8 Potential Replacements Everyone's Talking About
First off, I agree with Nestor Aparicio. These images are weird, weird, weird.
All three represent major holes the Ravens have to fill at starting positions, and the team remains hard at work scouring the market.
In addition to being focused on re-signing starting running back Justin Forsett (more on the RB market below), the Ravens are "also monitoring other positions of need," per The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. That includes wide receiver, tight end, defensive line and defensive back.
"Several players who were released Wednesday could be good fits for a team that tends to prefer signing street free agents — those cut by other teams — rather than true unrestricted free agents, who could cost the Ravens compensatory picks," Zrebiec added.
Everyone is talking about the same street free agents as potential replacements in Baltimore, especially recently released tight end Scott Chandler from the Buffalo Bills.
As soon as he was cut, Zrebiec, Jamison Hensley (EPSN), Luke Jones (WNST), Gerry Sandusky (WBAL) and Glenn Clark (Glenn Clark Radio) all wrote that Chandler would be a good fit for the Ravens. In addition to Chandler, there are seven other players that are commonly named.
TE Scott Chandler*2014 Stats: 47 catches, 497 yards, 3 touchdowns
Owen Daniels 2014 comparison stats: 48 catches, 527 yards, 4 touchdowns
*On the same day that Daniels inked his Broncos deal, the Bills released Chandler in a cap-clearing move that opened up $2.25 million in space. Chandler isn't known for his blocking, which may be OK since second-year tight end Crockett Gillmore mostly focuses on that area. Instead, the former Bill known as a pass-catching tight end, which is exactly what the Ravens need. Chandler, 29, is three years younger than Daniels and is four inches taller at 6-foot-7. He could handle the starting role if Dennis Pitta doesn't play.
"Chandler makes a lot of sense for the Ravens because they need a pass-catching tight end and he's the best one on the market right now," wrote Hensley. "It's also a position with not many great options in free agency."
WR Stevie Johnson *2014 Stats: 35 catches, 435 yards, 3 TDs
Torrey Smith 2014 comparison stats: 49 catches, 767 yards, 11 TDs
*Right on cue, the San Francisco 49ers released Johnson shortly after Torrey Smith officially inked his deal. The seven-year vet had his lowest career output last season, which could make his price a bargain. If teamed up with quarterback Joe Flacco, could Johnson return to the player he was from 2010-2012 when he had three-straight 1,000-yard seasons?
WR Dwayne Bowe*2014 Stats: 60 catches, 754 yards, 0 TDs
*Bowe hasn't been released yet, but he's expected to be since the Kansas City Chiefs signed free-agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen the team will need to make salary-cap clearing moves and Bowe is scheduled to make $10.75 million in base salary. Bowe, 30, is a big-bodied wide receiver (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) that didn't live up to the $56 million contract that he signed in 2013, but his production could rise when catching passes from Flacco as opposed to Alex Smith.
Other players mentioned as fits in Baltimore include tight end Jermaine Gresham (who doesn't seem likely because he wasn't a cap casualty and is drawing interest elsewhere), tight end Anthony Fasano (cut by San Diego Chargers) , tight end Zach Miller (cut by Seattle Seahawks after a failed physical) and defensive tackle Randy Starks (cut by Miami Dolphins). The Ravens have also reportedly shown interest in defensive tackle Terrence Knighton, per Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
For those asking why wide receiver Andre Johnson isn't on this list, here ya go:
Running Back Market Slowing Down To Normal
As the Ravens continue their efforts in wooing Forsett back to Baltimore, the running back market seems to be leveling out after there was a splash with reported big money thrown at LeSean McCoy (5 years, $40 million) and Marshawn Lynch (2 years, $24 million). Frank Gore (3 years, $12 million) got a decent payday, too.
Seeing the market slow down is good news for the Ravens.
"The bidding isn't going to inflate at this point, I don't believe, with the first wave of free agency essentially complete," wrote CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora.
"In the meantime guys like C.J. Spiller and Justin Forsett keep their fingers crossed that [DeMarco] Murray hits a home run, but the reality is I still see Forsett as a $2-$3M guy (and going back to Baltimore) and Spiller perhaps in the $3-$4M range based on some upside, but either way big money won't be there at this position."
Daniels Thought Ravens Would Try Harder To Keep Him
It wasn't surprising that Daniels followed Gary Kubiak to Denver, but Daniels himself was surprised by how little the Ravens tried to keep him.
"Not as much as I thought they would. They came late with an offer, but it was after I had already committed to come here," Daniels told the Associated Press.
Daniels helped teach the West Coast offense when Kubiak implemented it in Baltimore last year, and he became the starting tight end after Dennis Pitta went down for the season with another hip injury. Daniels can play a similar teaching role in Denver.
"There's a level of comfort with the Broncos that may not have been there if Daniels had stayed in Baltimore," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Michael David Smith.
Daniels told The Denver Post that he has already been invited to the Peyton Manning passing camp at Duke University. Flacco doesn't have many of his starting pass catchers on the roster yet, but cue the comments on him setting up a passing practice in 3, 2, 1 …
Congrats to my guy @owendaniels on signing in Denver. Learned a lot from him this past season. — Dennis Pitta (@dennispitta) March 11, 2015
Ravens Remain Interested In Tyrod
Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor is visiting with the Buffalo Bills, but the Ravens remain interested in bringing him back, according to The Sun's Aaron Wilson.
Taylor has a better chance of winning a starting job in Buffalo, as the four-year veteran never got a start behind durable Flacco. He only appeared in one game last season, rushing for -3* *yards.
"That's the nature of the game," Taylor said at the end of the season. "I knew that coming into this situation. When I got drafted here, Joe was pretty durable. My job was to stay ready and I think I've done that in my time here. I've learned a lot."
S Darian Stewart Visiting Broncos
The Ravens will have competition for their most consistent starting safety of 2014. Free-agent Darian Stewart visited the Broncos Wednesday night, according to Wilson.
Wilson noted that Stewart is also drawing from the New York Giants, and the Ravens haven't ruled out a potential return.
Stewart started 14 of 16 games last season, beginning at strong safety and then shifting to free safety when Will Hill's six-game suspension ended. Stewart was replaced by Jeromy Miles after a rough outing in New Orleans, but rejoined the starting lineup and improved his game.
Wilson believes Stewart had arguably his best game in the wild-card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He picked off quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter and went a long way to knock Antonio Brown out of bounds before he could haul in a touchdown pass. Stewart also blocked a punt against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ravens Could Have 10 Draft Picks
Baltimore now has seven picks for April's NFL Draft after the trade for Haloti Ngata.
The Sun and ESPN are predicting the Ravens will get three more compensatory picks after losing Arthur Jones, Michael Oher, Corey Graham and James Ihedigbo in free agency last year. They signed Stewart as a true unrestricted free agent,* *which counters one of their losses.
While three compensatory are expected, it is unclear what round they will be in. Compensatory picks can't be traded and they will be announced later this month at the annual league meetings.
Here are the current seven picks:
First round (one pick, No. 26 overall)
Second round (one pick)
Third round (one pick)
Fourth round (two picks, one from Lions)
Fifth round (one pick from Lions, one pick traded to Bucs for Jeremy Zuttah)
Sixth round (one pick from Cowboys for Rolando McClain. Traded one away to Browns to move back into last year's seventh round for Michael Campanaro)
Seventh round (none, traded to Lions as part of Ngata deal)
Detroit Disses Lions For Trade, Praises Ravens
In Baltimore, Ravens fans hated seeing potential future Hall of Famer Ngata leave. At the same time, it was a smart decision by GM Ozzie Newsome considering the circumstances with the salary cap and the stalled contract extension negotiations.
What is the perspective in Detroit?
While there's an understanding that Ngata can be very productive, they're upset the Lions didn't find a way to keep Ndamukong Suh, and ended up having to spend a lot of money and draft picks to replace him with an aging Ngata. Ngata was Plan C, according to the Detroit Free-Press.
"Good teams recognize the value in fourth- and fifth-round picks," wrote Drew Sharp of the Free-Press. "Good teams consistently develop that value, making it much easier parting with a star whose salary investment isn't consistent with the expected level of production.
"The Ngata trade underscores why the Baltimore Ravens are one of the NFL's elite franchises and why the Lions struggle maintaining mediocrity."