Are Ravens' Tight Ends Better Than Patriots'?
People are debating Crockett Gillmore's declaration that the Ravens tight ends are "the best group in the NFL."
Obviously the folks up in New England don't agree, and they have a pretty good argument. The Patriots already have the league's single best tight end in Rob Gronkowski and they added 2014 Pro Bowler Martellus Bennett via trade this offseason.
Gillmore and the Ravens can make a case for themselves as well with a deep array of weapons, including Gillmore himself, Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams, Dennis Pitta and Nick Boyle.
"I'm not afraid to say it. It's hands down [the best group]," Gillmore said Tuesday.
We're going to need independent and unbiased arbitrators to weigh in.
Today, we've got NFL Media's Marc Sessler, ESPN's Jamison Hensley and CBSSports.com's Sean Wagner-McGough. Here are the main points from each:
*Ravens are deep, but Patriots have the top duo *Sessler: "The Ravens certainly are deep at the position from top to bottom, but they don't house the league's top duo. That goes to the Patriots, who march into September with Gronk and Bennett poised to blow up opponents."
*Gillmore isn't arguing who has the top duo, he's arguing who has the best overall group *Hensley: "Gillmore has a point, because he said Baltimore had the best tight-ends group, not duo. No one will argue that the league's top 1-2 punch at tight end is Gronkowski and Bennett. They've produced the most receiving yards at that position since 2013. But, when looking at each team's tight ends from top to bottom, Gillmore can make the case that the Ravens are atop the NFL.
"This could be a special year for the Ravens' tight ends if Watson doesn't show his age (35), Pitta plays close to his previous form, Williams takes the next step in his development and Gillmore stays healthy – a lot of question marks to go along with the potential. For the Patriots, there is a significant drop-off at tight end after Gronkowski and Bennett."
*All five Ravens tight ends still don't match Patriots' top two … and when was the last time you saw a five tight-end set? *Wagner-McGough: "Even if you add up the totals of all five of the Ravens tight ends (Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle, Benjamin Watson, and Dennis Pitta) and compare that to the Patriots' top two tight ends, you won't find a major statistical category that says the Ravens' five-man group is better than the Patriots' duo.
"So, by a statistical measuring stick, Gillmore is wrong. And if he thinks the Ravens five-man unit gives them more collective power than the Patriots' two tight ends, he's still wrong. For one, five tight-end sets don't even exist. Three tight-end sets often only exist in short-yardage situations. All five tight ends won't even make the final roster, as Gillmore mentioned."
Patriots' top duo = 728 career catches, 9,141 yards, 88 touchdowns
Ravens' top five = 665 career catches, 7,286 yards, 55 touchdowns
Pretty solid points from all sides. But remember, it's June. Just about all NFL teams think they boast the most-talented groups and are going to win the Super Bowl.
It will be Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman's (good) problem to have in figuring out how to employ all his tight end weapons in a way that gets the most production for the offense. Then, we'll see in January who had the better year.
Joe Flacco Makes Forbes' 2016 Highest-Paid Athletes List
Quarterback Joe Flacco's three-year contract extension in March boosted him near the top of Forbes' "The World's Highest-Paid Athletes" list.
Flacco is the 14th-highest compensated world athlete in 2016, and the 3rd highest among NFL players behind Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (7th overall) and Giants quarterback Eli Manning (13th overall).
Flacco's reported $40 million signing bonus is one of the key reasons he's so high on the list this year. That accounts for almost all of his Forbes' estimated earnings in 2015 of $44.5 million.
With the way Forbes puts together these lists, the players with the newest contracts – and accompanying signing bonuses – almost always jump to the top. This year's top-earning NFL players all addressed their contracts this offseason, including Newton, Manning, Flacco, Tom Brady (15), Russell Wilson (18), Philip Rivers (20) and Marcell Dareus (26). Note how many of those players are quarterbacks, too.
"Heck, how else do you explain Colts offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo (79) even sniffing the list, ahead of players such as Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham?" wrote NJ.com's Jordan Raanan.
No other Ravens made the Top 100.
Kendrick Lewis Engagement Video?
I love nothing more than seeing couples in love, and Ravens safety Kendrick Lewis is smitten.
The seven-year veteran is engaged to be married on July 9, and he frequently posts about how much he cares for his bride-to-be.
"Oh she's just the Woman of My Dreams!" Lewis posted on Instagram back in November. "Who happens to be The Love of My LifeSoon To Be Wife! Countdown til July 9, 2016 #WeddingDay Love U So Much @codi_rn"
We all know about the time-honored tradition of taking engagement photos, but I'm wondering if this trailer is Lewis' version of an engagement video. The couple shot a high-end trailer in a luxury private plane at an airport hangar that Lewis posted on Instagram this week. He even has a poster for the trailer called "Newlywed$."
I'm sorry, but they might earn the award for best-dressed Ravens couple. They look absolutely beautiful in the video, and I look forward to seeing pictures and video from the actual wedding day.
Congratulations to the couple!
John Harbaugh In Favor Of Developmental League
At league meetings last month, there really wasn't any talk of restoring some sort of developmental league or academy. Having such a league could help the NFL address big issues that have come up recently, including officiating, technological advances and diversity in coaching and the front office.
"However, conversations with prominent coaches, executives and owners have revealed that perhaps the climate is changing, and that a developmental league or academy will be much more of a front-burner issue in 2016," wrote CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora.
Guess who would be in favor of a developmental league? It comes as no surprise that Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh would support it.
"John Madden has got me convinced that it would be great for football and for young players and young coaches and the officials," Harbaugh told La Canfora. "It would be great for the game of football. And I kind of think the league wants to do it, it's just a matter of working out the details and we'll see where it goes ...
"I don't know why it hasn't happened to this point. I think the league wants to do it. There must be something blocking it. There must be some factors that are keeping it from going in that direction, because I've never heard anybody say they don't want to do it. So I think you'd have to ask the higher-ups in the league really what's holding it up."