Johnny Manziel, the more it becomes clear the Browns need to move on," wrote Brown. "Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, there is overwhelming evidence that Manziel is not ready to be a dependable NFL quarterback, either on the field or off.
"It's very concerning, to say that least, that Manziel has been involved in two domestic incidents since October, although he has not been arrested."
More Reported Concussions In 2015 Not Necessarily A Bad Thing
The NFL revealed Friday that diagnosed concussions rose by 32 percent and reported concussions rose by 58 percent during the 2015 season. This comes after a decrease in concussion numbers the last two seasons.
The trend seems to be going in the wrong direction as the league has increased its emphasis on player safety, but WNST's Luke Jones says the numbers may not be as bad as they initially seem.
"Perhaps something did change that resulted in decreased safety in 2015 or maybe all involved parties — medical staff, officials, coaches, teammates, and even the concussed players themselves — are becoming more effective and responsible in recognizing and reporting concussion-related symptoms," wrote Jones. "In other words, do these numbers represent an increase in actual concussions or is the league merely identifying more of them than it did in the past?
"Concussions are an unfortunate part of the game that will not go away altogether, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do all we can to avoid and minimize their impact. Unfortunately, it's just difficult to know what to make of the numbers released by the NFL on Friday."
Use No. 6 Pick On WR LaQuon Treadwell?
The consensus top receiver in April's draft is Mississippi junior Laquon Treadwell, and he should be available when the Ravens are on the clock at No. 6.
The Ravens need more playmakers on offense, and Treadwll put up 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. So should Baltimore pull the trigger on Treadwell with its first selection?
"At this point, that would be a reach," wrote Hensley.
Draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have Treadwell going at No. 9 and 14, respectively. He hasn't gone much higher in respected mock drafts around the web.
"But Treadwell is the type of prospect who can rise during the pre-draft process (NFL combine and pro day),"* *wrote Hensley. "Recent draft history suggests Treadwell will likely go higher than he's projected right now. A wide receiver has been taken in the top five in four of the last five drafts.
"Do I think the Ravens will take Treadwell at No. 6? My initial reaction is no because I don't see the Ravens taking a wide receiver in the first round in back-to-back years. But, if Baltimore was going to select a wide receiver at No. 6, the overwhelming choice is Treadwell."