Top Questions For Three Franchise Legends Entering Free-Agent Pool
Tuesday was a reminder that time inevitably marches on.
Just ask the three NFL franchise legends who were released after once enjoying time as some of the best and most-desired players in the league. Age and injuries often comes with declining skills and interest.
These are considered monumental decisions in their respective cities given their big names and histories with their teams, but none are the same players as they were in their primes.
As Ravens fans inevitably ask whether any would be a fit for Baltimore (where Ravens brass is looking to get younger and cheaper), consider the following question for each franchise legend:
1) Does Darrelle Revis Still Have A Desire To Play?30 years old; scheduled to count $15.3 million against the 2017 salary cap
"Revis Island" is no more. The future Hall of Famer's play dramatically fell off last season, leading some to believe he'll need to transition to safety, and there are questions around the league as to whether he even has the desire to continue playing.
"Revis will be a complicated evaluation for interested teams when the new league year starts on March 9," wrote NFL.com's Chris Wessling. "In addition to the legal issues that could result in a suspension or an appearance on the Commissioner's Exempt list, potential suitors will have football questions. Is Revis willing and able to transition from cornerback to safety? Does he have a realistic view of his own ability at this stage of his career? Is he still committed to football after one December report suggested that his heart is no longer in it?"
2) Will Adrian Peterson Ultimately Wind Up Back In Minnesota?Turns 32 this month; scheduled to count $18 million against the 2017 salary cap
Peterson is just one season removed from amassing 1,485 yards, but he played in just three games last year due to a torn meniscus and rushed for just 72 yards. Neither Peterson nor the Vikings are ruling out a reunion after he tests free-agent waters. NFL.com named eight potential landing spots, and it didn't include the Ravens, who have younger backs on the ascent that will come much cheaper. The Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Bucs and New York Giants are popular candidates.
"He's going to have to prove to 31 other teams that he isn't damaged goods, that he isn't hitting the wall that tends to crush older running backs, and that he won't be a distraction off the field as well," wrote CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora.
"Teams want to go young and cheap by and large at running back. There would be natural questions about Peterson's willingness to be a backup on a good team (getting maybe 5-10 touches a game) and questions about his durability if he had to be a bell cow on a bad team. Several GMs I've talked to who have watched his film expressed real concerns about where he is at this stage in his career, and wondered if he would really be willing to play on a one-year, $5 million deal with incentives if that's what the market bears."
3) Is Jamal Charles Really Over His Injury Issues?30 years old; scheduled to count $7 million against the 2017 salary cap
Charles is the Chiefs' all-time leading rusher (7,260 rushing yards), but knee injuries have derailed his last two seasons. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Charles is healthy again, but he'll have to convince general managers of that. He's only started five games over the past two years, and it's easy to see how it has affected his play.
"The former Chiefs back should find multiple suitors in free agency, those who are not desperate enough to pay the top dollar that Peterson merits, but willing to take a flyer on an affordable future Hall of Famer with a few years left on his legs," wrote NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman.
Patriots Won't Use Franchise Tag On Dont'a Hightower
The Ravens are in need of an inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley after the sudden retirement of Zachary Orr, which is why the New England Patriots opting not to use the franchise tag on Dont'a Hightower made news in Baltimore.
Two Alabama inside linebackers and 2016 Pro Bowlers reunited in Baltimore? It's enough to make one salivate, but it's also a wild dream unlikely to come true.
First, Hightower will command big money and the Ravens will more likely give that hefty payday to their own draft pick in Mosley either after the 2017 or 2018 seasons. Second, Hightower still may not leave New England.
"Hightower is a guy who is very much in (the Patriots') plans, a guy they would like to retain," Rapoport said Tuesday. "It's just that the franchise tag is much too high to even consider giving him that on a one-year basis."
Eric Weddle Congratulates Eric Berry On His Record-Setting Safety Contract
The Chiefs announced a six-year, $78 million contract ($40 million guaranteed) that makes Eric Berry the NFL's richest safety.
Count Ravens safety Eric Weddle as one who is happy for his counterpart in Kansas City.
"[T]he safety position continues to rise in stature in today's NFL," wrote TheMMQB.com's Peter King. "Good for him, and good for a position becoming increasingly important."
Ravens Have Four Major Tasks At NFL Combine
A large contingent of Ravens scouts and coaches arrived in Indianapolis Tuesday for the NFL Scouting Combine, and Head Coach John Harbaugh is scheduled to speak with the media this morning at 9:30. (Programming Note: We will stream it live here.)
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec says Ravens brass has four major tasks to accomplish while at the combine:
1) Get an extensive look at the 2017 draft class
"[General Manager Ozzie] Newsome and his top lieutenant, Eric DeCosta, have long called the draft the 'lifeblood' of the organization. This year's draft comes at a critical time for a team with myriad needs. The good news for the Ravens is those needs match up well with the perceived strengths of the draft class."
2) Try to keep their own free agents
"Ravens Senior Vice President of Football Administration Pat Moriarty has already exchanged contract proposals with the representatives for pending free agent fullback Kyle Juszczyk, right tackle Rick Wagner, nose tackle Brandon Williams and reserve safety/core special teamer Anthony Levine Sr. … Moriarty is expected to meet with the agents of Juszczyk, Wagner and Williams this week. It will surely take huge offers to prevent Wagner and Williams, arguably the top free agents at their respective positions, from testing their worth on the open market. However, the Ravens have prioritized both."
3) Get a better read on the free-agent market
"Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, center Nick Mangold, pass rusher Jabaal Sheard, cornerback Logan Ryan and safety Tony Jefferson are all free agents who would be nice fits. The Ravens will have a better idea of the market for those players — and whether they fit in it —by week's end."
4) Make final decisions on roster cuts"The Ravens have approximately $15 million of salary cap space, which is among the least in the league. That number will go down significantly when they have to tender restricted and exclusive rights free agents. The Ravens, though, know there are plenty of moves they can make to create more financial flexibility."
- Former sports agent Joel Cory looks at how previous relationships could affect where free agents ultimately wind up. Here's his take on a Baltimore connection: "Wide receiver Steve Smith putting the cap on a Hall of Fame career leaves a void at wide receiver. The hole will be bigger if the Ravens don't pick up Mike Wallace's 2017 option year for $5.75 million. DeSean Jackson had 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2009 and 2010 when Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg held the same post with the Eagles. Jackson could be targeting a deal averaging twice as much as Wallace's option year, which decreases the chances of a reunion." [CBSSports.com]