Examining Two Ravens Trade Scenarios
A draft "dilemma" is brewing, says The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
The Ravens' biggest needs are seemingly at pass rusher and cornerback, yet the top prospects at those positions, Ohio State's Joey Bosa and Florida State's Jalen Ramsey, respectively, are expected to be gone by the time the Ravens are on the clock.
The draft is still 10 weeks away, and things can and will change, but General Manager Ozzie Newsome could have a decision on his hands.
1) Trade up to get Bosa or Ramsey.
2) Stay put to see if one "falls," and if not, take the best player available on the board.
3) Trade down to, say, the Nos. 10-12 range.
Given Newsome's draft history, he is most likely to stay put or trade back, but let's look at each scenario:
*Would Newsome give up highly-coveted draft picks to grab Bosa or Ramsey? *
ESPN's Jamison Hensley reminds us that Newsome has only traded up in the first round five times in the last 20 drafts. He hasn't done it the last six times (last time was in 2009 to get tackle Michael Oher). To move up, Newsome would likely have to give up a second-round pick.
He didn't do it for quarterback Matt Ryan in 2008 and "settled" for Joe Flacco. Looking back, Newsome made the right decision, as he kept his draft currency and Flacco has proven to be the postseason warrior.
"The Ravens' track record says there is little chance of trading up," wrote Hensley. "Baltimore's philosophy is that more picks gives a team more chances to find a playmaker, a starter or key contributor. It's simply the law of averages.
"The decision on whether to move up in the 2016 draft will be based on how the Ravens stack their board. In their minds, how much separation is there between the draft's top pass-rusher (Bosa), left tackle (Laremy Tunsil) and defensive back (Ramsey) and the next tier of players? Is it enough to warrant giving up a second-round pick to jump into the top five? From my perspective, it is awfully tempting to trade up for Bosa or Ramsey because they're defensive playmakers who could put Baltimore on the path to rebound from a 5-11 season."
Will Newsome stay put?
This goes back to how the Ravens' board is stacked. The player most frequently projected to the Ravens is Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley. It wouldn't be the sexy pick, but Stanley could be an immediate contributor and perhaps the left tackle for the next eight to 10 years. That's tremendous value as the Ravens try to protect their franchise quarterback for the next decade.
"You kind of have that wave of players with the Ed Reeds and Ray Lewises that have moved on. They need a dynamic blue-chip player and you're picking that high in the draft," NFL Network analyst and former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah said at the Senior Bowl. "That's not going to happen very often in Baltimore. It might be best to just sit there and take an impact guy."
*Would Newsome trade down, garnering a couple draft picks along the way, and still address pressing needs with an immediate contributor? *
Based on Newsome's track record, this option seems right up his alley. He could move back to the 10-to-12 range and still get potential premiere talent at positions of need.
Some options that could still be on the board at No. 10, per Zrebiec, are Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and Eastern Kentucky pass rusher Noah Spence.
"Such a question is about six weeks premature, but if you ask me, it sure seems like a perfect scenario for [Newsome] to trade back, given his love of collecting picks," wrote Zrebiec.
Salary Cap Could Rise By $12 Million
Most Ravens' salary-cap projections have been based on the idea the cap would rise by $10 million for the 2016 league year.
For example, Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland estimated the Ravens would be OVER the cap limit by $996,000 after all the restricted free agent signings and the Rule of 51 was taken into account.
But, it turns out, the cap limit might be increased by $12 million, taking the total to $155 million. That should take the Ravens back under the limit, with potential cap casualties and a Flacco contract negotiation to open up more room.
Ravens Can't Afford To Franchise Tag Osemele
As you can see, the Ravens don't have much money to spare this offseason. Keep that in mind with the two-week window to assign a franchise tag beginning today.
Given their limited cap space, the Ravens could use the tag on kicker Justin Tucker if a long-term deal is not* *agreed upon by March 1. But, guard/tackle Kelechi Osemele might be too rich for the Ravens' blood.
"When you have a kicker like him, you don't mess around with that," former NFL agent Joel Corry told The Baltimore Sun. "You don't want someone to come in and poach him. Kickers don't grow on trees. I'd think long and hard about letting him hit the open market."
Newsome said at the end-of-season presser that the goal is to lock up Tucker long-term, but if he is tagged, it would cost a projected $4.5 million in 2016. Baltimore could also tag him again in 2017 for $5.3 million.
"This would be the Ravens' way of keeping Tucker on a series of one-year deals, which puts more pressure on the player to produce," wrote Hensley.
When Tucker does get a long-term deal, many believe he could become the highest-paid kicker, eclipsing Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who got a four-year deal reportedly worth $17.2 million.
As for Osemele, using a franchise tag on him would cost a projected $14 million. Zrebiec calls that figure a "backbreaker" for the Ravens.
"You don't have a tackle let alone a guard making $14 million a year. That's a huge windfall," Corry said. "[Osemele's] not a franchise tag candidate. They don't have the cap space to do that."
That means, unless the Ravens agree to a long-term deal with Osemele before March 9, he will hit the open market where 31 other teams will have the chance to bid on him.
Guess Who Had The Highest Wonderlic Test Score In 2014?
Here's a couple of hints:
He's a Raven (obviously). He published a math paper called "A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector" last March. He's getting his Ph.D at MIT this offseason.
Yup, it was math genius John Urschel.
Urschel scored 43 out of 50, the highest score among all players in 2014, according to CSNMidatlantic.com's Clifton Brown. Given it wasn't a perfect score, it's not surprising that Urschel wasn't happy with the final result.
"I was obviously very disappointed in myself about the 43," Urschel told Rolling Stone magazine last year. "And I'm not going to blame it on the fact that this was the first year that they changed it to a new system, but what I will tell you is, man, I was prepared for the old system and I was primed, to, if not get a 50, get close to it. That was a goal of mine." * *