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Late For Work 2/29: Ravens And Joe Flacco 'Close' To New Deal


Ravens And Flacco 'Close' To New Deal

The Ravens and the agent for Joe Flacco are "close" to a restructured deal after the two sides met last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, according to The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.

How close?

"Close enough to keep going," agent Joe Linta told's Mike Florio.

"Sources familiar with the negotiations believe they'll be able to soon finalize a deal," wrote Zrebiec.

ESPN's Adam Caplan reported "significant progress," and's Jason La Canfora added the two sides exchanged numbers in a "good, extensive" meeting.

They were "close" as of Friday with multiple reports saying they were to meet again Sunday night to further solidify an agreement. If they continued with as much progress yesterday as they had in the previous meetings, there's a chance we could have announcement this week.

The goal would be to lower Flacco's $28.55 million cap number (the third-highest in the NFL) before the start of free agency on March 9. The Ravens could create $8 to $12 million cap space with an extended contract, and he would likely get more guaranteed money and continue to average more than $20 million per season (nine NFL QBs average as much), says ESPN's Jamison Hensley.

The deadline is more than 10 days away, and there is "mounting optimism" that a new contract will be inked "comfortably" ahead of that time, says Zrebiec.

 "The fact that the two sides are making progress so far in advance of the deadline suggests a spirit of pragmatism and mutual cooperation," wrote Florio. "Flacco, who signed a contract that was backloaded from a cap standpoint to help the team pay him $62 million over three years, apparently realizes the differences in the circumstances between 2013 and 2016.

"Last time, it was time to get paid as much as he could. This time, it's time to do something fair and reasonable for both sides, continuing his current $20 million per year average (with may be a modest bump) while also ensuring that the team has the room to maneuver under the annual spending limit."

Don't Be Mad At Osemele If He Tests Free-Agent Waters; Monroe Relationship Hurt?

Even though the Ravens made a "really aggressive" offer to left guard/tackle Kelechi Osemele, you probably shouldn't get your hopes up that he'll accept it anytime soon.

Osemele is only 10 days away from finding out how much demand there is for him. Since he's waited this long, it stands to reason that he'll wait a little longer to make a decision after he has a clear idea of what all his options are.

Can anyone be mad about that?

"Look, I don't know what's going through Osemele's head right now, but put yourself in his shoes for a moment: In about 10 days, he could enter a free-agent market that is overflowing with teams who have offensive line needs and millions of dollars to spend. The 26-year-old, who won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie, can pretty much name his team and his price," wrote Zrebiec.

"Perhaps he ultimately decides that he has a good thing going with the Ravens, who have offered to compensate him more than fairly. But you can't blame Osemele if he wants to at least see what else is out there."

In the meantime, some fans and the folks at Russell Street Report have suggested that the Ravens' disclosure of Osemele's offer would hurt their relationship with left tackle Eugene Monroe, especially if Osemele declines and the two sides stick together.

Zrebiec doesn't see there being a problem.

"It shouldn't," he wrote. "Monroe is a smart guy. If the writing wasn't on the wall late in the season when the Ravens moved Osemele from left guard to tackle, it surely was when team officials gave him a tepid endorsement in the 'State of the Ravens' address last month, and again last week, when General Manager Ozzie Newsome remarked that Monroe was considered the starter only because Osemele is a pending free agent."

Early Tag On Tucker Indicates Two Sides Far Apart

Kicker Justin Tucker's agent, Robert Roche, announced Friday that the Ravens have already placed the franchise tag on his client.

Making that move four days before the deadline suggests the negotiations didn't go as smoothly as Flacco's.

"The early nature of the decision reflects how far apart the sides remained," wrote WNST's Luke Jones. "The Ravens have until July 15 to reach a long-term deal with Tucker before he must play out 2016 for the tag amount, but it would be in Newsome's best interest to strike a deal sooner rather than later to clear cap room."

The Ravens still haven't confirmed that they've tagged Tucker, and Jones thinks that is for salary-cap purposes. They can put off adding $4.572 million on the cap until Tuesday.

King: Wouldn't Bet Franchise On Any Pass Rusher In Draft

The slow 40-yard dash times of Ohio State's Joey Bosa (4.80 seconds) and Eastern Kentucky's Noah Spence (4.87) are hurting their draft stock in the media's eyes.

ESPN's Todd McShay said as much about the two top-ranked pass rushers, and's Peter King said he "wouldn't bet the franchise on any pass rusher in this draft."

This after one drill at the combine?

"As much as we justifyingly ho-hum results of runs and lifts and such, that's just not good," wrote King.

"Pass rushers are so difficult to project. Two years ago, Jadeveon Clowney—despite mediocre college production in his final season—was the first overall pick. Now Houston's got to be asking serious questions about Clowney, who has 4.5 sacks in 17 career games, and has missed 16 games due to injury. There's something about desire and strength and love of the game (Von Miller, J.J. Watt) that has to be a major part of the process. The guys at the top of the draft scare me."

Just to put this in perspective, Terrell Suggs ran his 40 in 4.8 seconds. That slow time pushed him down the draft board a bit and the Ravens got him at No. 10.

If Bosa, who is considered by many as the best overall player in this draft, is passed over until No. 6, Newsome could reap the benefits.

Both Spence and Bosa told reporters this week they have met with the Ravens, which isn't too surprising. The Ravens have a good idea of who will be available at the sixth-overall pick, they are allowed 60 interviews at the combine and have a need at pass rusher. It would be surprising if they didn't meet.

Ravens Could Have Their Pick From Deep Pool Of Corners

The Ravens would like to get a big-time cornerback that could start alongside Jimmy Smith for the next several years, and they are in prime position to take one of their choosing in what Zrebiec calls a "deep pool" in this year's draft class.

It's unlikely that Florida State's Jalen Ramsey will last to the sixth-overall pick, but there's a chance. Even if he doesn't, there is plenty of other solid talent to choose from, including Florida's Vernon Hargreaves, Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller, Clemson's Mackensie Alexander and Ohio State's Eli Apple.

Each has questions surrounding them – as all prospects do – but there's a chance they could all be plug-and-play starters.

"The good news for the Ravens is that there's enough depth at the position where they should be able to get an immediate contributor even if they bypass the position with the sixth overall pick," wrote Zrebiec. "But they certainly can't afford to miss."

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