Late For Work 3/18: Brandon Weeden Talks Mean Ravens Exploring Backup QBs?

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Brandon Weeden Talks Mean Ravens Exploring Backup QBs?

Former Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys Monday.

But first he spoke with the Ravens, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

It's unknown what took place in any conversations between Weeden and the Ravens, but it piqued the interest of outsiders.

"It's interesting that the Ravens, along with the Cincinnati Bengals, both showed interest in Weeden this week," The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson wrote. "Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor is under contract through next season under his original $2.155 million contract."

Does this mean the Ravens are in the market for backup quarterbacks?

Taylor has been quarterback Joe Flacco's backup since 2011 when he was drafted in the sixth round out of Virginia Tech. The two have very different styles, however. Flacco is a traditional pocket passer while Taylor is a speedy, athletic quarterback who can scramble out of the pocket. He has been used to help the Ravens defense prep for read-option offenses, and was also used in a wildcat package last season.

Like Flacco, Weeden, 30, is more of a classic pocket passer.

The Ravens typically bring in a third quarterback during the offseason so he can learn the offense early and provide another arm for minicamps and training camp. They rarely hold onto three quarterbacks during the season. The last time that happened was in 2009 with Flacco, Troy Smith and John Beck.

Weeden, however, would have been more accomplished than recent third-stringers. With 23 starts under his belt the last two seasons, he could have provided more than just depth. Caleb Hanie, Curtis Painter and John Beck – recent depth quarterbacks – had little starting experience.

At a reported $1.2 million, however, Weeden now becomes the cost-effective insurance policy for Tony Romo, as Kyle Orton's future in Dallas is cloudy.

Time will tell if the Ravens continue to look at more experienced quarterbacks.

Ryan Clark Using Ravens As Leverage?

Steelers free agent safety Ryan Clark visited the Washington Redskins last week, but left without a contract.

On his way out, he mentioned to reporters that other teams are interested in his services, including the Ravens.

"We're just dealing right now," Clark said, via Tom Pelissero of USA Today. "We've got some interest from the Ravens, the Jets. We're actually in negotiations with Washington as we speak. So, we'll see how it goes."

The question is whether the Clark-Ravens connection is solid, or if Clark is using it to get the Redskins to pony up.

"Maybe Clark is using the Ravens and Jets for leverage in his dealings with the Redskins," wrote CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown. "However, things can change quickly during free agency. If Clark does not sign with the Redskins, perhaps the Ravens will be his Plan B."

The interest is mutual, says The Sun's Aaron Wilson.

Clark, 34, could return to Washington after starting 24 games there in 2004-05. He spent the last eight seasons with AFC North rival Pittsburgh. The Steelers recently signed free agent safety Mike Mitchell to a five-year deal, reportedly worth $25 million.

If negotiations break down with Washington, and the Ravens make a move, Clark could be the veteran safety roaming in coverage to complement second-year player Matt Elam.

Clark would bring an aggressive style to the secondary. He played in one Pro Bowl, and he may best be known in Baltimore for knocking running back Willis McGahee unconscious in the 2008 AFC championship.

"Both the Ravens and Jets could have use for help at safety, but it's hard to gauge their level of interest in Clark filling that need since there haven't been visits or advanced conversations at this point," ProFootballFocus.com's Josh Alper wrote. "The Redskins may be banking on that interest not being high enough to trump their offer for a safety who will turn 35 during the season."

Something Up Ozzie's Sleeve?

General Manager Ozzie Newsome made it clear after the Ravens' 8-8 season that one of his priorities would be finding a playmaking free safety.

A week into free agency, and Clark is the first hint of any Ravens movement on safeties. One-by-one, savvy veterans have been plucked from the market, and the Ravens have stood pat.

The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec wonders what is up.

"The Ravens' seeming lack of aggressiveness in trying to sign a free safety makes you wonder what general manager Ozzie Newsome has up his sleeve," he wrote.

The Ravens could use the draft to fill the roll with guys like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor, Jimmie Ward and Deone Bucannon projected to be available when Baltimore picks in the first and second rounds.  Free agent James Ihedigbo is still out there, but he isn't the playmaker that Newsome described. There's speculation about adding Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey and converting him to safety.

"Safety right now may be the hardest hole for the Ravens to fill with what's left on the free-agent market," Zrebiec wrote.

ESPN's Jamison Hensley says the best remaining free safety on the market is Miami's Chris Clemons.

Ravens Offer Contract To Ed Dickson

The Ravens have made a contract offer to tight end Ed Dickson, according to Wilson.

Dickson has not accepted the offer as he has drawn interest from other teams, including the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and the New York Giants, per the report.

It was assumed by many that the Ravens would only look to re-sign Dennis Pitta after last season. At the locker day clean out, even Dickson talked as if only Pitta would return. The Ravens did get Pitta locked up for five years, but apparently would like to keep both.

With Pitta out a majority of last season with a hip injury, Dickson, 26, started 14 games and caught 25 passes for 273 yards and one touchdown. He was selected in the third round (one round ahead of Pitta) in the 2010 draft.

TE Daniels Could Still Be A Good Fit

The tight end position is currently one of the thinnest positions on the roster in terms of experience, says Hensley.

On the first day of free agency, the Ravens were linked to veteran Owen Daniels, who was surprisingly cut by the Texans and obviously has ties to Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak. Daniels, if healthy after a broken fibula last season, could be paired with Dennis Pitta.

The Sun's Mike Preston believes Daniels could be a nice fit, but that there is no need to hurry and sign him.

"When healthy, Daniels is one of the best tight ends in the NFL, but a fractured fibula forced him to miss the final 11 games last season and he hasn't played a full 16 game season since 2008. But if he accepts a limited role, he might be the 'right player, right price' for Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome," Preston wrote.

If the Ravens are looking for more of a blocking tight end, Hensley recommends Carolina's Ben Hartsock, Seattle's Kellen Davis or the New York Giants' Bear Pascoe. 

Quick Hits

  • Defensive tackle Letroy Guion, one of the free agents the Ravens reportedly had interest in, signed with the Green Bay Packers on a one-year contract. [Packers.com]
  • @jamisonhensley: When you hear that the #Ravens have talked to all of these free agents, just remember it's sometimes the agent who is calling the team. [Twitter]
  • "Right now, the Ravens have their best receiving corps since the early days of the franchise when receivers like Michael Jackson, Derrick Alexander and Jermaine Lewis were around," wrote Preston. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • "Ravens reserve offensive lineman Jah Reid is scheduled for a March 27 court arraignment stemming from his arrest early March 9 following a fight at a strip club in Key West, Fla., according to Monroe County court records," wrote Wilson. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @RavensInsider: Ravens' one-year deal for : $795,000, including $35K bonus,$30K roster bonus, $730K salary, cap $635K on minimum salary benefit [Twitter]
  • The Ravens have about $8.8 million left under the salary cap after their six signings so far this offseason. [Russell Street Report]
  • The Ravens are now a shadow of their Super Bowl team with only nine starters remaining from that squad. [ESPN]
  • Bryant McKinnie is willing to play right tackle for the Dolphins or another team. [Sun Sentinel | WQAM]
  • Jim Harbaugh, brother of Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, got Twitter buzzing yesterday with his pushup challenge … to a walrus. [YouTube]
  • With Monday's minor earthquake in L.A. (and Terrell Davis terrified on tape), Ravens receiver Torrey Smith was reminded about the time we had an earthquake and BaltiomreRavens.com caught it on tape. [Twitter |YouTube]
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