The biggest Ravens news of the “weekend” happened Friday afternoon when NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport set social media abuzz by saying Le’Veon Bell to the Ravens “makes sense.”
Bell then responded with the “thinking face” emoji, and it all took off from there.
In case you missed it …
Ravens players aren't opposed to the idea ...
Bell enjoyed all the love …
Bell also got a new Instagram follower on Friday – Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. And Bell took notice.
So, is this all just social media chatter? Or could this marriage actually happen?
Outside of Rapoport saying it “makes sense” because the Ravens were in the running back market last season when they traded for Ty Montgomery, most pundits don’t envision Bell coming to Baltimore for several reasons.
First and foremost is $$$.
“New Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta recently said he wants to be ‘financially responsible’ with the cap. Signing Bell to a lucrative deal wouldn't adhere to DeCosta's philosophy,” ESPN wrote.
As The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer wrote, Bell reportedly turned down a five-year, $70 million offer from Pittsburgh in July before sitting out the entire year instead of signing a one-year $14.5 million franchise tag.
Bell’s reported aim was a long-term deal worth more than $17 million annually. Only Flacco made that much money last year on Baltimore’s roster, and nobody else was even close.
With Flacco’s contract coming (partially) off the books, the Ravens can create enough cap space to afford Bell. But would it be the best decision, especially with C.J. Mosley and other Ravens also set for free agency?
“The Ravens also would prefer to spend money on talent retention, not acquisition,” Shaffer wrote. “Bell is a great football player. For the Ravens, he probably wouldn’t be the greatest investment.”
Other reasons why pundits don’t see Bell in purple and black are because they A) don’t see him being a good fit in Baltimore’s new offensive scheme …
“Bell's ultra-patient running style also isn't a great fit for run-option plays, which will likely remain a big part of this season's offense,” ESPN wrote. “Other questions with Bell range from his durability to how well he'll play after sitting out an entire season.”
… and B) don’t believe in, generally speaking, investing much in the position.
“The Ravens established a powerful running game late last season with an undrafted rookie (Gus Edwards) and a former third-round pick who missed all of 2017 (Kenneth Dixon) as the top backs,” wrote Penn Live’s Aaron Kasinitz. “Baltimore could find better, more cost-effective uses for its newfound financial freedom than dumping money into a ball-carrier with a successful past.”
“Given the wear and tear on running backs — the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley signed a four-year, $57.5 million contract in July, then disappeared in the postseason — Ravens officials would likely consider unwise a contract with significant money guaranteed,” Shaffer added.
DeCosta and the Ravens haven’t given any indication that they would be interested in Bell, and they won’t. But the notion of one of the game’s top running backs coming to Baltimore will likely continue to be a popular talking point around town, especially after all the social media buzz.
“Could the Ravens sign Bell? Sure,” Kasinitz wrote. “Is it likely? Probably not.”
Ravens Among Biggest Super Bowl Windows, But Not Predicted to Win One
With Bell and potentially Antonio Brown departing the Steelers this offseason, there’s a lot of chatter about whether Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl window is closing.
The Ravens, on the other hand, have begun a “new era” with Jackson, and are trending in the right direction after winning last year’s AFC North crown. Thus, NFL.com’s Adam Schein included Baltimore among his nine teams with the biggest Super Bowl windows.
“New general manager Eric DeCosta was coveted by other teams for ages, but he stayed loyal to Baltimore and now gets his crack at running the show, with longtime GM Ozzie Newsome stepping aside. DeCosta's first move, inking coach John Harbaugh to an extension, was brilliant, considering the proficiency with which Harbaugh seems to reach the playoffs (seven times in 11 seasons),” Schein wrote.
“I'm a big believer in QB Lamar Jackson, who went 6-1 down the stretch as a dual-threat starter, and in Jackson's growth under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who's worked previously with mobile quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor. And while there are key players headed for free agency, including C.J. Mosley and Za'Darius Smith, DeCosta will figure out how to keep that cupboard stacked.”
The Ravens have (likely) four more years of Jackson on his rookie contract. They will have more salary cap flexibility to retain key players and build around him. Remember when Jackson told the world that the Ravens were going to get a Super Bowl out of him?
“Believe that,” he said.
With all that said, however, none of MMQB’s 10 writers envision the Ravens taking home the Lombardi Trophy in the next five years. Two writers picked the Browns to win the title and one picked the Steelers.
If looking to kick off a Super Bowl dynasty, emulating some of what the New England Patriots do isn’t a bad place to start. Shaffer looked at three ways the Ravens can follow the Patriots’ lead.
Ed Reed’s Pick for Best Raven Ever: Justin Tucker
TMZ, the masters at cornering athletes and trying to get them to say shocking things, stuck a camera in Ed Reed’s face sometime recently.
One of the questions was this: Who is the best Raven ever? The obvious answer would be one of the team’s three Hall of Famers, Reed, Ray Lewis or Jonathan Ogden. Reed gave a very diplomatic answer.
“I don’t know who is the best Ravens player ever,” Reed said. “We played as a team and not one guy could do it by himself. I don’t know, man, I guess that’s a fan vote.”
Reed was pressed again … (this is what TMZ does).
First, Reed pointed to Joe Flacco, giving him credit for “not turning the ball over” during his epic 2012 Super Bowl run that helped Reed get a ring before his career was all said and done.
Then Reed revised his answer to … kicker Justin Tucker.
“My rating is probably different than a lot of people’s,” Reed said. “It’s probably Justin Tucker. Yeah, man. That’s Mr. Automatic right there.”
Reed also went on to say that it’s Jackson’s team now and that Flacco might end up in Jacksonville this offseason.
- NBC Sports’ Peter King mentions Za’Darius Smith as one of the quality free agents that will make March so fun this year. “Pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith of the Ravens is a fascinating prospect too, after recording 60 quarterback disruptions in 2018 … and keeping in mind that Baltimore loves compensatory picks and may be inclined to hope some team spends big on Smith in a market that could see most of the pass-rush talent get tagged,” King wrote.