Torrey Smith Cut By 49ers. Ravens Reunion Up Next?
Former Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. broke news (he's apparently pretty good at this reporter thing too) Monday afternoon that Torrey Smith will be released by the San Francisco 49ers.
And with that, every Ravens fan instantly asked the same question.
Is Torrey coming back to Baltimore?
"It likely depends on Mike Wallace's future in Baltimore," Hensley wrote.
"It doesn't make sense for the Ravens to add another downfield threat if they keep Wallace to go along with Breshad Perriman. But if Baltimore doesn't pick up Wallace's option this week, that could pave the way for QB Joe Flacco throwing the ball deep to Smith again."
Smith, a Ravens second-round pick out of Maryland in 2011, grew into a fan and Joe Flacco favorite. He averaged 54 receptions for 898 yards and eight touchdowns over his four seasons in Baltimore. In 2013, he put up 1,128 receiving yards. In 2014, he caught 11 touchdowns.
But free agency's cruelty split the Ravens and Smith after the 2014 season, as he signed a five-year, reported $40 million contract with the 49ers.
Things haven't worked out for Smith on the West Coast. Over the past two years, he's posted just 53 catches for 930 yards and seven scores. Last season, he went on IR (concussion) after 12 games with 20 catches for 267 yards and three touchdowns.
Now Smith is a free agent, free to choose where he'll play next. Smith said goodbye to San Francisco on Instagram and tweeted this:
Don't be surprised when I'm back on track next year....... — Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) March 6, 2017
Back on track … like back on Baltimore's track?
Even after Smith left, he said he would always be a Raven at heart. He still comes back to his home turf for charity events (his annual basketball game is in two weeks), and eventually sees himself settling down for the long-term in or around Baltimore, as he told Glenn Clark Radio Monday before being cut.
So why not come home now? As it did in 2014, it could come down to money.
If the Ravens were to add Smith, they likely would have to part ways with Wallace, who had a resurgent 1,000-yard season last year. However, Wallace has a $5.75 million salary next year and counts $8 million against the salary cap. If Smith were cheaper, that would free up money to address other needs.
Last week at the combine, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he anticipated Wallace being with the Ravens next season, but that was before Smith hit the market.
Even if the Ravens are interested, as pundits expect, they may not be the only team.
According to Pro Football Talk, the Philadelphia Eagles were linked to Smith prior to last year's trade deadline, but a deal didn't materialize. Philadelphia is still looking for a receiver, and has two men involved in drafting Smith, former Ravens scouts Joe Douglas and Andy Weidl, in its front office.
"I have no idea whether Smith would give the Ravens a hometown discount," Zrebiec wrote. "However, after the quarterback issues he experienced with the San Francisco 49ers, you can imagine the thought of reuniting with Joe Flacco has some appeal. Smith and Flacco have a very good relationship."
The next couple (or few) days should be very interesting for Smith as he looks for a new (or old) home. His Monday couldn't have been any more hectic.
He started yesterday by defending quarterback Joe Flacco on Glenn Clark Radio, then was released, then appeared at the Maryland State House and Senate Monday night to promote his basketball game.
The Latest On Ravens Free Agents
The clock is ticking for the Ravens to reach agreements with their own free agents, including defensive tackle Brandon Williams, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, right tackle Rick Wagner and wide receiver Kamar Aiken.
"It doesn't guarantee it by any means. The Ravens re-signed offensive tackle Eugene Monroe a couple years back after he hit the market. Traditionally, though, players hit the market in search for more money elsewhere."
Here's the latest on each, with a little more commentary from Zrebiec:
DT Brandon Williams
Zrebiec: "[The Ravens] understand what a big loss he'd be if he leaves. However, they're not in a position to play 'Name your price.' Williams is a stud -- one of the best in the league at his position. I'm not going to diminish his role, but when you're relatively tight against the salary cap, it's tough to commit $10 million or more per year to a run stuffer in a passing league. Williams played just 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps last season."
FB Kyle Juszczyk
Zrebiec: "The two sides were significantly apart as of the weekend. Top fullback money is a little north of $2 million per year. However, Juszczyk's agent will surely ask for far more than that given Juszczyk's many roles. We'll know soon if the Ravens view Juszczyk as a luxury more than a necessity."
RT Rick Wagner
Zrebiec: "As of Sunday, I heard that the two sides had made no recent progress, and barring a significant development, Wagner was headed to free agency. With the number of teams looking for quality tackles and the expectation that Wagner gets top right tackle money, the Ravens may need to turn to Plan B at that position."
WR Kamar Aiken
Is This Week A Franchise Turning Point?
The same has been said for at least the last week, but now it's really going to happen.
The Ravens are going to start taking action.
The window for teams to begin negotiating free-agent contracts opens today at 12 p.m., and reports will start flying about players agreeing to deals with various teams (though they can't put pen to paper until Thursday at 4 p.m.).
The Ravens have been quiet so far, which has left some area reporters wondering what's up.
Zrebiec previewed the busy 48 hours ahead for the Ravens, and it's going to be critically important.
"The silence from the Ravens has been almost eerie in recent weeks," wrote WNST's Luke Jones. "That's not to say that general manager Ozzie Newsome and the front office haven't been hard at work behind the scenes, but the Ravens are playing their hand even closer to the vest than normal, which is saying something for a franchise that makes it a point to rarely pull back the curtain.
"Even the most logical of salary cap-related cuts have yet to be executed a few days before the start of the new league year, leaving outsiders to continue to speculate and wonder about the future of a franchise at a crossroads."
The Ravens are itching to get back in the playoffs after missing it the past two seasons and three of the last four. They don't have much salary-cap space at the moment, but drastic changes could come via cuts, which would open up more possibilities for signings.
"Even without knowing how this offseason will play out, one can easily envision this week being a turning point for the franchise," Jones wrote.
"Some savvy additions and a strong draft could not only have the Ravens back in the playoffs in 2017, but such a haul could put them back on the road to being a Super Bowl contender sooner rather than later. A mediocre offseason, however, could all but seal the fate of figures who've been a key part of past glories."
Hensley wrote that the Ravens have been in the middle of the pack in free agency over the past three years. They have had 30 signings (15th in the NFL) for a combined $165,355,000 (17th in the NFL). And how effective have those signings been?
"The Ravens' overall record and track record in free agency mirror each other over the past three seasons," Hensley wrote. "Baltimore has had an equal amount of hits and misses when adding new players, which is a big reason why the Ravens have won no division titles and reached the playoffs once since the start of the 2014 season."
Baltimore did pretty darn well last year with the signing of safety Eric Weddle and Wallace. Tight end Benjamin Watson could have been an impact signing as well had he not torn his Achilles. Let's hope the Ravens can keep up their recent run of success.
Start Preparing For Myles Garrett Now
Good thing the Ravens drafted Ronnie Stanley in the first round last year, because it sure looks like Baltimore is going to need a premier left tackle to protect Joe Flacco's blindside when playing the Cleveland Browns twice a year.
Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett crushed the NFL Scouting Combine, and reports out of Cleveland suggest that it's a no-brainer that the Browns will take him with the top pick.
"Myles Garrett is making the Browns' decision easy with his stunning workout at the NFL Combine Sunday," wrote Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot.
"Sources said the Browns were blown away by Garrett's Combine, both the interview and his off-the-charts workout, and that they're close to making him their No. 1 overall pick."
For perspective on just how impressive Garrett's combine workout was, especially considering his size and position, check this out: