Translating 5 Key Ozzie Newsome Comments
General Manager Ozzie Newsome had a rare media appearance at the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday, answering questions on some of the most pressing matters facing his team.
Let's decipher some of his comments:
1) Newsome doubled down on Joe Flacco's contract, reiterating the Ravens can be "very active" in free agency without restructuring the quarterback's deal. What does that mean for the rest of the roster?
EPSN's Jamison Hensley called the statement "peculiar" and wants to bring in math whiz John Urschel to help him crunch the numbers.
The Ravens reportedly have the second-least amount of cap space in the league, so to be very active on the market without lowering Flacco's $28.55 million cap hit, the Ravens would have to make several cuts/trades/restructures elsewhere. They obviously have a plan to do that if need be.
"That could mean releasing veterans, among them defensive end Chris Canty, linebacker Daryl Smith, left tackle Eugene Monroe, and cornerback Kyle Arrington. That could also mean not re-signing offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, both of whom are free agents," wrote CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown.
Is there still a chance Flacco's deal will be re-worked? Sure, but The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec doesn't view it as a foregone conclusion.
"The Ravens have little to no leverage as it is, and there's no way a comment like that would help in negotiations with Joe Linta, Flacco's agent," wrote Zrebiec. "I wouldn’t expect a new deal, but I still think it's almost a necessity before free agency starts on March 9."
2) Curious wording about who the left tackle is.
When asked if he viewed Eugene Monroe as the starting left tackle, Newsome said: "Right now, Monroe is our starting left tackle because K. O. (Osemele) is a free agent."
Interesting wording, right?
"That was not a Pro Bowl endorsement," wrote Brown.
Monroe is entering the third year of a five-year deal reportedly worth $37.5 million, but Monroe has struggled to stay healthy since signing that extension. Zrebiec advocates for the Ravens holding onto Monroe until the team can find an adequate replacement either via free agency or the draft. If they can't, then keep him for the season and hope he stays healthy.
3) Newsome declared Lardarius Webb the starting safety and thinks he's getting Webb at a good price compared to what free agents will get on the market starting March 9. If Webb is the starter, who is the odd man out between Kendrick Lewis and Will Hill?
A couple of things on this one …
First, the speculation about the Ravens potentially asking Webb to take a pay cut for the second consecutive year should end. Webb's reported $10 million cap hit ranks second most among NFL safeties, but that could change in free agency as several teams are on the lookout for impact safeties.
Second, declaring Webb the starter means that one of last year's starters will be the odd man out. Either Lewis or Hill will lose his starting job, and there's speculation as to whether either could lose his roster spot altogether.
4) Newsome expects Breshad Perriman to be cleared for spring activities, and sees a smile on his face again.
I've seen reporters highlight this "smile" comment. It's a noticeable change from the "dark place" Perriman acknowledged he was in during the season.
"An upbeat Perriman is reason for optimism for Baltimore after team officials watched how the No. 26 overall pick dealt with his ordeal last season," Hensley wrote. "He was so distraught over not playing as a rookie and letting down his team that he wasn't talking to anyone, including his parents."
While it's good to see Perriman in good spirits, Zrebiec is a little surprised that he still hasn't been cleared.
5) Newsome confirmed team is ready to use franchise tag on Justin Tucker, which means he officially isn't going anywhere.
It's long been assumed that the Ravens would use the franchise tag on Justin Tucker if a long-term deal wasn't reached by March 1. Newsome confirmed that Wednesday.
"Tucker isn’t going anywhere," Brown wrote.
Yes, but it would still be better to get a long-term deal than settling on the franchise tag. That could still be the case as Newsome has used the tag in the past to buy more time for negotiations with players, including Ray Rice and Haloti Ngata.
PFF Says Ravens Should Target RGIII
Washington Redskins President Bruce Allen essentially confirmed yesterday that his team will release quarterback Robert Griffin III.
RGIII is on record as wanting to play for the Dallas Cowboys, but if you ask the folks at Pro Football Focus (PFF), it's the Ravens who should target the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner and second-overall draft pick. The website names the Texans and Chiefs as two other potential suitors.
"Marc Trestman runs outside zone with frequency, and then develops play action off the same look. Joe Flacco was one of the only QBs to use run fakes more frequently than Hoyer, employing play action on 25.8 percent of dropbacks," wrote PFF's John Breitenbach.
"The organization has also shown an interest in mobile QBs with big arms in the past; Tyrod Taylor spent four seasons in Baltimore before moving to Buffalo in 2015. The Ravens subsequently tested the waters with Jerrod Johnson."
Breitenbach also said that while Flacco is locked in as the starter, Baltimore needs someone who can push him for playing time because he had "arguably the worst season of his career in 2015."
Sorry, but the only way Flacco isn't the starter is if he isn't healthy. Even if the Ravens brought RGIII to Baltimore – a notion I greatly doubt – he wouldn't be a serious threat for the starting role.
On Wednesday, Newsome said he likes his quarterbacks, including current backup Ryan Mallett, who beat the Steelers in Week 16.
Forget About Signing Alshon Jeffrey
If there was any remaining hope the Ravens would sign wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who is currently scheduled to become a free agent, this will kill that optimism.
Bears General Manager Ryan Pace told reporters at the combine yesterday that the team is "actively and aggressively negotiating" with Jeffery, according to Zrebiec.
If they can't work out a deal by March 1, ESPN reported the Bears will use the franchise tag.
"The Ravens are looking to add another wide receiver and red-zone threat this offseason, but they probably wouldn't have been able to afford Jeffery even if he did hit the open market," wrote Zrebiec.
"The current unrestricted free agent wide receiver class is expected to include Marvin Jones (Cincinnati Bengals), Mohamed Sanu (Bengals), former Raven Anquan Boldin (San Francisco 49ers), Travis Benjamin (Cleveland Browns) and Rishard Matthews* *(Miami Dolphins)."