Teams Wanted Tucker, But Ravens Fend Them Off
Just beating Friday's deadline for restricted free agents to sign their offers sheets, the Ravens announced Thursday that kicker Justin Tucker signed his $2.356 million second-round tender.
Considering Tucker is the most accurate kicker in NFL history and was the second-fastest kicker to reach the 400-point milestone, I'd say that constitutes as good news. I'd also say that, given his track record, it's not surprising to hear other NFL teams would have liked to see him kicking in their uniforms.
The Ravens seemed to anticipate that possibility, which is why they placed such a high tender on their guy.
"NFL teams expressed interest in Tucker, but ultimately didn't put in an offer sheet prior to Friday's league deadline due to the draft pick compensation involved," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
Had another team offered a contract that the Ravens wouldn't match, it would have been required to also pass along a highly-coveted second-round draft pick to Baltimore.
Putting such a* *steep price on Tucker ultimately fended off competing offers.
So, the Ravens won the first battle in keeping their kicker for 2015, but the next priority is to keep him around long-term.
The goal is to lock him up before he even plays out the final year of his rookie contract, a.k.a. the tender sheet he just signed. Owner Steve Bisciotti named three Ravens he wanted to extend before the season: Tucker, Jimmy Smith and Marshal Yanda. One of the three can be crossed of the list as the Ravens announced a four-year extension with Smith Tuesday.
Could Tucker be next?
"Given his age, accuracy and leg strength, Tucker figures to be paid at or near the top of the market when it comes time to sign a new deal in 2016, assuming he remains in good form," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Wilkening.
Below are some of the highest-paid kickers in the league, per Wilson:
Dallas' Dan Bailey: four years, $22.505 million, $7.5 million guaranteed
Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski: five years, $18.9 million, $8 million guaranteed
Chicago's Robbie Gould: five years, $17.39 million, $8.85 million guaranteed
Jacksonville's Josh Scobee: four years, $13.8 million, $4.75 million guaranteed
New England's Stephen Gostkowski: five years, $15.425 million, $5.1 million guaranteed
In other restricted free-agent news …
Thought Ravens Were Bluffing About WR? Jennings Signing Proves You Wrong.The Ravens didn't rush to the veteran wide receiver free-agent market after cutting Jacoby Jones and losing Torrey Smith to free agency.
Instead, they've been emphasizing how good quarterback Joe Flacco is at developing young wide receivers. And when John Harbaugh was asked a few weeks ago about whom he's excited to see potentially breakout in 2015 (like Rick Wagner last season), the head coach named young receivers Michael Campanaro and Kamar Aiken, among others.
"Count me among those who wasn't buying the talk from team officials about not needing a veteran wide receiver to replace Torrey Smith," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
"I was wrong."
Zrebiec came to the realization that the Ravens haven't been bluffing when news hit that free-agent wide receiver Greg Jennings reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins this week. Jennings may have been the last veteran wideout on the market that could have made a significant impact as a Raven.
If they really wanted Jennings, the Ravens could have signed him. The same could be said for all the others, including Michael Crabtree, Andre Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, etc. Now, the remaining top receivers available include Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne, Mike Williams and Lance Moore.
"The Ravens apparently feel [they don't need a veteran] because there's really nobody left on the market now who would make much sense," Zrebiec wrote. "The Ravens had some interest in Jennings, but like with the rest of the free-agent wide receiver class, their interest appeared to be tepid at best.
"If it wasn't clear a couple of weeks ago, it certainly is now. If the Ravens are going to make a meaningful wide receiver addition, it will be in the draft."
Patriots' Visiting White House = Not Funny. President Cracking Pats Jokes = Funny.
Baltimore fans don't want to see any *team other than the Ravens enjoy a Super Bowl trip to the White House, let alone the Patriots, who knocked their team out in* **the divisional playoff round.
But at least President Barack Obama made it a little more fun by cracking a few Pats jokes, just as he does with all Super Bowl winners that come to his home in the nation's capital. Similar cracks were made when the Ravens visited in 2013.
The most-talked about joke is the one that can be seen in the whitehouse.gov video below, and plays off the infamous DeflateGate investigation.
"I usually tell a bunch of jokes at these events, but with the Patriots in town I was worried that 11 out of 12 of them would fall flat," Obama said.
The joke actually did fall flat in front of the Patriots. It was met with several moans from the audience and Head Coach Bill Belichick gave the President a big thumbs down.
Bernard Pierce Speaks Out From Jacksonville
For the first time since his release from the Ravens following an arrest for driving under the influence, running back Bernard Pierce spoke out publicly Wednesday.
Now with the Jaguars, Pierce spoke about the incident with Jacksonville media and said he is working to rebuild his reputation.
"My outlook is that nobody remembers the good things you do, but they always try to scrutinize and criticize the bad things," Pierce told reporters, per The Florida Times-Union. "I made one mistake in my whole career, my whole life, and now I'm trying to build myself up."
During the arrest back in March, Pierce apparently asked the officer if the case could be kept off the books, and he even accurately predicted that the Ravens would cut him* *when they got word of the arrest.
Pierce saw the writing on the wall because Ravens players had been warned there would be a shorter leash after several arrests over* *the last two offseasons. Piece was the eighth player to be arrested in a 13-month span.
The team announced the termination of his contract the following morning.
"With as many offseason issues as they have and with the zero-tolerance policy, I knew that could be it for me," Pierce said. "But I didn't think there would be a phone call and that would be it."
While that is Pierce's perspective, the Ravens have tried to make it clear that they have not adopted a zero-tolerance policy. Instead, they've said they look at each individual incident and try to make appropriate decisions.
Pierce was asked to describe himself and he said he is a "good dude, good father." He characterized the St. Patrick's Day night out as a one-time mistake.
"Bad timing, I guess," Pierce said. "Me and a couple of guys went out."
Andrea Kremer Tries Not To Bust Out Laughing At Harbaughs' Khakis Talk
Jim and John Harbaugh have some very thought-out arguments for and against khaki pants. It's a topic that, for a reason I honestly cannot explain, has taken the nation by storm.
HBO Real Sports' Andrea Kremer was literally fighting back the laughter as Jim was seemingly dead serious in his explanation of why he wears khakis just about every day.
"If I wear them every day, then you don't have to spend time thinking about what to wear," Jim said. "It saves probably five, 10, at least five minutes, but sometimes 10 or 15 if you're just otherwise standing in front of your closet trying to figure out what the right or appropriate outfit is to wear."
It's at this point that Jim notices Kremer taking a deep breath and biting her lip before she busts out in hysterical laughter.
John gives his own reaction below …