Late for Work 4/6: Eric Decker Continues Trend in WR Visits; Ravens Interested in QB Mason Rudolph

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Eric Decker Continues Trend in Ravens’ Recent Receiver Visits

Have you noticed a trend in the types of veteran receivers the Ravens have reportedly brought in for visits recently?

There’s the two restricted free agents Willie Snead and Cameron Meredith. They’ve remained in contact with Michael Campanaro. And now there’s Eric Decker.

“The Ravens’ recent receiving targets clearly reflect the team’s desire to add help in the slot, where they currently lack a more proven option,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.

“The Ravens are interested in Decker, although it isn’t clear how far along the two sides are in contract talks. … At 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds, he is a big target on third downs and in the red zone, which the Ravens need. Decker has 53 career touchdown catches in 111 games.”

Decker and Meredith don’t fit the mold of a prototypical slot receiver, but Decker ran 46 percent of his routes from the slot last year, according to Pro Football Focus. Meredith ran 52 percent in 2016.

The Ravens were reportedly interested in Decker last season, but he ended up signing with Tennessee while the Ravens landed Jeremy Maclin. Decker finished with a bit more production, catching 54 passes for 563 yards and one touchdown. Maclin caught 14 fewer passes and 123 fewer yards but had two more touchdowns. Decker played all 16 games while Maclin played 13.

Decker, 31, reportedly visited the Oakland Raiders last month. He also told a Denver radio station that he’d love to return to the Broncos after they drafted him in third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Decker and his wife, Jessie, have settled their family in Denver where all their children have been born, including their third last week.

The Ravens want to get younger at the receiver position, which will happen through the draft, but General Manager Ozzie Newsome said he could still add another veteran before he’s on the clock later this month. Historically, he has always filled glaring holes before the draft, as it’s unknown how the board will fall or how rookies will develop.

“There’s an expectation that the Ravens will draft at least one receiver, but they’d clearly feel better about what they have at the position with a proven slot guy added to the mix,” wrote Zrebiec.

“The belief is that the Ravens really like Meredith, but it’s always difficult to sign another team’s restricted free agent and the Bears, who have plenty of cap space available, are in position to match any deal assuming they value the receiver to that extent.”

Ravens Interested in QB Mason Rudolph

After announcing the addition of quarterback Robert Griffin III, Newsome made it clear the signing wouldn’t alter the Ravens’ quarterback draft plans.

He added a little more intrigue by saying people may be surprised by who he will draft at No. 16, IF he stays at 16.

Could the surprise player be Oklahoma St. quarterback Mason Rudolph?

“Some teams are divided on just how well this kid projects to the NFL, but there are enough teams that like him enough that I see him being the fifth QB off the board … And far sooner than some would have projected,” wrote CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora.

“I continue to hear the Ravens – deep into this QB market with them able to untangle themselves from Joe Flacco's contract after 2018 – are high on Rudolph and I'm guessing he doesn't get by them with that pick. The question becomes has Arizona (pick 15, for now) or someone else already selected him?”

Rudolph stands in at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds and has amassed a massive amount of passing yards as a three-year starter. He surpassed the 4,000-yard passing mark twice and came up just 96 yards short of 5,000 his senior year last season.

Here is NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s scouting report on Rudolph: “Pocket quarterback with good size who has shown consistent improvement as a passer. Rudolph is more of a downfield, play-action passer than a quarterback who can win with precision and arm strength. He's a capable field reader who has the ability to operate with timing which will be important since his arm can be dull at times. Rudolph could be an early backup with the potential of becoming an average to below average starter in the league.”

If the Ravens were to select Rudolph, or any other quarterback at 16, he would likely be Flacco’s main backup and develop behind him for a year or two before being promoted to the starting role.

Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta gave glowing reviews of the 2018 quarterback class, saying that eight or nine of them could become starters before their rookie contracts expire.

RGIII Pushing Joe Flacco for Starting Role Is a ‘Silly’ Notion

Yesterday in LFW, we addressed people who didn’t think Griffin was worth a 1-year, $1 million deal that essentially gives him a chance to try out for the team this summer and maybe become the primary backup.

Today, we’ll address the other extreme point of view. There are some wondering if RGII could push Flacco for the starting job.

“I have no strong opinion on Robert Griffin III, but the notion that an oft-injured quarterback who was out of the league last year pushing Joe Flacco is silly,” wrote WNST’s Luke Jones.

Added Zrebiec: “With that financial commitment, we can bury the already silly notion that the Ravens may have signed Griffin to light a fire under Flacco. What should probably light a fire under Flacco is the fact that both Newsome and coach John Harbaugh have openly talked about the benefits of a quarterback getting together with his receivers in the offseason. It’s appropriate to say that the ball is now in Flacco’s court.”

Colin Kaepernick Was Present for Deposition With Harbaugh, Newsome

Colin Kaepernick was present for the deposition with Newsome and Harbaugh Thursday as part of the quarterback’s collusion grievance against the NFL, according La Canfora.

The deposition occurred one day after the Ravens announced they will sign Griffin to a one-year deal.

“Legal proceedings of this nature are confidential and cannot be commented on publicly,” a Ravens spokesperson said.

Baltimore considered signing both Griffin and Kaepernick last year when Flacco was dealing with a back injury during training camp. The ended up not signing either at the time because Flacco’s health improved and he started all 16 games.

The Ravens revisited Griffin when they asked him to throw passes during a workout for receivers last week. They needed new blood with last year’s backup, Ryan Mallett, now a free agent.

Quick Hits

  • “Ozzie Newsome has been criticized for rarely talking to media, but he said he’s taking ‘all the blame’ for missing the playoffs three straight times and was complimentary of John Harbaugh,” wrote Jones. “He remains measured, but you can tell he really wants to right the ship in his final season.” [WNST]
  • “Given the Ravens’ signing of Griffin and the fact that most teams already have two veteran quarterbacks, if not three, on their roster, it’s fair to wonder whether Ryan Mallett will be able to find a job in 2018
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