Is WR Pierre Garcon's Subtle Message Good News For Ravens?
Several Baltimore analysts have pinpointed Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon as the best fit to help replace retired Steve Smith Sr., but there's been questions as to whether he'd come to Baltimore (or anywhere else) because he's consistently been on record as wanting to stay in Washington.
However, his messaging seemed to change (?) yesterday with this Instagram post that asks "#YALLHIRING?"
It's fair to wonder whether Garcon's message is directed to the Redskins or the NFL in general. Many national writers interpreted it to be the latter, which would be good news to those who would like to see Garcon in purple and black.
"The obvious insinuation here is that Garcon, currently an employee of the Washington Redskins, will not be an employee of that football team for much longer," wrote CBSSports.com's Will Brinson.
"That shouldn't be a huge surprise, given that Garcon's contract was up. But the Redskins clearly aren't going to use the franchise tag on him (they need it for Kirk Cousins anyway) and have pretty clearly expressed they don't intend on signing him to a new deal."
That's not because Garcon hasn't been productive. It's quite the opposite, in fact.
The nine-year veteran led Washington with 79 catches and 1,041 yards last season. To put that in perspective, it's just slightly more catches than Mike Wallace (72) or Smith (70) had last year, and it beats Wallace's team-leading 1,017 receiving yards.
Garcon is also a model of durability and consistency, playing in 71 consecutive regular-season games. Since 2013, he's averaged 83 catches and nearly 1,000 yards per season.
The combination of trust, durability, consistency and potential price tag is what sets him apart from other potential free-agent candidates such as Victor Cruz, Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall.
So why wouldn't the Redskins re-sign him? Washington reportedly hasn't been in touch with Garcon about his contract yet.
"Washington also has DeSean Jackson looming as a free agent, and used a first-round pick on Josh Doctson out of TCU last year," wrote Brinson. "Jordan Reed is a tight end, technically, but he's just a big, strong wide receiver. Receiver is an option for the Redskins again in this draft too."
If Garcon does hit the market, expect competition. Brinson points out that the Los Angeles Rams' and San Francisco 49ers' first-year head coaches have a "serious" need for quality wideouts. There are surely others out there who could use Garcon's experience and production.
"Garcon signed with a huge-money deal (five years, $42.5 million) as a free agent before the 2012 season, and somehow managed to play the entire thing out, a real rarity in the NFL these days," Brinson wrote.
Victor Cruz Begins Free-Agent Tour With Carolina
Cruz isn't waiting for free agency to open on March 9 to start meeting with potential future employers. He doesn't have to after being released by the New York Giants.
He kicked things off with a weekend visit to the Carolina Panthers, who are in need of a new veteran wideout, according to Black & Blue Review and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.
"Cruz isn’t rushing the process and a deal isn't imminent," wrote Black & Blue Review's Bill Voth. "That the Panthers are at least kicking the tires on Cruz makes plenty of sense."
Cruz, 30, didn't strike a deal with the Panthers before departing, as he has time to embark on a free-agency tour with several teams before the market opens and is flooded with competition. What other destinations could be planned on that tour?
"Cruz has plenty of other suitors to give a minute or 90 to in the coming weeks – Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville are all possibilities, as is Baltimore – so this is only the beginning of exploring where he salsa dances next," wrote NFL.com's Nick Shook.
Unlike Garcon, Cruz doesn't offer NFL teams the same amount of trust that he'll stay on the field for all 16 games because of his injury history. He missed 28 games during the 2014-15 seasons due to a torn patellar tendon and calf injury in back-to-back years.
As such, if the Ravens are interested, I pointed out yesterday that ESPN's Jamison Hensley believes Cruz should only be signed to a low-risk deal.
"Signing Cruz only makes sense if the Ravens bring him in on a veteran minimum deal," he wrote. "The Ravens don't have the cap room to give guaranteed money to someone who has this type of injury history."
Steve Smith Rejects Training Requests To Avoid Comeback Temptation
Since retiring from the NFL, Smith has received countless texts and phone calls that essentially have the same request: "Help me train."
The 16-year NFL pro has rejected all of them, and here's why …
"I had to take a step back and I said, 'You know what? If I do all these things, now I'm getting my mind and body to say, I can still play,'" Smith told Brad Hopkins and James Lofton on SiriusXM Blitz. "So I had to text some guys and say, 'You know what? I don't think it's a good idea for me to watch film with you and work out and train with you because that means I’m telling myself and my family I’m about to go play again. And I don't want to go through that process. I'm done playing.' So if I'm training anybody, their last name is Smith, meaning my kids.
"I'm just going to love on them, and that training is less intense. The goal is so lesser. It's, 'Hey, let's make sure we're drinking water, fluid, and all that stuff.' Out there, when you're training for ball, it's a different animal. So I said, 'No.'"
If Smith really wanted, he could find his way back on the field at age 38. Despite coming off a serious Achilles injury, he caught 70 passes for 799 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games last season. Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti has essentially left the door open if Smith did want to return, saying at the season-review press conference that he wouldn't be surprised to find Smith in his locker room in September.
But, that's the problem. Smith knows he could play. Teams know he could play.
He just doesn't want to anymore, and seems to be avoiding any temptation to be lured back in.
If Tony Romo Is Cut Or Traded, Joe Flacco Will Own NFL's Highest Cap Figure
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has dominated the headlines since the season ended with people speculating on where he will play next season.
With fourth-round pick Dak Prescott shocking the NFL world and putting together a season that earned him the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honor, Romo could be traded or cut after being the Cowboys' franchise quarterback for the last decade.
None of this directly affects the Ravens, but Hensley did find one major tie that will give quarterback Joe Flacco a "lighting-rod label."
Flacco would own the NFL's highest salary-cap figure in 2017 if Romo is traded or cut, which ESPN's Ed Werder reports will happen. Romo's $24.7 million cap number would no longer be on the books, leaving Flacco's reported $24.55 at the top of the list.
"That would move Flacco to No. 1, a distinction that will once again stir up the 'elite' debate as well as the comparisons to other quarterback contracts. Flacco, who ranked No. 24 in passer rating this past season, has a higher cap figure than Tom Brady ($14 million), a five-time Super Bowl champion; Aaron Rodgers ($20.3 million), a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player; and Drew Brees ($19 million), who threw over 5,000 yards for the fourth time last season.
"The Ravens, who currently have the fifth-fewest cap space in the NFL, have 14.6 percent of their entire salary cap allocated to Flacco. His cap number is more than twice as high as anyone else on the Ravens roster except for cornerback Jimmy Smith ($12.6 million)."
Coming off major knee surgery, Flacco broke the 4,000-yard milestone for the first time in his career, but had the 24th-worst quarterback rating (83.5) and threw 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
The Ravens have said they'd like to see Flacco's production match his compensation.
"We have a quarterback, and he is in that level of compensation, so we need to get him playing at that level," Head Coach John Harbaugh said at the end of the season.