Orlando Brown Jr. Tweets That He's a Left Tackle
The Ravens hope to keep together one of the top tackle duos in the NFL, but could that be in question?
On Friday night, Orlando Brown Jr. tweeted: "I'm a LEFT tackle."
After Ronnie Stanley suffered a season-ending ankle injury on Nov. 1, Brown shifted from right tackle to left tackle, where he previously played his entire life. Brown did so well despite the transition that he was named to his second straight Pro Bowl.
However, the issue is that days before the injury, the Ravens signed Stanley to a five-year, $98.75 million contract extension to be their franchise left tackle. Stanley is expected to be back by the start of next season.
"[T]he Ravens can't start two left tackles, much less pay two left tackles," Pro Football Talk's Charean Williams wrote.
This leaves two trains of thought. The first is that Brown wants to be paid as a left tackle, not a right tackle. He has one more year left on his rookie deal and General Manager Eric DeCosta said last week that the Ravens are open to a long-term contract extension.
"You can't fault him for it, either, as left tackles do make more money than the opposite bookend," Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle Barber wrote. "According to overthecap.com, the average of the top five left tackles AAV (average annual value) is at $19.55 million. The same metric is down five million, at only $14.5 million. Over the course of a four-year deal, that's a $20 million difference. ... With all these numbers being floated about, the overall sentiment is Zeus Jr. wants to be paid his rightful money, especially after he plummeted from a first-round lock to a third-round selection after a troublesome combine."
The other thought is that Brown believes he's best suited to play at left tackle and doesn't want to go back to the right side. According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, Brown is "stuck in" and "only interested" in playing left tackle.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote that Brown's tweet "took a few members of the organization by surprise" because, while they know Brown views himself as a left tackle, "it wasn't until recently when some team officials realized it could be a problem."
"It's very hard for teams to pay two offensive tackles at the top of the market at the position. When you take into account the current financial climate, the uncertain present and future of the salary cap and the fact quarterback Lamar Jackson and others will soon need to be paid, it's close to impossible for the Ravens," Zrebiec wrote. "Brown getting a huge free-agent deal from somebody else next offseason (yes, even left tackle money) and the Ravens walking away with another premium compensatory pick in their coffers seemed to be the most likely ending."
The other option, if Baltimore isn't able to pay Brown what he wants or he's adamant about playing left tackle, is trading Brown somewhere so he can play on the blindside. But that certainly doesn't help the Ravens in the immediate future.
"In no way will subtracting Brown from the team's 2021 roster make the Ravens better," Zrebiec wrote. "They're trying to build a Super Bowl-worthy roster and Brown, at least for another year, figured to be a big part of that. They already have enough holes to fill on the offensive line without creating one at right tackle. It would also be foolish to trade their contingency plan at left tackle until they have a better idea of Stanley's progress in returning from a major leg injury."
Zrebiec wrote that General Manager Eric DeCosta would surely listen to trade offers. He traded tight end Hayden Hurst, who wanted a bigger role, last offseason for a second-round pick. But it remains to be seen what Brown would fetch. Zrebiec thinks expecting multiple first-round picks, like the Miami Dolphins got for trading left tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Texans, is "unrealistic."
"There was some skepticism from sources around the league that the Ravens would even get a first-rounder back for Brown, especially since few teams have much cap space to pay veterans and draft picks are more important than ever," Zrebiec wrote.
There's been no indication that the Ravens would trade Brown. Pundits like Russell Street Report's Tony Lombardi believe there are still more reasons why Brown would be in Baltimore next season rather than somewhere else.
It should be noted that Brown has not, as of any public knowledge, formally requested a trade. He's a Baltimore kid who has many times stated his love of being a Raven, following in the footsteps of his late father. But if Brown is adamant about playing left tackle, it might have to be elsewhere.
"The Ravens will have to determine just how dug in Brown is and whether the situation is tenable," Zrebiec wrote. "One way or another, whether he's paid as a top right tackle or as a top-five left tackle, Brown will be a very rich young man soon enough. But if his No. 1 priority is to play left tackle, that check almost certainly won't be written by the Ravens."
Ravens Named as a Trade Landing Spot for J.J. Watt
Amid trade rumors surrounding star quarterback Deshaun Watson, he might not be only the Houston Texan on the move. The future is also reportedly uncertain for defensive end J.J. Watt.
"Should Houston decide to move its franchise quarterback, however, it's likely the five-time Pro Bowl edge-rusher is also going to see his time with the team come to an end," Bleacher Report's Tim Daniels wrote. "Watt would generate plenty of interest from title contenders if he enters free agency."
If the Texans traded Watt, NFL analyst Matt Miller and Sportsnaut's Matt Fitzgerald named the Ravens as one of the potential destinations.
"Each team is either a contender or in a major market, something Watt could prefer if he's interested in a media deal after his playing career is over—something that makes sense as he's one of the most marketable players in the NFL," Miller wrote.
"Baltimore has a lot of front seven players who are no longer under contract, including the likes of Pernell McPhee, Yannick Ngakoue, Derek Wolfe and Matt Judon," Fitzgerald added. "There's little chance the team can retain all of them, or even half of those players.
"[Wink] Martindale would have a field day figuring out how best to utilize Watt, and in this scenario, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year would form a devastating combo up front with the likes of Calais Campbell."
When healthy, Watt has been one of the NFL's most dominant defenders. The five-time All-Pro totaled 52 tackles and five sacks last season, but is just two years removed from a 16-sack season in 2018.
The Ravens were rumored as a potential landing spot for Watt before the trade deadline last season, but a trade never materialized.
DeCosta has shown aggressiveness in the trade market before. The Ravens made a similar move last offseason when they traded a fifth-round pick for Campbell.
Not to mention, Watt spoke very highly of newly-hired Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver, who was with Watt in Houston.
The Ravens face uncertainty at edge rusher heading into free agency, but Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler doesn't believe Watt would be a viable option unless he was released. He believes the Ravens would be better off re-signing Wolfe and letting younger players like Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington continue to develop.
"The Ravens want to get a jump on the Lamar Jackson extension," Schisler wrote. "They want to get their quarterback some help in free agency. They also have two high-profile outside linebackers hitting free agency and they may or may not use the franchise tag.
"Watt may not solve the problem, but signing him could create more problems. You can only do so much in an offseason where the salary cap is projected to be a bit lower. Watt is an easy player to love, but the idea makes no sense. Just forget about it."
Top Senior Bowl Tight End Could Be Draft Target for Ravens
Bleacher Report's Tyler Brooke named one Senior Bowl prospect that each NFL team should covet, and Boston College tight end Hunter Long was his pick for the Ravens.
"Long will be the top tight end to keep an eye on during the draft process," Brooke wrote. "He played all over the field in college and was relied upon as a blocker and pass-catcher. Listed at a solid 6'5" and 254 pounds, he still physically looks like he could add more muscle to his frame.
"Long has a good feel for the routes he's asked to run, timing them well and finding soft spots in the defense. His size and body control make him an asset in contested-catch situations, while his effort and play strength make him a solid run-blocker. Although he doesn't have the explosiveness and lateral agility Kyle Pitts possesses, his skill set would fit in well with Baltimore's offensive system."
Long totaled 685 receiving yards and five touchdowns during his junior season. He was voted as one of the top tight ends by his peers at the Senior Bowl.
Oddsmaker Gives Ravens Third-Best Chance to Win Super Bowl LVI
After celebrating the 20th anniversary of their first Super Bowl, there's plenty of optimism that the Ravens could win a third championship next season.
BetMGM gave Baltimore the third-best odds to win Super Bowl LVI (+1200), only behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers. The Ravens were tied with the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Baltimore's chances too," Ravens Wire's Matthew Stevens wrote. "Not only do they have the 2019 NFL MVP at quarterback and a defense that was among the league's best when healthy, but the rushing attack was once again tops in the NFL."
The Ravens have made the playoffs in three straight seasons. While their success revolves around Jackson, Stevens said Baltimore must continue to surround its star quarterback with weapons.
"While Baltimore finished dead last in both passing attempts and passing yards, the Ravens' offense was 17th in DVOA, showing they might not be as bad as fans believe," Stevens wrote. "Still, finding more help at wide receiver and improving the offensive line needs to happen this offseason if Baltimore is going to have the best chance of improving and living up to the odds."