Reports: Matt Birk To Retire Today
After 15 years in the league, Ravens center Matt Birk is set to retire on top today.
That's what The Baltimore Sun and multiple other outlets are reporting, according to sources with knowledge of Birk's plans.
Birk will meet with students to dedicate a community reading center at Baltimore's Battle Grove Elementary School later this morning.
According to the Ravens press release, "Birk also plans on making another announcement at the school during the ceremony."
Birk, 36, played very well this season and capped it off with a Super Bowl victory in his first trip to the championship game. He quipped after the game that he could "milk this Super Bowl thing for a couple of years," but ultimately took some time off and reportedly has decided to finish with a title.
The six-time Pro Bowler and former sixth-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 1998 has six kids and is a family man at heart. However, the thought of retiring has always been difficult for him because of his love of the game and because he's been healthy and played well the last couple years.
"To my eye, he is playing the best football that he's played since he's been here – right now, at this point," Head Coach John Harbaugh said in late January. "To have that be true at the end of a 24-game season is very impressive."
According to The Sun, Birk had two years remaining on his three-year, $8.525 million contract. If he does in fact retire, the Ravens will realize a savings of $2.05 million against the 2013 salary cap.
That would place them at $12.864 million under a projected salary cap limit of $122 million with another $4.35 million to be gained when middle linebacker Ray Lewis officially retires.
It would only be fitting that Birk retire while dedicating his time and money to reading. He is one of the Ravens' most community-conscious players and was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for 2011.
DeCosta Discusses Flacco, Boldin Contracts
Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta sat down with ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine and discussed a variety of issues, including the Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin contract situations.
Flacco was asked about the chances that Flacco could leave via free agency and said it was "probably negligible."
The Ravens could make it zero percent that Flacco hits the open market by applying the exclusive level of the franchise tag, which would mean no other team could talk to the quarterback. But DeCosta said the Ravens haven't decided whether they'll do that or not.
"We're not sure," DeCosta said. "We've had a lot of meetings, about three or four different scenarios, and I know that his agent, Joe Linta, and our cap guy, Pat Moriarty, will have some discussions in the next few days, over the next week, and hopefully we can get some things ironed out and at that point we can kind of move forward with what our plans are going to be if we can't get a deal done."
DeCosta stressed that the Ravens have "no intentions of letting Joe Flacco leave Baltimore," and praised his leadership and the relationship he has with the front office and coaches.
Another hot player being debated this offseason is wide receiver Anquan Boldin. There's speculation that the veteran could be released to relieve cap space, which Boldin said would cause him to retire.
DeCosta sounds like he very much wants to keep Boldin, but that it may depend on the Flacco deal.
"Anquan's a Raven," DeCosta told Florio.
"He's a great playmaker who played really, really well for us down the stretch. As I said, the offseason is really a series of different moves that all kind of depend on each other. So we'll see, our intention is to have Anquan on the team next year. He's a playmaker for us. He's a tough guy. We love his mentality provides unbelievable intangibles for us in the locker room as a leader and we expect him to be with us next year."
DeCosta also talked about his decision to stay in Baltimore all these years and who the top priority is to keep between linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe. His answer was both.
Jacoby Jones: Flacco Will Be A Legend
Flacco and Linta may be happy to hear this.
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones said Flacco is "going to be a legend" in the NFL someday.
Asked by "NFL AM" if Flacco deserves to be the highest-paid quarterback in the league, Jones said, "Why not? Look what he's done. That man's been to the playoffs since he was a rookie. He's got a lot more he's going to accomplish too. This man's going to be a legend."
Flacco did throw a legendary 11 touchdowns to no interceptions in the postseason – Joe Montana-like numbers. And if Montana is a legend, why can't Flacco become one?
Jones continued his funny interview (as usual) with cracks about his tattoo, the Super Bowl MVP and Twitter battle between the Jets' Darrelle Revis and Seahawks' Richard Sherman.
"Listen, you ever see two lions fighting over a piece of meat in the jungle?" asked Jones. "Would you try to get between them and take it from them? No, I'm not getting in the middle of that one."
Steelers Now Dysfunctional?
Earlier this week, Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau said Pittsburgh, not Baltimore, could have won the Super Bowl had they gotten healthy.
Well that's just the start of all the talk coming out of Pittsburgh these days.
An unnamed teammate recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was "awful" last season, because he wasn't in shape. Safety Ryan Clark told NFL Network that the unnamed commentary was "cowardly." Wide receiver Antonio Brown told ESPN that the Pittsburgh locker room was "divided."
So what do you make of all this?
"Members of this supposed model franchise are bickering, calling each other out, flocking to radio and television shows in a fashion that would make the Jets blush," wrote NFL.com columnist Adam Schein.
"Last season's 8-8 third-place finish in the AFC North was not a fluke. The Pittsburgh Steelers have real problems."
Schein goes on detailing the Steelers' woes from last year and says it has personnel and chemistry issues. He says that not only are the Ravens a better team, but the Bengals too. "This team is living in the past," he wrote.
ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley talks about what it will take to fix the Steelers' "fractured locker room."
- Kruger could be in line for a contract in excess of $40 million, which may make him a luxury that the Ravens can't afford. [The Baltimore Sun]
- DeCosta says this is a "strong draft" and indicates that the Ravens will consider taking a defensive tackle in the first two rounds. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Will Ray Lewis be a bust as an NFL analyst? Don't bet on it. [The Baltimore Sun]
- The Ravens' challenge of keeping a marquee quarterback isn't unique in the NFL. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Baltimore could be hard-pressed to find a left tackle for the future via free agency or the draft. [Carroll County Times]
- @brendon310 (Brendon Ayanbadejo): "5 long years it took this crew to win the championship! Never give up on your dreams!" [Twitter]
- There's a Living Social deal on a "World Championship Party" with Torrey Smith, Lardarius Webb, Bernard Pollard and Ed Dickson.