Did Osemele Question Ravens' Appreciation Of Offensive Line?
Sometime words come out in ways we don't intend.
Perhaps that's what happened with former Ravens offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele during his introductory call with Oakland Raiders media after officially signing a deal that reportedly makes him the fourth-highest-paid NFL offensive lineman with an average salary of $11.7 million per year.
Osemele was asked what made him choose to sign with the Raiders, and he noted that he believes Oakland is a young and up-and-coming team.
"Going through the [Raiders] roster, I kind of saw what everybody was saying, and the emphasis on building the offensive line, coming from a place where [it's] not really appreciated, you know?" said Osemele, who is the highest-paid guard in NFL history. "Coming to a team where offensive line play is a focus and it matters and they want to build that up, that was a big factor."
We know Osemele has a lot of love for the Ravens (as evidenced by his Instagram post below), and the feeling is more than mutual. The Ravens really wanted him to stay, and made what they say was an "aggressive" offer in an attempt to do so.
However, local media were quick to disagree with Osemele's suggestion that Baltimore doesn't appreciate the offensive line.
"Where Osemele is off base is questioning the Ravens' commitment to the offensive line," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
"Osemele is an emotional, standup guy and he has no problem telling you how he feels. But his comments are interesting, given the focus the Ravens have put on building their offensive line in recent years," added The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
The proof is in the pudding.
Below are all the assets the Ravens have invested in the offensive line in recent years:
2012: Ravens used a second-round pick on Osemele
2013: Ravens traded fourth- and fifth-round picks to Jacksonville for left tackle Eugene Monroe
2013: Ravens used a fifth-round pick on Rick Wagner
2014: Ravens signed Monroe to a five-year deal reportedly worth $37.5 million (12th-highest-paid left tackle at the time)
2014: Ravens traded a fifth-round pick to Tampa Bay for center Jeremy Zuttah and signed him to a five-year deal reportedly worth $18 million (11th-highest-paid center at the time)
2015: Ravens re-signed guard Marshal Yanda to a five-year deal reportedly worth $34 million (second-highest-paid guard at the time)
Osemele is correct in saying that Oakland puts an emphasis on its offensive line. According to Spotrac.com, the Raiders have invested $31.787 million in the unit, which is the second most in the league.
But that doesn't mean the Ravens don't appreciate the offensive line, spending in the middle of the NFL pack. They also spend that money wisely.
"[The Ravens] reportedly would've made [Osemele] the second-highest-paid offensive player in Baltimore," wrote Hensley. "That meant the offer was over $8 million per season. But the Raiders, who had over $40 million more in cap space than the Ravens, were able to outbid by a wide margin."
Ravens Host G Vlad Ducasse On Free-Agent Visit
The Ravens are still trying to bolster the offensive line after the departure of Osemele.
The team hosted Bears guard Vlad Ducasse on a free-agent visit Thursday, according to ESPN's Field Yates.
Ducasse started 21 combined games over the past three seasons. He's moved around to three different teams during that time, including the Bears, Vikings and Jets. New York drafted Ducasse with a second-round pick in 2010.
Ducasse wasn't immediately signed after his visit, reported Zrebiec.
"If he was signed, Ducasse would likely get an [opportunity] to compete for the starting left guard spot with John Urschel and Ryan Jensen," wrote Zrebiec.
Compensatory Picks Announced Today?
The league usually announces compensatory picks for the upcoming NFL Draft at league meetings, which are scheduled for March 20-23. But CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported they will come much sooner.
The news is surprising, along with La Canfora saying comp picks can be traded. It was previously reported by ESPN that trading comp picks won’t begin until the 2017 draft.
Whenever they are announced, Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland believes the Ravens will definitely receive three compensatory picks after losing Pernell McPhee, Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels in free agency last year. Getting a pick for Tyrod Taylor is in doubt because he signed a small contract, but McFarland says the Ravens expect four.
Why Are Ravens Restructuring So Many Deals?
In the past week or so, the Ravens have reportedly restructured the deals of Joe Flacco (extension), Marshal Yanda (converted base salary to signing bonus), Kyle Arrington (pay cut) and Jimmy Smith (converted base salary to signing bonus).
This is a practice that General Manager Ozzie Newsome has previously frowned upon, especially after he engaged in it after the team's first Super Bowl victory. So why the change this year?
Word on the street is the salary cap will have more major bumps in upcoming seasons.