Who Could Be Next in Line For a Contract Extension?
General Manager Eric DeCosta continues to follow through with his plan to retain the Ravens' in-house talent, signing safety Chuck Clark to a three-year extension.
That prompted Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz and other media members to explore which Ravens could be next in line to receive a contract extension.
"The new league year and NFL free agency begin in earnest March 18," Kasinitz wrote. "That gives DeCosta more than a month to consider signing another player to a contract extension before he starts to fill the roster with outside additions."
Kasinitz identified four categories: pending free agents, early extensions, role players, and veteran candidates.
There's no doubt one of the Ravens' biggest offseason decisions surrounds Matthew Judon, but Kasinitz believes Jimmy Smith is the most likely candidate to receive an extension before free agency begins.
"The 31-year-old cornerback has spent all nine of his NFL seasons in Baltimore and could consider a team-friendly offer from the Ravens," Kasinitz wrote.
Smith served as a key piece in the secondary after returning from a Grade-2 knee sprain last season. He's spent his entire nine-year career with the Ravens, and Ebony Bird's Richard Bradshaw sees a scenario where Smith is back in Baltimore next season.
"Clearly the Ravens aren't afraid to invest in their secondary and have made all the right moves, both via the draft and free agency, to make it an elite unit," Bradshaw wrote. "Baltimore has committed to their identity as a team that will be almost impossible to pass on in 2020."
Kasinitz highlighted two main candidates under his early extension category, Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey. Both players performed at an All-Pro level in 2019.
"A school of roster-building thought suggests it's wise to sign superstars as early as possible to lock in contracts before markets bloat and other needs arise," Kasinitz wrote. "Humphrey and Stanley are eligible to sign long-term deals with Baltimore at any point. The problem is that the Ravens would have to devote a significant amount of future salary cap space to sign either player, and Humphrey and Stanley might want to wait to see if their value rises over time."
WNST's Luke Jones says locking up Stanley for the foreseeable future needs to be a top priority. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec, rather, thinks it should be Humphrey.
"Of course, it takes two sides to make a deal, but the Ravens doing everything they can to lock up a franchise left tackle to continue protecting their MVP quarterback in the midst of his rookie contract sounds like a no-brainer," Jones wrote.
"Humphrey, the team's best cornerback, has one year left on his rookie deal, but the Ravens also hold a fifth-year option and it's almost a certainty that they'll pick that up this offseason," Zrebiec added. "So he'll be under contract through 2021 as well. The Ravens would like to extend him, but it doesn't have to be a priority this offseason."
Among the remaining players on Kasinitz's list, Chris Wormley and Tyus Bowser are also eligible for extensions. Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, and Robert Griffin III could be in line as well. All three are set to enter the final year of their contracts in 2020.
Justin Tucker signed a four-year extension last April, and his counterparts have combined to make one of the top special teams trios. Griffin has two seasons under his belt as the backup in Baltimore and has the ability to mimic Jackson's skill set as well as any quarterback in the league.
"These aren't necessarily franchise-defining decisions," Kasinitz wrote. "Even so, the Ravens are always trying to balance the long-term outlook of the roster with immediate needs, and if it takes stress off DeCosta to secure any member of this trio behind the 2020 season, he can do it soon."
Ed Reed Believes He'd Still Be Playing if He Stayed With Ravens
Can you imagine Ed Reed still roaming the secondary in Baltimore? At 41 years old, the Hall of Fame safety believes it could have happened if he had stayed with the Ravens.
"If I'd have stayed in Baltimore I'd still be playing today," Reed told Bleacher Report's Master Tesfatsion. "I know so. ... Because I had everything going the right way. I had my doctor, training, everything."
Reed spent 11 seasons in Baltimore before signing a three-year, $15 million deal with the Houston Texans in 2013. He appeared in just seven games that season before being released.
Reed reunited with former Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan in New York before retiring, and then expressed frustration about his short tenure in Houston.
"You actually brought me in, recruited me, and asked me to tell you the things that I'm telling you," Reed said. "And when I started saying that stuff, they shrugged me off. It was like, 'Nah, that's not how we do it.'"
With Tom Brady set to turn 43 in August, it's not too far-fetched to think Reed could have prolonged his career in Baltimore. Then again, quarterback is a much different position than safety. One of the NFL's all-time greatest safeties totaled 646 tackles and 64 interceptions during his career.
Former Saints Coach Thinks Taysom Hill Throws Better Than Lamar Jackson
Taysom Hill is one of the NFL's most unique talents. He showed his ability to run (5.8 yards per carry), throw, catch (six touchdowns), and contribute on special teams for the Saints last season, but views himself as a franchise quarterback heading into the offseason as a restricted free agent.
Former Saints Special Teams Coordinator Mike Westhoff told CBS Sports' Zach Gelb that he thinks Hill throws better than Lamar Jackson.
"I think you'll see an offense that's similar to Baltimore, that can do a lot of different things," Westhoff said of a potential Hill-based attack in New Orleans. "And Sean Payton is an extremely qualified coach, and he's very, very creative."
Hill and Jackson both present challenges to opposing defenses. Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson even sees some similarities in Hill's ability as a ball carrier.
"Hill obviously isn't Jackson — nobody is — but it would be a mistake to undersell his athleticism and ability as a ball-carrier," Monson wrote. "We're talking about a quarterback who was dynamic enough to earn his first playing time covering kicks on special teams."
But one quarterback finished 3-of-6 with 55 passing yards last season. The other threw for 3,127 yards, led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes, and was the MVP.
- PFF has the Ravens selecting Wisconsin linebacker Zach Braun and USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. in its latest mock draft.