Ravens Getting High Praise For Free-Agent Moves
Coming off their first losing season in eight years, Ravens front-office executives aren't messing around.
From uncharacteristic contract restructures, to signing unrestricted free agents, to talking for hours on the phone with free-agent target Eric Weddle, to literally not allowing Mike Wallace to* *leave the building without signing a contract, the Ravens have been aggressive and persuasive in luring talent to Baltimore for what they hope will be an emphatic rebound from a 5-11 season.
"[This is] another example of why the Ravens are one of the best run [organizations]," said former NFL front-office executive Joe Banner in the video below. "They're sitting there with a couple of hauls, they pick up a quality safety [Monday], they pick up a wide receiver that helps the way you want to scheme an offense today. They're coming off a tough season, but they had a lot of injuries.
"It's just one of the reasons why they're one of the best run organizations in the league. You can see evidence after evidence that confirms it."
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks gave the Ravens an A-plus grade for signing Weddle, calling it a "major coup." And ESPN's Jamison Hensley gave the team an overall B for all their free-agency moves so far.
"The Ravens landed the best free agent remaining on Monday in Weddle, added the best deep threat available in Wallace and signed a tight end coming off a career season in Watson," Hensley wrote.
"Sure, it stings that the Ravens couldn't keep Osemele. But it would've been a mistake to overpay Osemele because he isn't a proven left tackle. The Ravens would've received an 'A' if they found a left tackle and a pass rusher (Dwight Freeney is available). Still, these are significant steps to turn around a 5-11 team."
Weddle Turned Down More Money From Two Other Teams
It's not Weddle, Watson or like tight end Benjamin Watson were easy signings. All of them had offers to go elsewhere.
The New Orleans Saints wanted Watson back, but the Ravens were aggressive and convincing.
Wallace told Garrett yesterday that he absolutely didn't expect to sign with the Ravens when he first arrived. The speedy wide receiver said he had a flight scheduled for 2:30 p.m. for other free-agent visits. "But Coach Harbaugh wasn't trying to let me leave the building," he said.
Then there was Weddle, who turned down more money from two other teams to sign with the Ravens, according to Bleacher Reports' Jason Cole. One person that was key in convincing Weddle to choose Baltimore was Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta. DeCosta and Weddle spoke on the phone for 1.5 hours, discussing "issue after issue after issue."
"One of the other things that DeCosta did during that conversation is he said that he had turned down eight job opportunities throughout the NFL to stay with the Ravens," Cole reported. "What that told Weddle in this process is the Ravens were a first-class organization, one that was dedicated to doing football right, one that was dedicated to be competitive.
"And despite the fact that the Ravens struggled last season, Weddle felt comfortable going to the Ravens this offseason so that he could chase his dream of winning a Super Bowl championship."
Are Ravens Done Making Moves Until Draft?
As strong of a start as the Ravens have had to free agency, there are still holes to be filled on the roster.
Those three biggest needs, according to Zrebiec, are left tackle, pass rusher and cornerback. He said another inside linebacker would be nice too. Baltimore released Daryl Smith earlier this month while leaving the door open for a return.
Head Coach John Harbaugh suggested yesterday that the Ravens aren't finished.
"The basic structure of improving our football team has come together in one of the ways that we visualized," Harbaugh said. "There were different options, and I don't know that we're done yet, so we'll just kind of see how it plays out."
He didn't say when the next moves could come.
Zrebiec says the market for pass rusher and corner has been "thoroughly picked apart" and there's been little indication that the team is in the left tackle market.
If you ask Hensley, you shouldn't expect much more action until late April.
"Probably not much until the draft," Hensley wrote. "The Ravens have less than $7 million in cap space after signing three free agents. … The Ravens would like to upgrade from Wright at corner, add a young rusher to the mix of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil and find a replacement for disappointing left tackle Eugene Monroe. Baltimore can add lot of young talent with seven picks in the first four rounds of the draft."
Jarret Johnson Compares Weddle To Ed Reed
Retired outside linebacker Jarret Johnson knows the Ravens defense after playing on the unit for nine years and with future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.
Johnson also knows Weddle, as the two played defense together for three years in San Diego.
So, Glenn Clark Radio reached out to Johnson to get his take on how Weddle will fit into the defensive backfield, and he had nothing but high praise.
Wallace Criticized For Bashing Bridgewater (Sort Of)
Here's the Wallace quote that has been making the rounds around the web.
In Baltimore, it was intended and taken as a compliment to Joe Flacco. But those outside Baltimore couldn't help but take it as a slight toward his former quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
"I was taught as a young guy, you exit how you enter: with dignity and appreciation," said former NFL receiver Nate Burleson on the NFL Network. "When you get money from a team and you sign there, it's high fives and hugs. Do the same thing when you're leaving. … I just feel like guys have to be a little bit more gracious even when they're in circumstances that they don't like.
"I'm not taking a shot at Mike. I get it. We were watching and listening [to his press conference] and said, 'That's a real guy saying real things.' I just think you got to hold those in a little more, especially when it's still a fresh wound. You just left. You better believe it's getting back to the Minnesota Vikings."