Would Ravens Be Interested in Starting LB Mychal Kendricks After Surprise Cut?
One of the few unsettled starting jobs on the Ravens defense is at weak-side linebacker, which is why we got fan questions about Baltimore potentially signing former Philadelphia Eagles starting linebacker Mychal Kendricks after he was surprisingly cut Tuesday.
On one hand, the release makes sense because Kendricks was scheduled to put an $8.6 million dent in the cap and he requested a trade prior to the 2017 season.
But on the other hand, NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling called the timing of his release a “head scratcher” because the Eagles are dealing with issues at linebacker (Jordan Hicks is recovering from Achilles surgery and Paul Worrilow tore his ACL Tuesday).
Does that say something about Kendricks’ ability when they cut him despite having a need?
“Selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, Kendricks entered the league with a reputation as an athletic, rangy linebacker ideally suited to the modern, pass-heavy NFL,” wrote Wesseling. “After a promising rookie season, he was viewed as one of the most impressive young linebackers in football.
“Over the past half-decade, though, multiple Eagles coaching staffs have arrived at the conclusion that he's best utilized as a two-down player, the ostensible source of frustration that has landed Kendricks on the trade block since 2015.”
The Ravens could certainly use a linebacker who can help in pass coverage, especially against tight ends, where the defense struggled last year.
The biggest reason could be that the Ravens like the competition they already have with last year’s starter Patrick Onwuasor, 2016 second-round pick Kamalei Correa and fourth-round rookie Kenny Young, who also has a reputation for strong pass coverage. Albert McClellan (ACL) and Bam Bradley (ACL) are both returning from injury and are also in the mix.
Additionally, while Kendricks has been a starter over the last six seasons, a closer look shows that his snap count has steadily decreased since his rookie year. According to PhillyVoice.com, he went from playing in 88.4 percent of the snaps in 2012 all the way to 26.8 percent in 2016. He saw another spike last season (59.4 percent), but that was because of the injury to Hicks.
If the Ravens view Kendricks as a two-down linebacker like the Eagles do, then it may not be worth adding him to an already robust competition. They may want to see what their current crop of young linebackers can do this summer before adding anyone else to the mix.
If Kendricks were to sign in the AFC North, there are many analysts who believe he could land with the Pittsburgh Steelers because they are still looking to replace linebacker Ryan Shazier.
CBS Sports’ John Breech named nine different potential landing spots for Kendricks. Baltimore wasn’t one, but Pittsburgh was listed at No. 2.
“If Kendricks is smart, he won't leave the state of Pennsylvania when making his first free agency visit and that's because Pittsburgh should be at the top of his list (even if they're not on the top of our list),” Breech wrote. “As a matter of fact, you could easily argue that Kendricks would instantly become the best inside linebacker on the Steelers' roster if they were to sign him, which is exactly why they should.”
Could a Ravens-Chargers Trade Be in the Cards After Los Angeles Lost TE Hunter Henry to an ACL Injury?
Your heart goes out to Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry after he suffered an ACL injury during Organized Team Activities practice Tuesday.
Blah. Non-contact injuries in May are the WORST. We know this from last year with Tavon Young.
While Henry begins his long rehabilitation process, the Chargers will now look for a new pass-catching tight end.
“The loss of Henry is a crushing blow for a team that won six of seven to close out last season,” wrote Wesseling. “With the 2016 second-round pick emerging as one of the NFL's top all-around tight ends, the Bolts had the look of a top-five offense. It's no coincidence that their record improved from 0-3 to 9-4 once Henry replaced a declining Antonio Gates in the starting lineup.”
Part of the reason Baltimore drafted not one, but two tight ends, was because there wasn’t a clear pass-catcher on the roster. The Chargers need a pass-catcher too, so instead of a trade, the safer bet is that they open conversations back up with future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates, who is on the market and wants to play for a 16th NFL season.
It might be smart for the Ravens to hold onto all four tight ends this summer, as you can never predict injuries. Plus, it isn’t completely out of the question that the Ravens keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster, especially if they contribute on special teams. They had four tight ends on the roster last year.
Maxx Williams will try to prove he’s worth one of those coveted spots.
“With early draft picks Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews now on board and Nick Boyle returning, Williams finds himself in a position in which he’ll have to earn his offensive snaps,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “He’s a solid blocker and special teams player, so there’s room for him on the roster. However, the 2015 second-round pick obviously would like to make an impact in the passing game in the final year of his rookie deal.”
Joe Flacco Developing Nice Rapport With Smokey Brown
Holy gorgeous pass and catch, Joe Flacco and Smokey Brown.
This was an absolute bomb during yesterday’s practice from the Ravens quarterback to one of his newly added free-agent weapons from March.
I’m trying to decide which is more beautiful: Flacco’s heave with a simple flick of the wrist, or Brown’s lunging fingertips catch with a subsequent slide in the end zone.
It’ll take both for a play like this to translate into a game, along with solid protection from the offensive line. There’s a long way to go until then, but this is a nice first step as Flacco tries to develop a rapport with the many, many targets the Ravens front office added to his arsenal this offseason.
Report: Ozzie Newsome Blocks Packers From Hiring His Scout
Apparently, Green Bay Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst wanted to hire one of the Ravens’ scouts, but Ozzie Newsome turned him away … at least for now.
Milt Hendrickson has been with the team since 2005, and was promoted to a national scout in 2016 after Joe Douglas left and is now the Vice President of Player Personnel in Philly. Hendrickson knows Gutekunst from their time together in 1996 at UW-La Crosse, where Hendrickson was getting a master’s degree and coaching football alongside the Packers’ new general manager. Hendrickson also interned for the Packers in 2004.
Hendrickson is a Wisconsin native, where he and his family now reside. He has scouted the Midwestern region for years, helping the Ravens draft offensive linemen Rick Wagner and Kelechi Osemele.
The Ravens have lost several scouts over the last few years, and Owner Steve Bisciotti said in February that he believes those losses have had a negative effect on the Ravens’ recent draft hauls.
“When we lost those scouts, we didn’t necessarily go out and hire equal scouts to replace them, and I think that was a mistake,” Bisciotti said.
- Logan Levy made three bold predictions for the Ravens this year, including that Young will win the starting WILL linebacker role, and wide receiver Breshad Perriman and undrafted rookie running back De’Lance Turner will make the 53-man roster. [Baltimore Beatdown]