Late For Work 3/13: Pete Prisco: Why Ravens, Not Eagles, Made Better RB Signing

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Prisco: Why Ravens, Not Eagles, Made Better RB Signing

It's no surprise that just like the rest of his football career, Justin Forsett was somewhat lost in the shadow of a bigger-name running back Thursday.

While Forsett was inking his deal with the Ravens, the football world was blowing up with news of the Philadelphia Eagles signing running back DeMarco Murray for five years and a reported $42 million. The Ravens got their man for three years and a reported $9 million.

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco said the Ravens, not the Eagles, made the better signing.

"Why does it always seem like the Baltimore Ravens front office gets it right?" Prisco asked.

"They are one of those teams, whether it's free agency or the draft, that seem to be on point. The Ravens make their share of mistakes – who doesn't? – but they seem to understand that building through the draft, not getting crazy in a wild free-agency market, is the right way to go. They also seem to do a great job of letting free agents walk when the time is right and keeping those that they want."* *

Murray, 26, was the NFL's top running back with a whopping 1,845 yards last year. Of course, Forsett, 29, was no slouch either. In a heartwarming surprise Pro Bowl year, Forsett was the only back to rush for at least 1,200 yards and average at least 5.0 yards per carry. He led all NFL running backs by averaging 5.4 yard per carry.

Yet the Eagles had to pay $8 million a year for Murray, while the Ravens are reportedly paying Forsett $3 million a year. As WBAL's Gerry Sandusky pointed out, the Ravens gave Forsett about $1,960 per yard based on last year's production and the Eagles gave Murray about $3,500 per yard.

"I am not going to sit here and say that Forsett is Murray," wrote Prisco. "But I will say this: There isn't $5 million-a-year difference. Not in this salary-cap era where every dollar matters, especially for a running back. … [T]he way I see it, the Forsett deal makes way more sense than the Eagles unloading LeSean McCoy to pay Murray.

"Good teams like the Ravens, the Packers, the Patriots and some others always seems to get it right at this time of the year. That isn't to say they won't make mistakes, because that's just not possible. But restraint is a good characteristic to have during free agency. It's easy to get seduced by the names. The Ravens get it. … Baltimore doesn't panic. That's why general manager Ozzie Newsome and personnel man Eric DeCosta deserve high praise. It might not always be the sexy way, but it works."

In Forsett's Own Words: Why I Chose Ravens

Forsett thought his NFL career might be over one year and two days ago.

On March 11, 2014 he was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars, his fourth release in six years. On March 12, 2015, he signed a three-year deal with the Ravens. What were the emotions like going from zero to hero?

Read it in Forsett's own words below (I pulled out some excerpts, but his whole blog is definitely worth your time. Read the entire thing here on NFL.com):

My career was in limbo. All I had to stand on was word from my agent that the Baltimore Ravens were interested – but I didn't hear back from them for some time. So while I worked hard to stay in shape, I also prepared to make the next step, taking on internships, doing some job-shadowing at the league office, building relationships and getting ready for whatever was coming.

I had to come to grips with the reality of my situation. Jacksonville had let me go, yes – but in the long run, I'd beaten the odds. I was a former seventh-round draft pick who'd played six years in the NFL. I'd learned a lot. I had grown as a man and an individual. I love football, but if I wasn't going to get another chance on the field, I was determined to be successful at something else.

But then the Ravens made good on that glimmer of hope, signing me in early April 2014, and I went on to have my best ever year as a professional, rushing for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns at 5.4 yards per carry. I had the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL. I made my first Pro Bowl. I played a feature role on a playoff team. And when my contract ran out, I finally had some leverage for the first time in my NFL life. I knew that, Lord willing, I'd be playing football for someone in 2015. I knew I could look at my wife and say, 'You know what? I'm going to be able to provide for the next couple of years.'

Now, after signing a three-year contract with the Ravens, I can say that for a fact.

I wanted to return to Baltimore all along. I wanted to oblige the many fans who stopped me around town to ask me to stay. So this deal was a no-brainer. Not just money-wise, but with regard to the situation as a whole: my role, the city, the fans. It was an easy decision. A three-year deal was what I was looking for, and the Ravens gave it to me. …

I know I can get seriously hurt at any moment out there on that football field. Even the richest man in the world can't buy health. So it has to be about more than money. Which is why this contract -- the biggest of my life -- will have no effect on my work ethic or how I conduct myself. Security is important, but money itself is not what I play for. …

When I'm on my deathbed, I want to be able to look back over my life and my relationships and family and say I made an impact on people's lives. I want to work in such a way and treat others in such a way that people look back years from now at my time with the Ravens and say, "Man, there was this guy here, Justin Forsett, who worked his tail off every day." Those are the things that are going to last.

Look For Ravens To Be Players On Receiver Market

With the Ravens getting their own player locked up in Forsett, they can shift their focus to the rest of the market, particularly for pass catchers.

"Look for the Ravens to be players on the receiver market once it comes into better focus," CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora wrote Thursday morning.

"Still waiting on guys like Dwayne Bowe and Mike Wallace to be cut; Baltimore's preference is always guys who have been released, so signing them doesn't hurt the team's status for compensatory draft picks, and they generally come cheaper that way, too."

Since La Canfora wrote that note, Wallace is still with the Dolphins, but …

Could Ravens Be Michael Vick's Last Chance? Potential Backups For Joe Flacco

Congratulations to Tyrod Taylor, who officially signed with the Buffalo Bills and was told he will have a chance to compete for a starting role.

"It's good to be wanted," Taylor said Thursday during a media conference call. "I guess the opportunity came back around. I am looking forward to working alongside [Head Coach] Rex Ryan. …

"I think being behind Joe definitely helped me mature in the game," Taylor said. "Of course, I was not able to get as many on the field reps as I would like to. … We also learned three different offenses in four years. So just being alongside him and just picking his brain throughout my time there definitely helped me. Like I told him earlier, I thank him for the time spent together. Definitely learned a lot from him. I appreciate everything."

Meanwhile in Baltimore, quarterback Joe Flacco will have a different backup for the first time in four years.  The backup likely won't get much playing time as long as Flacco stays healthy. He's never missed a start in his seven years in the NFL.

The Ravens reportedly maintained interest in Taylor, per The Sun's Aaron Wilson, but will now look to last year's sixth-round pick Keith Wenning to step up. Head Coach John Harbaugh loves competition in camp and they'll need another arm throwing passes to a roster of 90. So, look for the Ravens to bring in another veteran.

"It would be difficult for the Ravens to simply hand the job to Wenning based on his inexperience," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "The free-agent market for quarterbacks is a ragged one." 

Of note, however, is that the Ravens gave Taylor (a former sixth-round pick just like Wenning) the backup job as a rookie in 2011.

Below is who's out there:

Michael Vick
Notes:  No. 1 overall pick in 2001, Jets backup last season, started 3 games (1-2)
Career stats: 1,767 completions, 22,093 yards, 131 TDs, 87 INTs, 80.4 quarterback rating

Hensley: "The Ravens might be Vick's best bet to stay in the NFL. Ravens Quarterbacks Coach Marty Mornhinweg coached Vick as the Jets' offensive coordinator last season and spent four years with Vick in Philadelphia. Vick turns 35 in June and may have one more year left in him. Still a gifted athlete."Christian Ponder
*Notes: No. 12 overall pick in 2011, Vikings backup last season, 14-21-1 as a starter
Career stats: 632 completions for 6,658 yards, 38 TDs, 36 INTs, 75.9 QBR
*Hensley: "Even though he struggled with the Vikings, Ponder was rated high on the Ravens' draft board in 2011 … Ponder is intriguing because he's smart, mobile and has sufficient arm strength."

Jason Campbell*
Notes: 5 teams in 6 years, Bengals backup last season, beat the Ravens in 2013 as the starter for the Browns, 32-47 as a starter
Career stats: 1,519 completions, 16,771 yards, 87 TDs, 60 INTs, 81.7 QBR
*Hensley: "He's got a big arm but can get into trouble with his long release and questionable decision-making. Campbell, 33, is the very definition of a journeyman."

Jordan Palmer
Notes: 6th-round pick (2006), lost starting competition to Jimmy Clausen in Chicago, only 5 career games
Career stats: 11 completions, 66 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 28.7 QBR

Hensley: "Palmer has ties with new Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman, who saw similarities between Palmer and Josh McCown."

Matt Moore
Notes: *Undrafted (2007), Miami backup last season, 13-12 as a starter
Career stats: 452 completions, 5,342 yards, 33 TDs, 28 INTs, 79.2 QBR
*Hensley: "He's considered one of the top backups in the league, even though he hasn't played much the past three seasons. Moore can get the ball downfield and is capable of winning games in a pinch. … The question is whether he would want to play behind another durable quarterback like Flacco." 

Matt Flynn*Notes: 7th-round pick (2008), Green Bay backup last season, 3-4 as a starter
Career stats: 219 completions, 2,541 yards, 17 TDs, 11 INTs, 85.9 QBR
*Hensley: "The problem with Flynn is he's done well in Green Bay and couldn't stick anywhere else (Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo)."

Colt McCoy
Notes:3rd-round pick (2010), Redskins backup last season, 7-18 as a starterCareer stats: 501 completions, 5,458 yards, 25 TDs, 3 INTs, 78.2 QBR
Hensley: "He put together a surprisingly good stretch in Washington last season, when he led the Redskins to an upset of the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. McCoy then returned to backing up Robert Griffin III and struggled in two late-season starts. He lacks the arm strength to consistently succeed at this level. McCoy will likely be on his fourth team in four years."* *
(Tarvaris Jackson is expected to re-sign with Seattle.)

Quick Hits

  • The Ravens were among several teams interested in defensive tackle Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton, but he didn't fit their budget. Knighton signed with the Washington Redskins Thursday for one-year and $4 million. [The Baltimore Sun]
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