Late for Work 4/9: What Happened With Cameron Meredith? Sorting Through Ravens' QB Draft Buzz

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What Happened With WR Cameron Meredith?

Bears restricted free-agent wide receiver Cameron Meredith signed a two-year offer from the New Orleans Saints worth $9.6 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. He can make more with incentives and received $5.4 million in guarantees, including some in year two.

“Nice deal for Meredith … a player coming off a torn ACL,” tweeted Rapoport.

The Ravens were also reportedly very interested in Meredith after bringing him in for a visit. What happened?

Well, apparently Baltimore also made an offer to the 6-foot-3, 207-pounder, says The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs. He didn’t give any details.

It’s unclear why Meredith chose the Saints, who have less cap space than Baltimore. The Ravens’ overall offer could’ve been lower. Maybe there were just fewer incentives or guarantees. Or, the offer could’ve been in the same ball park but Meredith liked the fit better in New Orleans. Meredith is the only one who can answer those questions.

Meanwhile, the Bears have to decide by Wednesday whether they want to match the Saints’ offer. If they chose to match it, that means the Bears would benefit from New Orleans’ negotiations and contract work. And, it would make Cameron choosing the Saints’ deal over the Ravens’ a moot point.

“Two factors are in play here [for the Bears’ decision]. The first — the medical evaluation of Meredith — looms largest,” wrote Biggs. “How confident are the Bears in Meredith’s rehabilitation? The Ravens are typically conservative when it comes to medical evaluations, and they failed offensive lineman Roberto Garza on a physical before he joined the Bears in 2005. Thus, it’s notable they passed Meredith.

“The second factor is: What type of role does coach Matt Nagy envision for Meredith in the offense after the team splurged for wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and pass-catching tight end Trey Burton in free agency?”

The Bears could’ve spent $1 million more to go from an original-round tender ($1.9 million) to a second-round tender ($2.9 million), a move that would’ve protected Meredith from outside offers. Why they didn’t is an intriguing question.

If they choose not to match the Saints’ offer, that could make it more likely for the Ravens to land wide receiver Willie Snead, if they want. Snead is a New Orleans restricted free agent and the Ravens reportedly met with him the same day as Meredith. Then, they brought him back a second time about 10 days ago.

“Although the Ravens are now officially out of the running for Meredith, they will still likely be playing close attention to this development as it could affect who their next free-agent wide receiver signing is, if they make one at all,” wrote Baltimore Beatdown’s Logan Levy.

“For starters, if the Bears match the offer, which appears to be the most likely outcome, it will hurt Baltimore’s chances of landing Saints receiver Willie Snead. However, if the Bears do not match the offer, New Orleans would likely let Snead walk.”

If the Ravens don’t sign Snead, other veteran options include Eric Decker and Michael Floyd, both of whom the Ravens reportedly brought in for a visit.

Snead is a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder who is still young at 25 years old and one year removed from 72-catch season. He was suspended last year after a DUI. Floyd, 28, is a former No. 13 overall pick, but was also suspended for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse last year following a DUI in 2016.

Decker, 31, is the oldest of the group* *but is more reliable and has a proven track record. He’s notched three 1,000-yard seasons, but had a down year in 2016 with 54 catches for 563 yards and one touchdown. 

Would Ravens Really Draft a QB at 16? Or Do They Just Want Teams to Think They Will?

It all started in early March when former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah projected quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Ravens in his mock draft.

That was the first time buzz seriously began surrounding the possibility of Baltimore using its first-round pick on a quarterback. It continued from there with more recent reports about the Ravens’ interest in Mason Rudolph and Lamar Jackson.

Owner Steve Bisciotti said the Ravens have “bigger fish to fry” than to find Flacco’s successor this year, but General Manager Ozzie Newsome said he could surprise people with the No. 16 selection (if he picks there) and Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said he wouldn’t hesitate picking a quarterback if that’s the way the board falls. DeCosta added there are about nine quarterbacks in this class who could become starters by the end of their rookie deals.              

“The Ravens' front office has done nothing to quiet the hype that Baltimore will take a quarterback in the first round for the first time in a decade,” wrote ESPN. “The key question is: Are the Ravens really interested in Jackson or do they simply want other teams to think they are?

“It's not out of the question that Baltimore takes a quarterback with its top pick.  Flacco has struggled since winning the Super Bowl five years ago, and the Ravens can create $18.5 million in cap space in 2019 by designating him as a post-June 1 cut. If Baltimore believes Flacco could be gone after this season, it makes sense to take a quarterback now, giving him a year to watch and learn.” 

Teams will have to decide for themselves whether this is just gamesmanship, or whether the Ravens really will pull the trigger. Their decision could make a big impact on draft trades and which prospects slide to No. 16.

Saints Host Former Ravens Tackle Austin Howard on Visit

The Saints hosted former Ravens tackle Austin Howard on a visit in New Orleans, according to ESPN Field Yates.

Baltimore opted not to pick up the 2018 option on Howard’s contract after they re-signed offensive lineman James Hurst just before free agency. He had a solid 2017 season, starting all 16 games at right tackle after signing a three-year deal with Baltimore last offseason.

“Currently, James Hurst is ‘penciled in’ to be the team’s right tackle,” wrote Levy.

“Although, with 2018 NFL Draft still to come, that could change. Not to mention, teams are not done cutting veterans, so the Ravens could find their starting right tackle later in the offseason.”

Jaguars Worked Out RGIII Just Before Signing With Ravens

Why did the Ravens sign quarterback Robert Griffin III when they did?

ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio originally wondered whether it had something to do with the team’s deposition in the Colin Kaepernick grievance case against the NFL, but now he has a new theory after he learned that RGIII also worked out with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“The Ravens apparently were concerned that another team would make a move on signing him,” Florio wrote Friday. “[T]he Jaguars worked out Griffin on Monday. That workout came only three days after the Ravens worked out Griffin.

“It’s unclear whether the Jaguars had offered Griffin a contract, or whether they planned to do so. Jacksonville currently has only two quarterbacks on the roster — Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler, who recently arrived from the Browns for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.”

Mel Kiper and Todd McShay’s ‘Dueling’ Two-Round Mock Draft

ESPN draft gurus Mel Kiper and Toddy McShay put together a “dueling” two-round mock draft, and here’s who they picked for the Ravens:

Round 1

Kiper: OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
“Snagging a new right tackle in Round 1 gives Baltimore an upgraded offensive line – and helps Flacco.”

McShay: TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
“The Ravens need another playmaking pass-catcher, and Hurst fits the bill. I have Dallas Goedert ranked ahead of Hurst, but I think I'm in the minority.”

Round 2

Kiper: TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
“Former second-round pick Maxx Williams has only 47 catches since being drafted in 2015. Andrews played essentially as a slot receiver for the Sooners, so he needs to develop as a blocker.”

McShay: WR Antonio Callaway, Florida
“Even with the additions of Michael Crabtree and John Brown, another wideout would be helpful for Baltimore.”

Quick Hits

  • “I think Baltimore signing Robert Griffin III doesn’t mean anything about the Ravens’ draft-weekend intentions,” wrote Peter King. “If there’s a quarterback there at 16 (Lamar Jackson?) who the Ravens love, they’ll take him. As they should. Since Flacco won the Super Bowl for Baltimore, there have been five seasons played in the NFL. In those five seasons combined, 31 quarterbacks have started at least 40 games. Flacco is 30th in passer rating in those five seasons, at 82.1. [Sports Illustrated]
  • “Everyone told me growing up I was a football player who plays baseball,” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “As a pitcher, I wasn't as concerned about throwing strikes as I was lighting up radar guns. When I would get mad, I'd try to throw even harder. And that doesn't correlate to success. In football, there is a mental side to the game, which is huge. But there is also that raw aggression. If I get pissed off, I can put my facemask in this guy's chin. That's where a lot of my success comes from, that pent-up aggression from baseball.” [Bleacher Report]
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