Late for Work 4/25: Two Deadlines Approaching for Breshad Perriman; AFC North Draft Predictions


Two Deadlines Quickly Approaching for Breshad Perriman Decisions

The Ravens must make two decisions regarding wide receiver Breshad Perriman in the near future – one seemingly clear cut, the other not so much.

The first comes in 10 days (May 5), when Baltimore must choose whether to exercise the 2015 first-round selection’s fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The second will come on the third day of training camp, when Perriman is due a $649,485 bonus, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Ravens didn’t exercise Perriman’s fifth-year option given he’s only started four games the past three seasons and played in just 21 games total.

He’s battled injuries (both knees, hamstring, concussion), low production and dropped passes along the way. In 27 games, Perriman has recorded 43 catches for 576 yards and three touchdowns.

“The Ravens presumably won’t pick up Perriman’s fifth-year option of $9.387 million, which would become guaranteed in 2019 if he gets injured,” ESPN wrote. “Even if Perriman had been productive, that option would have been a risk with his injury history.”

The Ravens have opted to exercise the fifth-year option twice before on cornerback Jimmy Smith and linebacker C.J. Mosley. Smith worked his way up to becoming the No. 1 corner by the time Baltimore made its decision. Mosley has been the anchor in the middle of the defense since he was drafted, starting all but two games in four years and going to three Pro Bowls. The Ravens declined the option on safety Matt Elam.

In terms of Perriman’s scheduled bonus (estimated to be due on July 21), the Ravens will have to make that decision without seeing much of the speedy wide receiver in training camp. Instead, they’ll have to rely on organized team activities and mini-camp to determine whether they think Perriman can turn his career around.

"He knows it's his opportunity to make or break being a part of the Ravens,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said earlier this offseason.

Perriman will face an uphill battle as the Ravens have signed three new veteran receivers in Michael Crabtree, John “Smokey” Brown and Willie Snead. Chris Moore moved ahead of Perriman on the depth chart last year and also offers special teams ability. Plus, Baltimore is expected to add one or two wide receivers through the draft.

“The Ravens could try to trade Perriman or ultimately release him, given his struggles and the team’s free-agent additions,” wrote ESPN.

“With the bonus, Perriman is due to make $1.622 million this season, which is the 14th-highest base salary on the team. Baltimore can create $1.6 million in cap space by cutting him after June 1.”

Draft Predictions for All AFC North Teams

It isn’t shocking that in ESPN’s draft predictions for all 32 teams the website predicted that Ravens would trade back in the first round.

The thought is Baltimore could still pick up either a wide receiver like D.J. Moore or a pass-catching tight end like Hayden Hurst in the early 20s while picking up an additional third-round pick to use on a quarterback. The suggestions were Richmond's Kyle Lauletta, Western Kentucky's Mike White and Washington State's Luke Falk.

But what about the other AFC North teams? What could they do this weekend?

Here are the predictions from the team beat writers:

Cincinnati Bengals: Invest picks in two surprise positions: cornerback and wide receiver
Katherine Terrell: “Neither position seems like a particular need with a glut of receivers on the roster and the starting cornerbacks potentially set with Darqueze Dennard, Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III. But don't be surprised if someone at those positions catches their eye earlier than believed, especially if they can double as a kick returner.”

Cleveland Browns: Will not trade down
Pat McManamon: “The significance of this is that the Browns moved down in the past two drafts, trading away selections that turned into Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. New general manager John Dorsey will not try to outthink the draft, and instead will stay where he is and take the best players he can find. Dorsey used one phrase when describing his draft process: Trust your eyes. In other words, judge what a player does and select him where he should be selected.”

Pittsburgh Steelers: Draft a Day 2 receiver for the second straight year
Jeremy Fowler: “The franchise must prepare for Martavis Bryant's potential departure in 2019, and it has struck gold with its ability to pluck talented pass-catchers outside of the first round. The team typically plays it safe on Day 1, which points to defensive help with the 28th overall selection. After that, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Steelers put some JuJu flavor on this year's draft.”

The Draft Value in the Second and Third Rounds Is Significant

We’ve been hearing that the depth of this year draft class is impressive, but one team put it into perspective like we haven’t seen before.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King asked a source from one undisclosed team (who will pick in the first half of the first round) how he views the depth of the first three rounds. Here’s what his source revealed:

  • His team has 15 players with first-round grades.
  • His team has 30 to 35 players with second-round grades.
  • His team has about 45 players with third-round grades.
  • His team has “starter” or “potential starter” grade on “about 90” players.

King explained that means teams that trade back might do so for more lower picks rather than fewer higher ones.

“Example: If the Bills want Denver’s pick at five, and I’m Broncos GM John Elway, I don’t want the 12th and 22nd picks in return. I want 12, 53, 56 and maybe 96, and I’d flip a lower pick back to Buffalo,” wrote King.

Jeff Zrebiec Picks OT Mike McGlinchey for Ravens in NFL Beat Writer Mock Draft

NFL beat writers from major newspapers around the country teamed up for a first-round mock draft, and The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec represented the Ravens.

By the time he was on the clock, Zrebiec had an intriguing decision to make. Four quarterbacks had already been taken, along with wide receiver Calvin Ridley. But, quarterback Lamar Jackson was still available in addition to wide receiver D.J. Moore and all the tight ends in the class.

Zrebiec passed on Jackson (he wasn’t selected at all in the first round), and opted against getting Flacco a new weapon, choosing instead to keep Flacco protected and upright by drafting Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey.

“With his former college teammate Ronnie Stanley entrenched in the left side, Ravens opt for the book-end, plug-and-play tackle,” Zrebiec wrote. “The Ravens badly need offensive skill-position players but with Ridley off the board, taking any of the other receivers or a tight end at 16 would be a reach. The Ravens have uncertainly at tackle after parting ways with 16-game starter Austin Howard.” 

Ravens Invested $15 Million in Guaranteed Money in New Wide Receiver Project

The Ravens invested $15 million to remake their wide receivers room by signing Crabtree, Brown and Snead, according to ESPN.

“Newsome wanted to change the look of the Baltimore Ravens' wide receivers, and he did so by putting as much faith as money into new targets for quarterback Joe Flacco,” the website wrote.

To put that guaranteed money into perspective, below are the guaranteed figures for some of the other receivers that got new deals this offseason, per Spotrac:

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Bucs: $38.2 million
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Brown: $34 million
Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs: $30 million
Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears: $18 million
Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars: $16.5 million
Donte Moncrief, Jacksonville Jaguars: $9.6 million
Jordy Nelson, Oakland Raiders: $6.4 million

So, $15 million for (presumably) the three starters in 2018 certainly isn’t crazy money, but the Ravens are taking a risk on three players that had down years last season, which is partly why they didn’t command big market value.

“Baltimore is also placing plenty of confidence in Snead, Crabtree and Brown, all of whom are coming off arguably the worst seasons of their careers,” wrote ESPN. “They combined for 1,009 yards receiving last year, a total that was topped by 11 wide receivers.

“Baltimore's hope is that Crabtree will bounce back after catching passes from a banged-up Derek Carr last season. … Brown replaces [Mike] Wallace as the big-play receiver deep downfield. His biggest problem has been staying healthy. … With Snead, the Ravens are banking on him once again being a top slot receiver after getting out of Sean Payton's doghouse.”

A Bone-Headed Draft Grade for the Books

I don’t care who you are. If you’re in the business of making sports predictions, you’ll inevitably make a bone-headed forecast.

But this one may take the cake (hat tip to The Comeback’s Fred Segal for re-discovering it).

Len Pasquarelli, a former ESPN NFL analyst, wrote a draft-grades column while with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1996, and his take on Newsome’s first draft haul is one for the books.

“Baltimore: C … Jonathan Ogden, OT, Ray Lewis LB … Passed on the draft’s best player, and where does Ogden play?”

Pasquarelli gave the Ravens an average grade for selecting two players that would go on to become Hall of Famers with their first two picks in franchise history.

The “best player” in the draft that Baltimore passed on was running back Lawrence Phillips, who the St. Louis Rams ended up selecting at No. 6. Pasquarelli gave them an A for nabbing Phillips, who was talented, but had character concerns. He was out of the league four years later, ended up in prison on a 30-year sentence and tragically took his own life in 2016.

“The Lawrence Phillips story just goes to show how tricky evaluating a player with character concerns before the draft must be,” Segal wrote. “In this case, the Rams and Len Pasquarelli probably would take a do over. The Ravens, on the other hand, do not.”

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