Late for Work 3/20: Ed Reed Weighs in on Earl Thomas Addition

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Ed Reed Weighs in on Earl Thomas, Lamar Jackson

Almost immediately after the Ravens landed coveted free agent safety Earl Thomas, comparisons were made between Thomas and Ravens Hall of Famer Ed Reed.

Reed told Sports Illustrated that Thomas just needs to be himself.

“I think Earl brings what Earl brings to the table,” Reed said. “It’s not about being Ed or being like Ed. It’s just a matter of him doing what he does best.”

Reed noted that Thomas reached out to him both before and after the former Seattle Seahawk signed with the Ravens.

“He reached out to me before he signed with the Ravens to do some film studying and working out stuff in the offseason,” Reed said. “And then once he signed, he hit me up even more so to ask me if there’s anything he can help with my foundation to just call him. And that’s the type of guy that Earl is; that’s the type of guy that Baltimore’s going to get.”

Reed added that he will continue to make himself available to Thomas.

“I’m open to whatever Earl needs, whatever he wants to talk about when it comes to [the Ravens’] scheme, that system,” Reed said. “I obviously know it.”

Reed tackled a different subject in an interview with Sporting News: how to defend Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

“Here comes a whole lot of pressure,” Reed said. “[He is] getting a boatload of pressure from everywhere. Left, right, up the middle, safety, corner, linebackers. Might even [send] the guy who brings the Gatorade out.”

Tony Jefferson: You Have to Strip the Title From Us

The Cleveland Browns are the favorites to win the AFC North in 2019, but Ravens safety Tony Jefferson said the defending division champion Ravens aren’t ready to concede the crown just yet.

“We’re still defending the title. So until then it’s just he say, she say, it’s Madden,” Jefferson said on NFL Network yesterday. “Until then you got to come strip the title from us. That’s just what it is. I feel like everybody does this every year, not specifically Cleveland or AFC North.”

Before members of the Dawg Pound start frothing at the mouth over Jefferson’s comments, Jefferson made it clear he was not being dismissive of the moves the Browns have made this offseason, most notably a blockbuster trade for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

"I think it's great,” he said. “I love what they did, I love that they brought a lot more talent to the division. Obviously, Odell coming to the Browns is humongous. What he brings to the game is rare. Plus, with all the complements around him that he has, with Baker [Mayfield]. That brings a lot of challenges for opposing defenses, and then a defense has to play them twice a year, that brings that challenge as well."

Jefferson, however, said he and his teammates welcome the challenge.

“You can sleep if you want, but we’re going to be out there playing ball, and let the cards come out how they do,” he said. “We work a little harder, lift a little harder, run a little harder out there. So I’m excited.”

Jimmy Smith Staying in Baltimore?

This just in: Jimmy Smith is still a Raven.

And it could very well stay that way.

There’s been much speculation that the Ravens could cut or trade the cornerback to create cap space, but The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec said it won’t be a surprise if the team’s 2011 first-round draft pick remains in Baltimore.

“Each day brings more speculation that the Ravens could cut or trade Smith and create $9.5 million of cap savings,” Zrebiec wrote. “The Ravens certainly could use a little more cap flexibility and cornerback is probably their deepest position on the roster. But the Ravens’ stance on Smith hasn’t changed to this point. They want to keep him.

“They don’t view his salary as being totally out of whack with his ability and worth if he stays healthy. The dead money to release or trade Smith is $6.7 million, which makes retaining Smith even more plausible. And the Ravens have too much experience in watching seasons go up in ruins because of injuries at cornerback to just let a quality cover guy just walk out the door for nothing.”

What Are Ravens Doing at Wide Receiver?

The Ravens addressed needs on defense and at running back with the signing of Thomas and Mark Ingram, respectively, but the question remains as to what they are doing at wide receiver.

It wasn’t a particularly strong wide receiver free agent class this year, and the pool got even thinner when one of the top remaining free agents, former Green Bay Packer Randall Cobb, agreed to sign with the Dallas Cowboys yesterday.

“[The Ravens will] obviously draft one or two pass catchers, as they should,” Zrebiec wrote, “but it would still be surprising if they didn’t add another veteran as an option on the outside to pair with Willie Snead IV on the inside. But who?”

As Zrebiec noted, the top wide receivers left on the market are Jordy Nelson, Chris Hogan, Dontrelle Inman, Rishard Matthews and Pierre Garcon.

“None really project as a great fit,” Zrebiec wrote. “At this point, the Ravens might be better off waiting until after the draft or closer to training camp to see if any better options become available.”

More Praise for Thomas, Ingram Deals

The Ravens’ deals with Thomas and Ingram both made NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal’s list of NFL free agency’s best contracts from a team perspective.

“$32 million fully guaranteed is not too much when a defensive scheme and a future Hall of Famer’s skill set complement each other this beautifully,” Rosenthal wrote. “So many of the best free-agent signings in NFL history weren’t about value contracts, but simply being right about an elite player fitting into a new situation. Thomas in Baltimore fits like a glove.”

Of the Ingram deal, Rosenthal wrote: “The Ravens’ signing of Ingram is a perfect match of team identity and skill set, providing some stability to a backfield that has included too many questions in recent years. It was curious to see the Saints pay Latavius Murray nearly as much total cash [four years, $14.4 million] as Ingram got a day later [three years, $15 million], because Ingram is far superior.”

The Ravens did not make NFL.com’s Adam Schein’s “Love/Like/Loathe” list of offseason moves, but AFC North rivals Cleveland and the Pittsburgh Steelers did.

Schein wrote that acquiring Beckham “for a first-rounder, third-rounder and a solid [not game-changing] safety ... is highway robbery.”

The Steelers are on the opposite end of the spectrum for Schein.

“Losing Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in the same offseason should be considered among the biggest talent drains in league history,” Schein wrote. “At the NFL Scouting Combine, [Steelers General Manager] Kevin Colbert reiterated that the Steelers would never sell low on Brown. Just a couple weeks later, Colbert did just that. A third-round pick and a fifth-rounder for a bona fide superstar? Unacceptable.”

With Ingram, It’s All in the Details

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer noted that the Ravens’ deal with Ingram is a prime example of General Manager Eric DeCosta’s attempt to fix the team’s problem of dead money. In a tweet from Breer yesterday, he outlined the details of Ingram’s deal.

Wait, did someone say “details” in regard to Ingram?

Gold Jacket for Haloti Ngata?

Is former Raven Haloti Ngata a Pro Football Hall of Famer? Breer thinks the defensive tackle -- who retired earlier this week after 13 seasons, the first nine of which were with the Ravens -- should get “serious consideration.”

“[Ngata] helped anchor a generation of great defenses in Baltimore, along with Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, 2019 inductee Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs, another potential HOFer,” Breer wrote. “If all four get in, by the way, that would be more than the ’86 Bears defense had inducted [Dan Hampton, Richard Dent and Mike Singletary are the three from that group], which says a lot about the job Ozzie Newsome did building those teams.”

Mock Draft Has D.K. Metcalf Going to Ravens

Popular opinion is that Mississippi wide receiver D.K. Metcalf’s attention-grabbing performance and measurements at the NFL Scouting Combine ascended him out of the draft range of the Ravens, who have the No. 22 pick, but NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks has Metcalf coming to Baltimore in his latest mock draft.

Brooks also had Metcalf going to the Ravens in his previous mock draft, but a number of draft analysts, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper, believe Metcalf could be a top-10 pick.

Meanwhile, in the latest mock draft of Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr, he has the Ravens selecting Alabama running back Josh Jacobs despite the team’s recent signing of Ingram.

“It’s hard not to love the idea of Baltimore loading up at the position and hammering teams with a consistent running game,” Orr wrote. “A three-headed monster of Jacobs, Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards would wear down defenses Naval Academy style. Here’s a ratio John Harbaugh will love especially: one fumble and 38 broken tackles per 100 touches. Inside the tackles, 6.9 yards per carry.”

Orr had Metcalf going to the Carolina Panthers at No. 16.

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