Free Agent Center Nick Mangold Visits Ravens
The Ravens are doing their homework on one potential solution to fill their starting center role.
They're hosting a* *free-agent visit with former New York Jets seven-time Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley. Mangold arrived in Baltimore Tuesday night and will stay through Wednesday.
The Ravens are looking for a new starter after trading three-year starter Jeremy Zuttah to the San Francisco 49ers last month. The Ravens have in-house options with John Urschel and Ryan Jensen, but they don't have the track record of Mangold.
"Mangold would represent an upgrade, especially in terms of experience," Hensley wrote. "He has made 164 career starts, hasn't allowed a sack in 33 straight games and has been penalized only five times in the past four seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, Urschel and Jensen have combined for seven starts at center.
"[Mangold] is considered the top center available in free agency."
Despite his background, the market has been slow to develop for Mangold, who was released by the Jets in February. At 33, his age and injuries are likely two reasons teams have taken their time in pursuing him.* *A serious ankle injury prevented Mangold from playing in the final eight games of last season and he eventually landed on injured reserve.
That's why a visit with the Ravens won't necessarily lead to a marriage.
"There are no guarantees that they will sign him, but the Ravens are doing their due diligence on Mangold's health," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
If his health checks out, and Baltimore ends up signing the gritty veteran, the good news is that he won't count against the compensatory pick formula because he was cut by his former team. Additionally, he could be the answer to a big hole on the offense.
"[A] healthy Mangold could make the center question moot, while leaving right tackle as the only unsettled position along the Ravens offensive line," wrote Zrebiec.
Pro & Cons Of Timmy Jernigan Trade
Despite Head Coach John Harbaugh confirming last week that the team was engaged in trade talks for defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan, the fact the team actually pulled the trigger Tuesday was still a shock to many.
The Ravens traded Jernigan to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up 25 spots in the third round of April's draft, giving up their late-round compensatory pick (from losing Kelechi Osemele) at pick No. 99 to the Eagles' spot at No. 74 (the 10th pick in the round).
The news was surprising to many media members because they could point out several reasons to hold onto Jernigan for another year. But, on the other hand, the move made sense on several levels.
Let's take a look at a pros and cons list of the trade. Whether it looks like the one below, General Manager Ozzie Newsome likely had his own list and obviously felt it leaned in favor of trading his former second-round draft pick.
Con: Ravens give up 2019 comp pick to move up just 25 spots ----> Pro: Ravens immediately get much-needed draft currency in a loaded class
Yes, that is a fair question, and Jones actually helped answer it in his own coverage of the trade at WNST.net. Jones used the draft trade chart to see what moving up 25 spots in the third round is worth, and it works out to be value comparable to a late third- or early fourth-round pick.
That's the best-case scenario of what the Ravens could've netted in 2019 with a compensatory pick, assuming Jernigan would have signed a big enough deal with another team after this season and saw enough playing time with that team in 2018.
So the value seems about equivalent, but Newsome will get it now instead of waiting two years. He now has four of the draft's first 78 picks. Folks, that some serious assets in a loaded draft – especially on defense – that Newsome can use to help the team win now.
Con: Ravens are now without two 2016 starting defensive linemen ----> Pro: Ravens are stocked with young talent that the team clearly has confidence in, and they get a one-year head start because Jernigan was unlikely to re-sign after this season
The Ravens already lost starting defensive end Lawrence Guy in free agency to the New England Patriots, and now they'll be down another starter with Jernigan in Philly. On top of that, Harbaugh said Jernigan was primed to have the best year of career this season.
That's one of the reasons Hensley called the trade a "gamble."
"The safer play would've been to hold onto Jernigan for another year to get the most out of him, [and] let him sign elsewhere in free agency," he wrote. "That's why this trade works for the Ravens only if their young defensive linemen step up. Michael Pierce, Carl Davis and Willie Henry have to stuff the run and collapse the pocket like Jernigan was going to do.
"[K]eeping Jernigan takes away snaps from the Ravens' next generation of defensive tackles. Baltimore believes Pierce, an undrafted rookie from last season, can stop the run better than Jernigan. What if Henry, who didn't play last season, can rush the passer like Jernigan? The Ravens are now going to find out this season."
As such, this move shows the Ravens have confidence in those younger players stepping up this season instead of a year from now after Jernigan likely would've left via free agency. In fact, in a statement about the trade, Newsome cited the opportunity for the younger players as a reason for the move.
"That the Ravens were willing to deal him … is a vote of confidence for their team's young defensive lineman," wrote Zrebiec.
Con: Ravens lose out on Jernigan's interior pass-rush production this season ---> Pro: Jernigan's decreasing production seems replaceable
After the Ravens invested a reported $52 million in defensive tackle Brandon Williams last month, it was unlikely they'd also be able to invest enough in Jernigan to get him to stay beyond 2017. But they're also giving up production from what would've been a highly-motivated player in a contract season now.
It's true that Jernigan provided the most interior pass rush last season, racking up five sacks that led the defensive line. But his production steeply trailed off after notching three sacks in the first three games. He had just one sack in the final nine games, and his snaps decreased as younger defensive linemen got more playing time.
Con: Ravens make an uncharacteristic move with a talented former second-round pick ---> Jernigan was talented, but inconsistent, and unhappy with his decreased role
This kind of move is not very Newsome-like. He usually holds onto talented players through at least the end of their rookie contracts.
This was a clear departure from that typical practice, and there may have been a few reasons for it.
"Why the change? Jernigan wasn't a Pro Bowl player," wrote Hensley. "He's known for making boneheaded plays like roughing the passer on the winning drive in Oakland in 2015, and losing a fumble against the New York Jets last season."
Added Zrebiec: "[Jernigan] made it clear in the season's final weeks that he was not happy with his reduced role. … Jernigan, though, never consistently lived up to his expectations after the Ravens selected him with the 48th overall pick in 2014."
Tony Romo's Retirement Makes Joe Flacco NFL's Highest Cap Hit
Now that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has officially retired from football in favor of a broadcast gig with CBS, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco becomes the highest cap hit in the NFL this season.
Flacco reportedly has a $24.55 million cap number in 2015. Romo was scheduled to carry a $24.7 million cap hit in Dallas.
"This marks only the second season in which Flacco has ranked among the top-15 cap numbers. Last season, he had the fourth-highest cap figure at $22.55 million," wrote Hensley.
Harbaugh said last week at the owners meetings that the goal with Flacco is to win multiple Super Bowls and the team has to do a better job of building a team around him that will help accomplish that goal.
"When he first walked into the building after we drafted him in 2008, [it was like], 'Hey, dude, we're going to win multiple Super Bowls,'" Harbaugh said "We're going to win multiple championships here. And we're going to."