Late For Work 2/3: Torrey Smith May Be Best Receiver On Free-Agent Market

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Torrey Smith May Be Best Receiver On Free-Agent Market

Wide receiver Torrey Smith is heading into a pivotal offseason, as the four-year veteran is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

Both* *the team and Smith are on record saying they want to get a deal done, preferably before the doors to free agency open on March 10. If a compromise isn't reached before that time, the chances of Smith's return will be slim, and the market may not offer an upgrade.

Here's why:

The top two free-agent receivers are likely untouchable.

The Cowboys' Dez Bryant is reportedly seeking upwards of $16 million a year, and Owner Jerry Jones is determined to keep him in Dallas. If they don't reach a deal, expect the franchise tag.

The same thing goes for the highly coveted Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos. "It's hard to imagine the Broncos allowing him to reach free agency," wrote NFL.com's Chris Wesseling during the season.

"You can cross them off your wish list," added ESPN's Jamison Hensley.

Here's the next tier of receivers, per Hensley:

Michael Crabtree (49ers), 6-foot-1, 214 pounds, 27 years old
2014 stats: 68 catches, 698 yards, four touchdowns

Randall Cobb (Packers), 5-foot-10, 192 pounds, 24 years old2014 stats: 91 catches, 1,287 yards, 12 touchdowns
Wes Welker (Broncos), 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, 33 years old2014 stats: 49 catches, 464 yards, two touchdowns
Torrey Smith (Ravens), 6-foot-0, 205 pounds, 26 years old2014 stats: 49 catches, 767 yards, 11 touchdowns

Cobb easily had the best season in terms of production. One wonders if he was a product of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, or if Cobb would put up the same numbers with another quarterback like Joe Flacco.

Either way, Hensley thinks Smith might be the best option* *for Baltimore.

"The next tier – Michael Crabtree, Randall Cobb and Wes Welker – aren't No. 1 receivers," wrote Hensley. "The Ravens' best option might be to re-sign Torrey Smith and draft a wide receiver in the first two rounds."

As I've noted before, ESPN's Mel Kiper has the Ravens taking a wide receiver/tight end with their 26th pick in the 2015 draft in Michigan's Devin Funchess.

"What I'd call him is a perpetual matchup problem, a guy you can move around, with the quickness to run crisp routes and easily create space if linebackers try to cover him and enough size to make cornerbacks have to go through him for the ball," wrote Kiper. "Joe Flacco can use a weapon like Funchess."

Will Arthur Brown Pan Out?

The Ravens are set at inside linebacker for the next couple of years with rookie C.J. Mosley and veteran Daryl Smith.

Mosley was voted into the Pro Bowl in his rookie season and Smith has quietly helped Baltimore transition from future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis to a new era.

That has left 2013 second-round pick Arthur Brown buried on the depth chart with little chance to play. A fan asked Hensley whether he thinks Brown will "ever pan out?"

"The Ravens are still holding out hope that he does," Hensley wrote. "The only reason why he's getting time to develop is he's a second-round pick that the Ravens moved up in that round to get (trading picks in the second, fifth and sixth rounds). Brown basically represents three picks.

"The hope is Arthur Brown would team up with C.J. Mosley and form the same athletic inside linebacker duo that the San Francisco 49ers have with Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman."

Brown was only active for four games last season, and undrafted linebackers Zachary Orr and Albert McClellan beat him out for special teams roles. While his future as a Ravens starting linebacker is in doubt, it is possible that he still develops.

"There have been draft picks such as Paul Kruger who suddenly make an impact after not playing much in the first two seasons," Hensley wrote. "At this point, Brown has shown no signs of living up to expectations." 

Ex-Raven Cody Indicted For Animal Cruelty, Illegally Possessing Alligator

On the same day the Ravens officially terminated the contract of defensive tackle Terrence Cody, he was also indicted on charges of animal abuse involving a dog and an alligator, according to multiple reports.

Cody turned himself in when a warrant was issued and he posted $10,000 bail.

He faces 15 counts, including two felony charges involving his dog, a Presa Canario Mastiff, carrying a maximum sentence of three years per charge and a $5,000 fine. He also faces 10 counts of animal abuse or neglect of the dog and an illegally possessed alligator, and two counts for possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana.

Cody's agent, Peter Schaffer, told The Baltimore Sun the case against his client is flawed.

"This is all a result of the NFL allowing players to be convicted before they're tried," Schaffer told Aaron Wilson and Jeff Zrebiec. "If Terrence wasn't a public figure, they wouldn't have ever charged him. It's just ridiculous.

"If he was treating the dog so poorly, why would he take it to the veterinarian? They are trying to say he wanted the dog dead, which makes no sense because he loved the dog. … He's done nothing wrong. This could potentially affect his career adversely, and I'm not going to let it happen. This is a quality young man who's a true animal lover. He wouldn't hurt a fly, let alone a dog."

Meanwhile, the misdemeanor case for disorderly conduct against cornerback Jimmy Smith from last offseason has been dismissed.

"Jimmy is thrilled to put this case behind him," Smith's lawyer, Warren Alperstein, told The Sun. "It's a relief for him to have this over with."

Super Bowl XLIX Most-Watched Show In U.S. History

Super Bowl XLIX on NBC was the most-watched television program in U.S. history and the highest-rated Super Bowl in 30 seasons, according to The Nielsen Company.

The game was seen by a record 114.4 million viewers, which topped last year's Super Bowl game by 2.2 million.

"Last night's Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl ranks among the most exciting sporting events in U.S. history," said Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group. "Super Bowl XLIX delivered for all of our partners, proving once again that the Super Bowl is the most dominant and consistent property on television."

Below are the most-watched programs in U.S. television history, including the Ravens-49ers Super Bowl at No. 5:

114.4 Million – Super Bowl XLIX, NBC (Sunday)

112.2 Million – Super Bowl XLVIII, FOX (Feb. 2014)

111.3 Million – Super Bowl XLVI, NBC (Feb. 2012)

111.0 Million – Super Bowl XLV, FOX (Feb. 2011)

108.7 Million – Super Bowl XLVII, CBS (Feb. 2013)

106.5 Million – Super Bowl XLIV, CBS (Feb. 2010)

106.0 Million – M.A.S.H. Finale, CBS (Feb. 1983)

98.7 Million – Super Bowl XLIII, NBC (Feb. 2009)

Quick Hits

  • Torrey Smith went on a Super Bowl game show, answering goofy questions about Katy Perry, Forrest Gump and more. [SB Nation]

Congratulations to @ZoBot45 on having your high school jersey retired! #blessed #beginningofthejourney pic.twitter.com/Sgt3L8MhBb — Leon W. Dillard (@dillardlw10) February 3, 2015

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