Ravens' Bargain Shopping Begins Today With Plenty Of Options
I have a feeling General Manager Ozzie Newsome headed into work this morning with an extra spring in his step.
That's because today is May 12 – the day signing unrestricted free agents (UFAs) doesn't count against the compensatory pick formula. Teams previously had to wait until June 1 for this.
"Go shopping for bargains," wrote ESPN's Bill Barnwell. "Just like your friend who buys all the half-price candy [the] day after Halloween, the Ravens love a good bargain when they find one."
Bargains, you say?
You mean like when Baltimore got linebacker Daryl Smith in 2013? The Ravens signed him after June 1 and he went on to start all 16 games for the next three seasons. They could certainly use another Smith at inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said at the conclusion of the draft that the team would look at free-agent linebackers to add to the competition with Arthur Brown, Zachary Orr and Albert McClellan.
"We're talking to free agents right now; it's part of the process," Harbaugh said. "We have had a good history of free-agent linebackers here, obviously in the last 10 years, coming in and doing really well. So, that's a possibility."
In order to net a third-round pick for losing offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele to the Oakland Raiders (the only expected comp pick for Baltimore in 2017), the Ravens needed to lay off signing any more UFAs until today. They uncharacteristically signed two this offseason in safety Eric Weddle and tight end Benjamin Watson. If either quarterback Matt Schaub or outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw are cut in Atlanta, Osemele would only net a 7th-rounder, according to OverTheCap.com.
But all of that is out of the Ravens' control now, and they can only focus on tweaking their roster with any free agent they choose to target. They have enough cap space for a couple modest additions.
In addition to inside linebackers, Baltimore could also continue to bolster its cornerback corps, with some media members seeing it as the most glaring area of need.
Barnwell specifically points to former Bengals corner Leon Hall as a "logical pickup in this window."
Hall was graded as the 27th best corner last year by Pro Football Focus. That was higher than all the Ravens corners with Lardarius Webb the closest at No. 46. Hall played in 14 games, but didn't start in any, notching nine passes defensed and two interceptions.
ProFootballTalk.com listed 147 players that can now be signed without hurting a team's chances at comp picks. You can check out the full list here, but I've specifically pulled out potential inside linebackers and corners.
CB Phillip Adams
CB Alan Ball
CB Tarell Brown
CB Cortland Finnegan
CB Leon Hall
CB Brandon Harris
CB Jayron Hosley
CB Mike Jenkins
CB Trumaine McBride
CB Christopher Owens
CB Jerraud Powers
CB Charles Tillman
CB Cassius Vaughn
CB Cary Williams
CB Josh Wilson
LB James Anderson
LB Jamari Lattimore
LB Casey Matthews
LB Joe Mays
LB Dezman Moses
LB Jason Trusnik
LB Dekoda Watson
Details Of Rookie Contracts; Why Three Remain Unsigned
The Ravens have signed eight of their 11 draft picks with only first-rounder Ronnie Stanley, third-rounder Bronson Kaufusi and sixth-rounder Kennan Reynolds left to ink their contracts.
While the new rookie pool makes it much easier for NFL teams to sign their draft picks, there are still some things to work through with each of their remaining unsigned selections.
Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland said that for first-round picks, there's usually some "offset language" to work through. For third-round picks, slotting signing bonuses in the second, third and fourth years takes time. And Reynolds is a special case where he is awaiting word on his availability to play from the Navy.
Below is McFarland's estimated contract for the three remaining unsigned players and the numbers for those that have already signed.
1st Round, Ronnie Stanley: 4 years, $20,484,415 (ESTIMATED)
2nd Round, Kamalei Correa: 4 years, $5,749,640
3rd Round, Bronson Kaufusi: 4 years, $3,725,194 (ESTIMATED)
4th Round, Tavon Young: 4 years, $2,945,128
4th Round, Chris Moore: 4 years, $2,936,360
4th Round, Alex Lewis: 4 years, $2,831,896
4th Round, Willie Henry: 4 years, $2,723,392
4th Round, Kenneth Dixon: 4 years, $2,723,392
5th Round, Matthew Judon: 4 years, $2,595,736
6th Round, Keenan Reynolds: 4 years, $2,485,692 (STANDARD SLOTTED)
6th Round, Maurice Canady: 4 years, $2,440,352
Brian Billick, John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin To Attend 'A Night of Heroes'
Good causes can bring rivals together.
That's exactly what "A Night of Heroes: Champions and Survivors," is doing with three Super Bowl-winning coaches.
Former Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick, current Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh and current Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin will be among the guests at the fundraising reception next Thursday at Baltimore Harbor Hotel, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Proceeds will go to the There Goes My Hero Foundation, which works to restore hope to leukemia patients and their families. Other guests include former Ravens James Trapp and Ma'ake Kemoeatu, and former Steeler Chris Kemoeatu.
Ravens Are Improved, But Road To Playoffs Still Difficult
While CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown believes the Ravens have improved their roster this offseason, he isn't sure they improved enough to advance to the postseason.
Here are his three reasons why:
1. Don't expect the Bengals or Steelers to take a step back.
The Bengals lost some key pieces this offseason, but restocked through the draft and still have A.J. Green and a strong defense. The Steelers will tout one of the best offenses in the league again.
2. The AFC wild-card race won't be a picnic either.
Some key opponents to watch are the Raiders and Jaguars, says Brown, who are improving franchises and had solid drafts.
3. The fourth quarter of the Ravens' schedule is tough.
On paper, the schedule is more lenient that last year, but the last four games are at New England, vs. Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh (on Christmas), and at Cincinnati (on New Year's Day).
"If the Ravens make the playoffs, nobody should say they didn't deserve it. The road to the postseason looks anything but easy," wrote Brown. Quick Hits
Want to officially let the world know I'm ready to play again in 2016. If any team is interested in my services contact my agent Joel Segal. — Jason Campbell (@J_Cam17) May 11, 2016