Late For Work 2/21: Contract Talks To Heat Up At Combine

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Contract Talks To Heat Up At Combine

The Ravens are in Indianapolis to look for their next crop of rookies.

But they're also there to try to lock up some of their vets. Contract talks are about to heat up.

ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed that the Ravens will meet face-to-face later this week with Joe Flacco's agent, Joe Linta, for the first time since August.

"It shouldn't be a difficult deal to get done," Schefter said. "Everybody knows where the numbers are going to be. The Ravens need the cap relief. And now it's a question of whether the two sides can come up with a deal. If they can't, then the Ravens will use their franchise tag on Joe Flacco."

Ravens Vice President of Football Administration Pat Moriarty will be a busy man. He's also set to meet with inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe's agent, Hadley Engelhard, this weekend.

"I'm sitting down with them, and I hope we'll have some constructive talks," Engelhard told The Baltimore Sun. "Hopefully, that all goes in the right direction. I think Dannell has proven himself to be one of the elite young linebackers in the NFL.

"His best football is in front of him. Hopefully, there's a home for him in Baltimore. If not, I'm sure plenty of other teams will be happy to have him on their roster."

Ellerbe, 27, emerged last season despite battling ankle, foot, thumb and back injuries, and finished second on the defense with a career-high 89 tackles and 4.5 sacks. In the playoffs, Ellerbe made 32 tackles and had an interception off a tipped ball in the AFC championship.

The linebacker said he wants to come back to Baltimore.

"This is all I know," Ellerbe said. "It's a family-oriented team. Guys love each other and fight for each other. I would love to be with a team like this."

However, The Sun's Aaron Wilson says he is "expected to be significantly more expensive than [Jameel] McClain, who was signed to a three-year, $10.5 million contract last March. Ellerbe could cost more than twice that to retain, and the Ravens are dealing with a constricted salary-cap situation."

Steelers' LeBeau Bemoans Ravens' Win

If there was anybody that most didn't like seeing the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII, it was probably the Steelers. Just ask Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau.

"It hurts to see the Ravens win anything," LeBeau told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The coach feels the Steelers could have been the team to win Super Bowl XLVII, but bemoaned that injuries derailed their season.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed three games late in the year, including two against Baltimore. But remember, the Ravens had their fair share of injuries too. Pittsburgh finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. The Ravens went 10-6 and got hot in the postseason.

LeBeau believes there was little to no difference between the Steelers and the team with the Lombardi Trophy, the Tribune-Review said.

"Do I feel we could have done the same thing they did? I do. I do," LeBeau said. "It didn't break that way. … They got the right people back at the right time, and we continued to have more injuries, it seemed like. Many times that decides it."

The Ravens and Steelers split their meetings, with each team winning on the road.

"Can I say with a certain amount of credence we can compete with Baltimore day-in and day-out? I know it and I can say it," LeBeau said. "We didn't have Ben in either one of those games. I know we're a better team with Ben because he's a great player."

The Steelers lost three of their final four games once Roethlisberger returned from injury.

ESPN Confirms Lewis Hire

You can now officially expect to see Ray Lewis in front of the camera next year.

ESPN President John Skipper told SportsIllustrated.com that the hire will happen, confirming January's news that Lewis would move to television.

The Ravens linebacker will have a significant role next fall as an analyst on "Monday Night Countdown" and will appear on "Sunday NFL Countdown" and "SportsCenter."

"We had an opportunity last fall to get Ray and we debated internally some of the history," Skipper told SportsIllustrated.com.

"Obviously, we decided we were comfortable with it. We must have because we did it. I will tell you we did remind ourselves of some of the issues. We sort of decided that the NFL welcomed him back into the fold and the fans welcomed him back into the fold. I think we are fine with second chances and we think he will make great television. Ultimately, we were comfortable with it."

Lewis has long been one of the faces of the NFL, so he's been "back in the fold" for quite some time.

Flexibility was Lewis' main criteria for taking a job, because he wants to attend his son's football games at the University of Miami. Executives at CBS Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports and The NFL Network told SI.com in December that Lewis ranked very high on their watch lists.

Quick Hits

  • Defensive tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu wants to play a couple more seasons, according to his agent. Kemoeatu, 34, revitalized his career after battling weight and injury issues. It's unclear whether he's in the Ravens' plans. [The Baltimore Sun]
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Ravens have three candidates for contract restructuring. [NFL.com] * @TorreySmithWR: "I found a ravens fan in Pittsburgh!! Met @Kristen_g6 at Primanti Bros" [Twitter] * @Ravens: "We've arrived in Indy for the NFL Scouting Combine!" [Twitter] * @Ravens: "There will be a press conference at 2 p.m. [today] to announce upcoming improvements to M&T Bank Stadium." [Twitter] * Fans are ready to see Flacco get paid. [The Baltimore Sun] * Among the issues this offseason: What to do with ? [CSNBaltimore.com] * Safety Bernard Pollard has a parenting debate: "My son is addicted to madden (football)! I'm trying everything to keep him away from the sport but it doesn't help I play it. What do I do?" [Twitter] * Running back Bernard Pierce weighs in on NFL safety issues: "I have no problem with wearing full knee and thigh pads... Did it my whole life" [Twitter] * @jtuck9 (Justin Tucker): "Just saw @espn bit abt the 'best couples' in the NFL.. I think we all know who would win "best trio"#wolfpack @cmorgancox #GetSamOnTwitter" [Twitter] * NFL Scouting Combine preview: Baltimore Ravens. [ESPN.com] * @Artj970 (Art Jones): "I am very honored and humbled to be in my high school Hall of Fame. :-) thanks U.E.H.S #Tigerpride" [Twitter] * "Dragonfly" Jones beats Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane for the NFL Network's Dancing With The Starters championship.

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