Ravens Have Enough Salary-Cap Space To Sign Eric Weddle And Mike Wallace
After restructuring several deals over the last couple of weeks, the Ravens should have enough salary-cap space to sign free agents safety Eric Weddle and wide receiver Mike Wallace … if they want to.
Baltimore is reportedly $12 million under the cap limit and was linked to both veterans over the weekend.
"[The Ravens'] history has been to make one or two early forays into the open market for a player that they identify as a top target," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "Then, they sit back, wait for the market to cool down a bit and make their move on a couple of players that they view as good fits.
"But one difference about this offseason is that [General Manager Ozzie] Newsome and company have the necessary cap space to make moves … more than enough room to make two or three additions. And they could eventually open up more money by addressing the contracts of left tackle Eugene Monroe, tight end Dennis Pitta and doing something about their glut of safeties."
Newsome has the money, but he won't overpay.
Weddle Worth $5 Million A Year?
If the Ravens want to lure Weddle to Baltimore, they may have to pay an average of $5 million per season. According to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora, that's the figure interested teams believe he's worth.
As of Friday, Weddle has received offers from four teams, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. It's unclear whether the Ravens were one of them, but La Canfora reports the Ravens have been keeping "close tabs" on the situation.
Weddle took the weekend to mull the offers, and he's expected to reject two of the offers without a counter. He'll negotiate with the two remaining teams to get the best deal.
"Factors ranging from quality of a team's roster to its surrounding schools will be considered as Weddle forms a decision," wrote Gehlken.
His decision could come as early as today, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.
The Ravens already have a logjam at safety, but Weddle may be too good to pass up. The team has been looking for a playmaking safety that can create turnovers and put the defense in the right positions. Zrebiec points out the Ravens may have a potential recruiter in Steve Smith Sr., as both he and Weddle played at the University of Utah, even though they weren't there at the same time. Smith called Weddle one of his closest friends in the NFL.
Other teams rumored to be interested are the Cowboys, Steelers and Raiders. If Oakland really wants him, they can easily outbid the Ravens, as was shown with Kelechi Osemele. So, Weddle may have to be persuaded that Baltimore represents a better chance at a Super Bowl run.
Whether the Ravens land Weddle or not, it seems they are looking to upgrade at the position. They were also linked to safety Rodney McLeod before he signed with the Eagles.
"While Baltimore probably has too many safeties on its roster, the quality doesn't match the quantity," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Weddle has been a dynamic and consistent playmaker for the Chargers and would represent an upgrade over Will Hill, Kendrick Lewis and Lardarius Webb."
Would Wallace Accept 'Low-Budget Deal'?
The 29-year-old Wallace is scheduled to visit with Ravens brass at the Under Armour Performance Center today, according SI.com's Don Banks. For a contract to be agreed upon, Wallace will have to be willing to accept a "low-budget deal," says Banks.
It will be Wallace's first visit after being released by the Vikings last week.
"[A low-budget deal] might be the reality for Wallace after three years of underwhelming production after signing a big deal with the Dolphins as a free agent," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Josh Alper.
I wrote a bit last week about how Wallace would fit in on the roster. His speed is a match for Joe Flacco's arm, and he can be paired with Breshad Perriman to open up things underneath.
Where Wallace fits in financially is where things will be harder to work out. What exactly does a low budget deal look like?
"Will the Ravens be willing to pay Wallace more than the $3 million per year that their current top receiver, Steve Smith Sr., is due to make in 2016?" asked Zrebiec. "Will Wallace be willing to accept a deal in that range after being due $11.5 million from the Vikings before he was released? Those are questions that might be answered as early as Monday.
"It's worth mentioning that when the Ravens get a free agent in the building whom they covet, they usually close the deal. We'll see Monday how much they covet Wallace."
Steelers' Martavis Bryant Facing Year-Long Suspension
Pittsburgh's speedy wide receiver Martavis Bryant is facing a year-long suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, according to multiple reports.
The Steelers will appeal the suspension, but the CBA spells out the consequences very clearly. His appeal was unsuccessful when Bryant was banned for the first four games of 2015, reportedly after multiple failed marijuana tests.
"His absence will be a major blow to the Steelers' Super Bowl hopes for the coming year," wrote CSNMidatlantic.com's Keely Diven. "It could shake up the AFC North picture for the Ravens, who will face their rivals twice this coming season."
Or it could shake up negotiations with Wallace.
Good Signs With Upshaw
The free-agent market has been open for about five days, and there hasn't been any reported interest from other teams for outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw. That is good news for the Ravens.
"The Ravens want Upshaw back," wrote CSNMidatlantic.com's Clifton Brown. "Free agency is fluid, but apparently nobody made Upshaw an early offer he couldn't refuse. Upshaw does the dirty work at outside linebacker, setting the edge and playing tough run defense. If the Ravens re-sign him, it's a plus for the defense."
Keep An Eye On Kaepernick Trade
Suddenly Ravens fans should pay close attention to what happens with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick based on the tweet below.
If the Browns wind up trading for Kaepernick, it makes the chances of Cleveland using the No. 2 overall pick on a quarterback much less likely. The Ravens want as many quarterbacks as possible to be drafted in the top 5 so that more defensive talented slides down to them.
"Assuming the Dallas Cowboys don't take a quarterback at No. 4 overall — and their owner and general manager, Jerry Jones, insists they won't — that would leave the 49ers (No. 7) as the only team in the top 10 with a potential need at quarterback," wrote Zrebiec.
"There would be little incentive for the 49ers and St. Louis Rams (No. 15) to trade up in the first round if they can stay where they are and have a shot at one of the draft's top two quarterbacks: California's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz."
- "Moving Darren Waller from wide receiver to tight end makes sense on a number of levels," wrote Zrebiec. "I do recognize that the Ravens have eight other tight ends on the roster, so it won't be easy for Waller to make the team at that spot either. But let's face it: Nick Boyle is suspended for the first 10 games; Dennis Pitta's NFL career could very well be over; Crockett Gillmore's early-season availability is far from a sure thing; and Chase Ford, Harold Spears and Konrad Reuland likely will enter training camp as long shots to make the team. So there's probably a little easier road at tight end for Waller." [The Baltimore Sun]
- "The Ravens aren't sorry to see the Bengals lose wide receiver Marvin Jones," wrote Brown. "In two games against the Ravens last season, Jones had 10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. A. J. Green is the wide receiver who really kills the Ravens, but Jones does his share of damage. He's a nice pickup for the Lions after Calvin Johnson's retirement. And with Jones and Mohamed Sanu (Falcons) both leaving the Bengals, maybe the Ravens' secondary will have a little more success dealing with Green." [CSNMidatlantic.com]