Time For Ozzie To Work Magic On Offense
There's a vibe around town that General Manager Ozzie Newsome may be preparing to make an uncharacteristic big splash in free agency.
With a reported, and very healthy, $24.9 million in salary cap space after the Dennis Pitta signing (see details below), Newsome has the ammunition to rebuild an offense that ranked 29th in the league last season.
Newsome is known for putting together dominant defenses, two Super Bowl winners and drafting Hall of Famers, but now is the time for "The Wizard of Oz" to expand his illustrious legacy by working his magic on offense, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
"Newsome will certainly add to his reputation if he can fix one of the worst offenses in team history. He has the money to do it," Hensley wrote. "But can he find the right players to put around quarterback Joe Flacco?
"Those who follow the Ravens' offseason mantra 'In Ozzie We Trust' believe he can assemble the right supporting cast. Others may have their doubts, based on history. The one smudge on Newsome's impeccable track record has been his inability to put together a high-flying offense, outside of the four games in the 2012 Super Bowl run."
That's the Ravens' current streak of not having a top-10 offense, per Hensley. Think back to Vinny Testaverde and Bam Morris in 1997 – that's the last time Baltimore cracked the top 10.
With the addition of Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak and re-signing of Pitta, the Ravens have made positive strides in fixing the unit.
"But their work is far from over," Hensley wrote. "Every move that Newsome makes this offseason should be done with the intention of helping Flacco, whom the Ravens know can be a championship quarterback with the right players around him. They saw it 14 months ago."
Ravens brass said they want to get a move-the-chains pass catcher, bulk up the interior offensive line and add running back depth. They also want to lock up a couple of tackles (see Eugene Monroe update below).
To get the ball moving, Hensley names some options on the market that could help.
At center, there is Brian De La Puente (New Orleans), Ryan Wendell (New England) and Joe Hawley (Atlanta). You can cross Alex Mack (Cleveland) off the list after the Browns gave him the transition tag. At wide receiver, there is Eric Decker (Denver), Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants), Julian Edelman (New England) and Golden Tate (Seattle).
"If the Ravens want to have an aggressive offense, perhaps it's time to get more aggressive in adding players," Hensley wrote. "By next week, Newsome will start his plan of reconstructing the Ravens' offense. A year from now, everyone will know whether Newsome did enough to improve it."
Dennis Pitta Contract Details
The Pitta contract numbers are in. Let's take a look at the effect it has on the salary cap …
Of the $32 million Pitta will earn over the course of five years, only $3.2 million of it will count against the cap in 2014, according to the professional sports contracts website Spotrac.com.
Half of Pitta's contract – $16 million – is guaranteed, and he received an $11 million signing bonus. Pitta is expected at the Under Armour Performance Center today, and will address the media at 2:30 p.m. We will stream it live on BaltimoreRavens.com and the Ravens mobile app.
The table below offers the year-by-year contract breakdown, per Spotrac.
|YEAR||BASE||SIGNING BONUS||CAP HIT||DEAD MONEY|
Jameel McClain To Visit Bills
When the Ravens released linebacker Jameel McClain last week, they left the door open for a return.
But that won't happen before McClain dips his toe in free agent waters.
The seven-year veteran is scheduled to visit the Buffalo Bills today, and has a few more visits scheduled later, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. The visit to Buffalo is McClain's first since his release.
McClain, 28, was brought to the Ravens as a rookie free agent, and climbed his way into a starting role until he suffered a spinal cord contusion during the 2012 season. He started 10 games last year after rehabbing his injury and being activated from the reserve-physically unable to perform list.
He was voted by his teammates as the Ravens' Ed Block Courage award winner for his inspiring return from what was considered a career-ending injury.
Monroe May Need To Learn Market Value On Street
With free agency less than a week away, the Ravens and Monroe are "nowhere close" to agreeing to a long-term contract and it's "unlikely" a deal will be struck ahead of the March 11 deadline, according to The Carroll County Times' Matt Zenitz.
With teams like the Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panthers among those eyeing Monroe, he appears determined to test the market and see if he can get more than whatever the Ravens are offering.
The Ravens decided to pass on franchising the 26-year-old veteran for $11.654 million, which Hensley believes was a smart decision.
Former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick says it might not be all that bad to allow Monroe to learn what his true market value is on the street.
"We've seen this before. Remember when they let Ray Lewis go to the street? Sometimes that's the only way to [show an athlete what the market is](http://wnst.net/audio-vault/?listen= Brian Billick talks Ravens and NFL headlines with Drew)," Billick told WNST's Drew Forrester.
"Like all of us, you have kind of an inflated idea about what it is you think you can get when selling your house, your car, whatever, until you get it out to the market and you find out, 'No, this is what its really worth.' So that doesn't mean they won't get Eugene Monroe back. I think you see more and more teams allowing players to do that. Having said that, you obviously have to be ready should that player move on."
The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson says Monroe should be paid somewhere among the second tier of recent highest-compensated tackles:
Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles: $48.3 million total, $9.57 million annual average
Duane Brown, Houston Texans: $55.492 million total, $8.9 million annual average
Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos: $52.5 million total, $10.5 million annual average
Jake Long, St. Louis Rams: $34 million contract, $8.5 million annual average
William Beatty, New York Giants: $37.5 million total, $7.5 million annual average
Sam Baker, Atlanta Falcons: $41.1 million total, $6.85 million annual average
Jermon Bushrod, Chicago Bears: $35.96 million total, $7.1 million annual average
Anthony Davis, San Francisco 49ers: $37.3 million total, $6.5 million annual average
Ravens 'Jahnke Value Model' Number
The statistical analysis website Pro Football Focus came up with a formula to measure the value of players, which they call the Jahnke Value Model.
For a lengthy explanation of the formula, go here, but the gist of it is: "[W]e take how well a player played in the previous season and turn that into a dollar amount for how much that player should have made. We then compare that to how much of a cap hit that player had to determine which players were the most over or under paid in 2013."
Based on the Jahnke Value Model (JVM), here are 10 most over and undervalued Ravens in 2013:
- Elvis Dumervil
- Eugene Monroe
- Justin Tucker
- Daryl Smith
- Torrey Smith
- Pernell McPhee
- Josh Bynes
- Arthur Jones
- James Ihedigbo
- Marlon Brown
- Terrell Suggs
- Haloti Ngata
- Ray Rice
- Michael Oher
- Jacoby Jones
- Joe Flacco,
- Jameel McClain
- Vonta Leach
- Marshal Yanda
- Dennis Pitta
- Pete Prisco believes the Ravens should target Green Bay Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith in free agency. "They have to get somebody as an upgrade over Gino Gradkowski. Alex Mack is probably not possible now with his transition tag, so they move down the line," Prisco wrote. [CBSSports.com]
- Is Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate on Ravens' free agent radar? "Tate was a player the Ravens had interest in entering the 2010 draft, interviewing him at the combine that year," wrote Clifton Brown. "However, with their second-round pick (No. 57), the Ravens took defensive tackle Terrence Cody. Three picks later at No. 60, the Seahawks took Tate. The Ravens are not expected to re-sign Cody, after four inconsistent seasons with the Ravens. However, Tate's career is trending upward." [CSNBaltimore.com]
- @RavensInsider: Jairus Byrd, Bills still talking: No franchise tag was given to Byrd. [Twitter]
- @Ravens: Congratulations to #Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome on being inducted into the National High School HOF! [Twitter]
- @RapSheet: Bernard Pollard's deal with #Titans: 2 years worth up to $6.4M with $850K signing bonus. Includes $500K roster bonus, $200K workout bonuses [Twitter]
- Former Raven … @UTgehlken [San Diego Union-Tribune]: Chargers have released fullback Le'Ron McClain, per source. Move clears $2.5 million in cap space. [Twitter]
- @JasonLaCanfora: Eagles announce release of WR Jason Avant [Twitter]
- @JasonLaCanfora: Browns announce they have released WR Davone Bess [Twitter]
- @Ravens: We're launching Touchdown for Teachers, presented by M&T Bank, recognizing local teachers for outstanding service to schools & communities! [Twitter]