Browns Shrewd With C Alex Mack, Blocking Ravens
We don't know if the Ravens want to pursue Browns center Alex Mack.
But if they did, the Browns made a "shrewd" move that potentially blocks the Ravens from doing so.
Many expected Mack to hit the free agent market next week, and Baltimore was a natural rumored landing spot given its desire to bulk up the interior offensive line and growing pains with second-year Gino Gradkowski.
But the Browns surprised many by designating the transition tag on Mack, meaning Cleveland can match any potential offer from another team. If Mack doesn't reach a deal with another team, he could simply sign Cleveland's one-year, $10 million tag.
The transition tag differs from the franchise tag in that opposing teams can't even make an offer to franchise players. Instead, franchise players have to play under the assigned tag money or agree to a long-term deal with their current club
"Alex Mack should sprint to the pen and paper and sign his transition tender. A center making $10 million? Oy," tweeted ProFootballTalk.
"Can't blame Browns for putting transition tag on C Alex Mack," added CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown. "Now if Ravens come after Mack, Browns can match offer."
But with the transition tag looming, the Ravens making a move now for the center is unlikely.
There were opposing opinions on whether the Ravens would have done so even before the tag.
The Baltimore Sun's Zrebiec didn't think the Ravens would've ponied up the cash it likely would've taken to land Mack on the open market, but ESPN's Jamison Hensley thought they would have at least pursued him.
With the tag in place now, they both think it's time to scratch Mack off the Ravens' wish list.
"Had my doubts that Ravens would have been willing to spend what it would take on C Alex Mack if he was a FA," Zrebiec wrote.
"Now, that's essentially moot [point]."
No Ravens Contract Talks With Oher
The franchise tag deadline came and went yesterday at 4 p.m., and the Ravens opted not to assign tackle Eugene Monroe with the $11.654-million franchise tag.
Twitter erupted with incredulous posts that the two sides will come to a long-term agreement before free agency doors burst open on March 11.
"Hard to see Ravens paying Eugene Monroe what several other teams will offer. No tag may mean bye-bye to LT," wrote NFL Media's Aditi Kinkhabwala.
"Not franchise tagging Eugene Monroe is understandable," added Zrebiec. "It would have come] at a cost of $11.65 million, a lot for team w/several holes. It, however, does put a lot of [pressure on negotiator Pat Moriarty to come up with a deal w/Monroe over next 7 days. #Ravens already have a host of needs, and adding a left tackle to that mix would be a tough development for them."
It's possible that the 26-year-old Monroe could become this offseason's highest-paid free agent, says NFL.com, so he might be motivated to at least dip his toe in the free agent market.
But don't count the Ravens out just yet.
Even though it was reported that the two sides are "far apart," they still have six more days to bridge the gap. And the Ravens are so focused on bringing back Monroe that they reportedly haven't even started chats with the tackle they drafted in the first round five years ago.
"Ravens have not entered into contract talks with Michael Oher, according to a source," tweeted The Sun's Aaron Wilson.
"Not expected to. Still concentrating on Monroe."
If you're questioning the Ravens' decision not to tag Monroe – considering their big need at tackle – don't, says Hensley.
Hensley doesn't believe Monroe is worth $11 million, nearly half of the Ravens' salary cap space, and says that kind of money is for players like Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden.
What is Monroe worth?
"When looking at the average salaries for tackles, a deal that averages between $8 million and $9 million per season seems fair," Hensley wrote. "That's the going rate for Duane Brown, Jake Long and Russell Okung. It would put Monroe in the top 10 for highest paid left tackles. There is a chance that another team is going to pay more. But it wouldn't be the Ravens making that mistake."
A Good Day For Ex-Ravens
About a year ago, wide receiver Anquan Boldin said he would retire if he was cut by the Ravens.
On Monday, he signed a deal that will keep him a total of three years in San Francisco.
A lot has changed.
After the Ravens traded Boldin to the 49ers last March for a sixth-round draft pick, he signed a two-year deal yesterday with San Fran for a reported $12 million and $9 million guaranteed.
He was ecstatic to share his news.
"@49ers fans, I wanted to be the first to tell you I'm returning to San Francisco," Boldin tweeted.
With the new deal, Boldin could be running routes as a 35-year-old veteran for the 49ers. At 33, he started all 16 games last season, catching 85 passes for 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns. Ravens brass acknowledged that they were never able to replace Boldin's production in the offense, especially with the hip injury to Dennis Pitta.
Boldin was a week away from hitting the open market, and many Ravens fans had hoped Baltimore would make another run at him.
"Because of Boldin's desire to stay in San Francisco, a reunion with the Ravens this offseason was never viewed as a realistic scenario," wrote Zrebiec.
Boldin wasn't the only ex-Raven with good news to announce Monday.
Safety Bernard Pollard declared that he too signed a new multi-year deal with his current club, the Tennessee Titans.
"Thank God!!!" Pollard proclaimed on Twitter. "I'll be a Titan for the next couple years!!! TitanUp"
After being released by the Ravens last season, the hard-hitting safety finished 2013 with 99 tackles and three interceptions.
With a new coaching staff taking over, Pollard said he wasn't sure if he would be back. But the organization seemed to like what they saw.
"We were pleased with the job Bernard did for us in his first season with us last year," Titans General Manager Ruston Webster said in a statement. "Getting this deal done today helps our overall plan for this offseason. We still have work ahead of us trying to retain some of our other players, but we are glad to be able to get this one done."
Mayock's New Top 5's
After draft guru Mike Mayock got a good look at the draft prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine last week, the NFL.com expert released his new Top 5s at each position.
You can see the full list here, but below are the rankings for three positions of need in Baltimore: wide receiver, tackle and safety.
1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M (rose three spots)
3. Marqise Lee, USC
4. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
t5. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State (fell two spots)
t5. Jarvis Landry, LSU
t5. Odell Beckham, LSU
1. Greg Robinson, Auburn (rose two spots)
2. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (fell one spot)
3. Taylor Lewan, Michigan
4. Zack Martin, Notre Dame
5. Joel Bitonio, Nevada
1. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
2. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
3. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois (rose four spots)
4. Deone Bucannon, Washington State
5. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State (fell three spots)
- @BaltimoreLuke: The #Bills announce they're not using the tag, meaning safety Jairus Byrd could hit the market if the #Ravens want to try to pay up. [Twitter]
@TorreySmithWR: This boot camp has been amazing so far....I've learned a lot already [Instagram] * @MikePrestonSun: Really interested to see how OC Gary Kubiak can modify short passing offense (West Coast) for long ball thrower like Joe Flacco. [Twitter] * @ryanmink: Kings of restructures. #DifferentPhilosophy RT @RapSheet: The #Steelers have restructured TE Heath Miller's deal to create cap space. [Twitter] * The league is considering experimenting with extra points during preseason games by moving line back to the 25-yard line, instead of the 2-yard line. That would make an extra point the equivalent of a 43-yard field goal, instead of a 20-yard field goal. [NFL.com] * The New England Patriots opted not to franchise tag wide receiver Julian Edelman, who was a realistic option considering his strong 2013 season. [ProFootballTalk.com] * This is pretty cool. Mid-Atlantic Aerial Videography and Photography put together this video of Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards at Oriole Park. [YouTube]