Flacco Speaks Up About Adding WR, Contract
Ravens brass has been consistent in saying the team is comfortable with the current corps of wide receivers, despite losing Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, from* *Owner Steve Bisciotti saying the team "isn't desperate" for a wideout to Assistant GM Eric DeCosta saying Joe Flacco can develop young pass catchers.
But what does Flacco have to say about it? After all, he'll be the one searching for open targets on those crucial third downs come September.
He says he's satisfied, too.
Sure, he'd always welcome an addition, including a speed receiver, but Joe Cool isn't worried. He may not even tune into Thursday night's NFL Draft to see what unfolds.
"Obviously, without Torrey now, the one thing we probably don't have as much of is that speed, is that one guy who can stretch the field," Flacco told multiple reporters Saturday night during a Special Olympics Maryland event, including The Baltimore Sun and ESPN.com. "But I'm not going to say we need it. I think we got really good guys and I think we're good with who we have."
Steve Smith Sr. is the only receiver to catch more than 25 passes last season, yet Flacco and Ravens decision makers have seen enough from Marlon Brown, Michael Campanaro and Kamar Aiken to feel confident going forward.
Still, with 10 picks in this year's draft, it would be surprising if the Ravens didn't select at least one receiver.
"The Ravens are pushing their happiness with their current receiving group hard, but it's hard to believe they'll avoid the position next week," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Josh Alper.
If a wideout is taken, history suggests it might not come in the first round. The franchise has only drafted a wide receiver in the first round twice in its 19-year existence (Travis Taylor, in 2000 and Mark Clayton, in 2005).
Plus, Bisciotti talked about how you can strike gold in the middle to late rounds like the Pittsburgh Steelers have done in recent years with Mike Wallace (third round, 2009), Emmanuel Sanders (third, 2010) and Antonio Brown (sixth, 2010).
Still, ESPN's Jamison Hensley is convinced that receiver is a big enough need that the Ravens may not just take one, but two.
"There's also a chance the Ravens could take a wide receiver early as well as add another burner in the middle rounds," he wrote. "The Ravens need to get more deep targets for Joe Flacco's strong arm."
"If that's where we go, that's where we go," Flacco said about the possibility of taking a wide receiver early. "I trust these guys to get somebody good. I think we've got a good group and we are good with where we are."
In addition to finding targets for Flacco, there is also the matter of his contract next season. While his $120 million deal has been cap friendly for the first three years, it reportedly balloons to $28.55 million next season.
If that figure were to remain, it would be the second highest cap hit in the NFL behind Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's $28.6 million. It seems from the moment the Ravens and Flacco agreed to terms, they knew a restructure would be needed before the 2016 season.
Bisciotti expressed confidence earlier this month that a new deal could be established that would work for both sides, and Flacco was appreciative of those comments coming from the team owner.
"I'd definitely like to [get a deal done]. It's good to hear him say that," Flacco said. "This has been my home for a good amount of time now and I consider it to be that. You think every now and then but not too much, honestly. You just go out and play and all that stuff will take care of itself."
In the meantime, Flacco is focused on this upcoming season and getting on the same page with new Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman.
"Everybody likes Marc, I think he's a bright guy," Flacco said. "I think he's running the meetings well. I think he's doing some really good things. We're evolving a little bit. I think he's going to be a good fit."
Will Pitta Play? 'That's My Hope. That's My Goal.'
Remember what Head Coach John Harbaugh said at Owners Meetings in February regarding the status of tight end Dennis Pitta?
He said his dislocated hip was "fully recovered" in terms of living a great life, but it would be up to Pitta whether he wants to play football again.
After participating in the first week of voluntary workouts at the Under Armour Performance Center, Pitta told reporters at the Special Olympics Maryland event Saturday night that he's not rushing a decision.
"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," he said. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope, that's my goal. We'll just see if we can get there."
Since there are no guarantees about Pitta, who signed a five-year contract last offseason reportedly worth $32 million, the team must move forward with its draft plan. The next two tight ends on the depth chart are Crockett Gillmore and Phillip Supernaw, who have a combined one NFL start between them.
"There's not likely to be any change in his status between now and Thursday's start to the draft, which means the Ravens have to continue to plan for life without Pitta in the passing game," wrote Alper.
Perhaps the Ravens will look to the mid-rounds to find another pass-catching tight end. That is exactly where they found Pitta (fourth round) in 2010.
Why Are Harbaugh And Roethlisberger Hugging?
This doesn't look right.
Only in Bizarro World do arch-nemeses like Harbaugh and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hug it out.
Apparently Miami (Ohio) football is a powerful enough motivator to get the two men to put aside their Ravens-Steelers rivalry. As Miami alumni, Harbs (class of 1984) and Big Ben (class of 2012) were featured speakers at Saturday's ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new David and Anita Dauch Indoor Sports Center.
Roethlisberger contributed $1 million to the facility, and while Harbaugh also reportedly contributed, the amount was not released.
It makes sense that the two would both come together in the name of their alma mater, but was a hug necessary?
"Maybe Harbaugh was feeling for any weak spots on big Ben's ribs?" joked BaltimoreBeatdown.com blogger Matthew Stevens. "Maybe he stepped on his toe when they went in for the hug? Or maybe Harbaugh just reminded Ben of the whooping that his Baltimore Ravens put on the Steelers in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs last season to send them back home."
Added blogger Neal Coolong from SteelersWire.com: "Roethlisberger clearly has the opportunity here to exact some measure of revenge, passing on an opportunity to steamroll the Ravens coach as he blabbed on at the podium in front of a bunch of people who no doubt hate him. So clearly Ben is the better person. Excuse me, need to smash the computer now."
Obviously this is uncomfortable for both sides of the aisle.
Cornerback Still A Need After Jimmy Re-Signed?
Pending a healthy return from his foot injury, cornerback Jimmy Smith was going to be playing for the Ravens in 2015 regardless of his contract situation.
That's why Hensley believes drafting a corner is just as big a need for Baltimore as it was before Smith signed his four-year extension last week.
"Signing Jimmy Smith to an extension was a bonus," Hensley wrote. "The Ravens still need to add a cornerback because of Lardarius Webb's uneven play last season and the lack of a proven nickelback. It would not surprise me if the Ravens selected either Wake Forest's Kevin Johnson or Washington's* *Marcus Peters in the first round.
"Baltimore could pair one of them with Smith for the next five years, and the Ravens would have one of the best young cornerback tandems in the league."
Salary-Cap Update: $10.67 Million
The Ravens are $10.67 million under the salary cap now that Smith's 2015 cap hit has gone from $6.898 to $3.6 million, according to The Sun's Aaron Wilson. The new contract averages $10.28 million per year, but the first year is very cap friendly.
"The Ravens have enough financial flexibility to sign free agents, extend current players under contract and still have enough money set aside for their rookie pool to sign as many as 10 draft picks," wrote Wilson.
Below are the top-10 salary cap commitments:
- Quarterback Joe Flacco ($14.55 million)
- Former running back Ray Rice ($9.5 million)
- Cornerback Lardarius Webb ($9.25 million)
- Offensive guard Marshal Yanda ($8.45 million)
- Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe ($7.7 million)
- Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil ($7.375 million)
- Tight end Dennis Pitta ($6.2 million)
- Wide receiver Steve Smith ($4.166 million)
- Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs ($3.95 million)
- Middle linebacker Daryl Smith ($3.875 million)
- Hensley gave the Ravens an overall A-minus grade for last year's draft class, including an A-plus for selecting linebacker C.J. Mosley in the first round. "The Baltimore Ravens don't make the playoffs last season without the immediate impact of this draft class," he wrote. [ESPN]