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Late For Work 2/28: How Eight NFL Free-Agent Moves Immediately Affect Ravens


Deadlines spur action in the NFL, and there was plenty of it Monday.

With free-agency doors set to open in nine days, teams are working to keep their most coveted players before the competition has a chance to lure them away.

The Ravens didn't announce any news themselves, but eight free-agent developments could immediately impact their own moves:

Antonio Brown Hopes To Be A 'Steeler For Life' After Blockbuster Deal; Pittsburgh Tags Le'Veon Bell

The Ravens will now have to worry about defending Antonio Brown for a long, long time. Through 2021 to be exact, if he plays out his new contract.

Brown shared an image Monday evening of his newly-signed deal with the caption "Steeler for life," which could also be interpreted as "Ravens nemesis for life."

Overall, Baltimore has done a good job of containing Brown over the years, but the playmaker always poses a dangerous threat just like he did on Christmas Day when he scored a hard-fought touchdown that essentially knocked the Ravens out of playoff contention.

Not only does Brown's extended stay in the AFC North impact the Ravens defense, but his blockbuster contract will affect the wide receiver free-agent market, where General Manager Ozzie Newsome is expected to search for a veteran to help replace retired Steve Smith Sr.

The Steelers signed Brown to a new five-year deal that makes him the highest-paid wideout in the league. It's essentially a four-year extension (leaving his 2017 salary intact) reportedly worth $68 million and a signing bonus of $19 million.

Pittsburgh also ensured that another one of its top offensive playmakers will stay in town for at least another year, if not longer. The team decided to use its franchise tag on star running back Le'Veon Bell.

"Using the tag was always the likely outcome for the Steelers as the sides work toward a new deal," wrote's Kevin Patra. "With the Wednesday deadline to designate tags, a long-term deal wasn't coming to fruition. The team and Bell now have until July 15 to hammer out a multi-year solution."

Bears Will Not Use Franchise Tag On Wide Receiver Alshon Jeffery

Watch out. The ceiling for wide receiver money might get even higher.

The Chicago Bears reportedly won't use the franchise tag on their top receiver Alshon Jeffery, who already played on the tag in 2016 for $14.599 million. That means if the two sides don't come to a long-term agreement by March 9, Jeffery will become one of the top prizes on the market.

In a matter of weeks, Jeffery could break the contract record Brown set yesterday.

"It's fair to wonder … if Brown will remain the game's highest-paid wideout for long: With Alshon Jeffery set to hit the open market, the former Bears pass-catcher has a chance to crack the bank," wrote NFL Media's Marc Sessler.

Many Ravens fans wonder whether Baltimore will target Jeffery. Never say never, but it's unlike Newsome to target the highest-priced free agents. Either way, Jeffery's eventual new contract will once again affect the overall wide receiver market in which Baltimore figures to be a player.

Thinned Pass-Rusher Market May Force Ravens To Address Position In Draft

A game of (franchise) tag and a recent signing has left the free-agent pass rusher market a little thin.

New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul? Tagged.
Arizona Cardinals' Chandler Jones? Tagged.
L.A. Chargers' Melvin Ingram? Tagged.
Carolina Panthers' Mario Addison? Signed a new three-year deal

The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec is unimpressed with the remaining leaders of the 2017 free-agent class (Green Bay Packers' Nick Perry and New England Patriots' Jabaal Sheard), which could mean the Ravens will have to turn elsewhere to address the position if they are still looking for eventual potential replacements for Terrell Suggs and/or Elvis Dumervil.

"In other words, if the Ravens are going to fill their edge-rushing void, they'll likely have to do it in April's draft," Zrebiec wrote. "And there is some good news along that front: the draft is loaded with promising edge rushers.

"...[I]f they don't take a cornerback or opt to add a skill position player on offense [in the first round], the Ravens should have an opportunity to select from a host of pass rushers. That group could include Tennessee's Derek Barnett, Alabama's Tim Williams, UCLA's Takkarist McKinley and Michigan's Taco Charlton. Other intriguing names are Missouri's Charles Harris, Florida's Jarrad Davis, Auburn's Carl Lawson, Alabama's Ryan Anderson and Wisconsin's T.J. Watt, the younger brother of Houston Texans' star, J.J. Watt."

Chiefs Working To Make Eric Berry Highest-Paid Safety

The Kansas City Chiefs may not have to use the franchise tag on top safety Eric Berry to buy time for a long-term deal.           

The two sides are negotiating a contract that will make Berry the NFL's highest-paid safety, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. There's optimism the deal could be finalized before Wednesday's tag deadline.

The Ravens will pay attention to how high Berry sets the safety market, especially if they plan to dip into it. Baltimore has reported interest in Arizona pending free-agent safety Tony Jefferson.

Marc Trestman Reportedly Heading Back To CFL

Moving on from free-agent news …

Former Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman may have found a new job, but it won't be in the United States. According to reports, Trestman will be named the new head coach of the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League.

The CFL is where Trestman found success as a head coach, and it led to him becoming the leader of the Chicago Bears in 2013. As the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes for five seasons (2008-12), he won four division titles and back-to-back Grey Cup championships.

His new role with the Argonauts will mark Trestman's first coaching job since being replaced by Marty Mornhinweg as Baltimore's offensive coordinator in October.

Ravens Have Fewest Picks In Seven Years

As Baltimore gets its board ready for the 2017 NFL Draft, it will only have seven chances to find players that can help the team.

Those seven selections are the fewest number of picks since 2010, ESPN's Jamison Hensley pointed out.

The Ravens gained a third-round compensatory pick Friday, but won't have their seventh-round selection because it was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for wide receiver Chris Givens (it was originally reported as a 2018 draft pick).

"The last time the Ravens had this few amount of picks was seven years ago," wrote Hensley. "That class included contributors such as tight end Dennis Pitta and defensive lineman Arthur Jones as well as busts such as linebacker Sergio Kindle and nose tackle Terrence Cody. Baltimore has had at least nine picks in its previous four drafts, including 11 last season."

Here are Baltimore's seven picks:

First round: No. 16 overall

Second round: No. 48 overall

Third round: Nos. 80 and 99 overall (compensatory)

Fourth round: No. 123 overall

Fifth round: No. 160 overall

Sixth round: No. 200 overall

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