C.J. Mosley Will Get Paid by Someone
C.J. Mosley is at or near the top of the Ravens' offseason priority list, as both sides have been clear about their desire to strike a long-term deal.
Here we are, a month away from free agency, and no deal is done yet. Still no time to panic, but it has led to increased chatter about Mosley's worth and whether the Ravens will (and should) pony up the big bucks to keep him.
"There are mixed emotions about signing the linebacker to a long-term contract," wrote Russell Street Report’s Todd Karpovich. "The naysayers say the Ravens should not invest too heavily in Mosley."
So what's "too heavily" actually compute to? To get an estimate of what Mosley's agent may be asking for, take a look at this work by Overthecap.com’s Brad Spielberger, who looked at the highest-paid players at each position while factoring in inflation (because the salary cap keeps increasing).
It's widely regarded that the Panthers' Luke Kuechly is the best inside linebacker in the game. He signed a five-year, $62 million deal in 2015. According to Spielberger's calculations, Kuechly would be paid $15.3 million per year in today's market.
"There's been a lot of talk about whether Ravens pending free agent C.J. Mosley will get top linebacker money and there are plenty of people who say that he shouldn't because he's not as good as Kuechly," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "But when you factor in when Kuechly's deal was signed (as Spielberger did) and the number of teams with an abundance of salary cap space this offseason, it seems inevitable that he'll get that type of deal."
Where does Mosley stack up against other inside linebackers such as the Seahawks' Bobby Wagner, Giants' Alec Ogletree and Vikings' Eric Kendricks? That's open to debate, but there's no doubt that Mosley is in that class.
He's gone to four Pro Bowls in five years. Only two players in the NFL have record at least 500 tackles, eight sacks and eight interceptions since 2014, when Mosley entered the league: Mosley and Kuechly.
It's tough to say Mosley doesn't make enough "plays" after he sealed the Ravens' AFC North title with an interception in Week 17. And Pro Football Focus even gave him high marks for his pass coverage, which goes against the generally-held belief in Baltimore.
"He's placed top-35 in run-stop percentage in each of his four years, including a career-best 10.6 percent in 2018," wrote PFF’s Ben Cooper, who ranked Mosley as his No. 2 linebacker in free agency. "Mosley dispelled talk that he was a liability in coverage after posting career-lows in yards allowed (408), yards per reception (9.3) and yards after the catch (190). If he doesn't get a big contract in Baltimore, another team will certainly be willing to shell out."
"When it comes to free agency, it's all about timing – and demand – which often leads to a lesser player becoming the new highest paid player at the position," wrote Russell Street Report’s Brian McFarland.
It's important to keep a recent quote from DeCosta in mind. He said one of his biggest regrets is that Baltimore has lost good, young players in free agency over the years when the price has skyrocketed beyond what one would typically think it should be.
"We look at the numbers as being crazy even though the numbers aren't crazy if that's what people are paying," DeCosta.
It's all supply and demand. If somebody is willing to pay Mosley top dollar, then that's what Mosley is worth – plain and simple. So, if the Ravens want to keep Mosley, they'll probably have to match it.
"That situation sums up the Mosley decision perfectly," Zrebiec wrote. "If the Ravens don't meet Mosley's asking price, somebody else will. Many teams are in position to 'overpay' to get a player. That's what the Ravens have to live with either way."
So who could give Mosley that kind of contract? You probably don't want to envision this, but imagine if it were the rival Steelers. They have a need there, and it’s been the talk of the town (just like the possibility of signing Le'Veon Bell is making headlines in Baltimore).
The Broncos could also be another potential suitor, as SB Nation’s Scotty Payne wrote. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit wrote that Mosley's best fit would be in San Francisco.
It's not like the Ravens are stacked at inside linebacker either. It may not be the most glamorous position to invest in, but imagine what the Ravens defense would look like if it lost free agent Terrell Suggs, safety Eric Weddle AND Mosley. DeCosta said viewing inside linebacker as less important position is "all well and good unless somebody rushes for 250 yards against you."
"With James Conner in Pittsburgh, Joe Mixon in Cincinnati and now both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in Cleveland, it would be foolish to dismiss the importance of having a middle linebacker who can stop the run," Zrebiec wrote.
Reaction to Antonio Brown's Trade Tweet in Baltimore (Happiness) and Pittsburgh (Anger)
Yesterday's biggest news was Antonio Brown's not-so-cryptic Tweet about his desire to leave Pittsburgh.
This doesn't seem like it's going to get worked out between the two sides.
Here's the latest on the situation from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey jumped on the occasion to give Brown a sales pitch to come to Baltimore. Lamar Jackson, by the way, had previously told ESPN's "First Take" that he'd like to steal Brown.
Problem is, Brown isn't a free agent. Unless he's released by the Steelers (seems unlikely at this point), he would have to be traded. The Steelers have reportedly not yet granted Brown permission to seek the trade he has requested, and they almost definitely wouldn't trade him to Baltimore even if that's where Brown wanted to go.
Really, the best Ravens fans can probably hope for, or be happy about, is not having to deal with Brown in the AFC North anymore. Safety Tony Jefferson seemed to react to the news of Brown leaving the division.
Meanwhile, Steelers fans aren't so happy. Warning: the second tweet includes some foul lyrics.
Eric Weddle Just Outside of PFF 101, But What About Michael Pierce?
Yesterday, my dude Clifton Brown wrote about only _two_ (!!!) Ravens landing on PFF's list of the top 101 players of 2018 – Humphrey (No. 97) and Marshal Yanda (No. 99).
One big question was how only one defender from the league's top-ranked defense could make it. Turns out, safety Eric Weddle was very close.
According to PFF's Michael Renner, Weddle was one of the 10 players just outside the 101. So let's put him in the 111.
"Weddle was once again an impact player versus both run and pass," Renner wrote. "He allowed a grand total of 111 yards in his coverage all season long. The safety's tackling may have been his most impressive attribute this season. He missed all of five tackles on 78 attempts."
What's also a little confusing is that defensive tackle Michael Pierce was PFF's highest-graded Ravens player on defense in 2018, pretty far ahead of Humphrey, and didn't make PFF's top 101 list.
Best Fit for Joe Flacco Is … Miami?
The top landing spots for Joe Flacco are considered to be the Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos or Jacksonville Jaguars.
However, there are some new wild cards popping up.
Yesterday, I wrote about how ESPN’s Bill Barnwell included the Oakland Raiders as a possibility.
NFL Network's Derek Carr pointed to the Miami Dolphins, which hasn't been talked about a lot. The Dolphins still have Ryan Tannehill under contract, but have a new coaching staff in place under new head coach Brian Flores, who was the defensive playcaller of the Patriots last season.
"They've got a new regime in Miami," Carr said, pointing to new offensive coordinator Chad O'Shea, who also comes from New England. "They'll need a pocket passer, a guy who can do everything, experience guy. Joe Flacco to the Miami Dolphins makes a ton of sense to me."
- "The buzz about Ravens outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith heading into free agency is starting to feel just like the attention Pernell McPhee garnered when he hit the open market in 2015. I'm guessing that the result will be the same too," Zrebiec wrote.
- Yesterday, we talked about the possibility of the Ravens signing wide receiver Golden Tate, as ESPN predicted. Here's a follow-up on why that makes sense.