Ravens Expected To Pitch New Leach Contract
The Ravens are expected to craft a proposal for a restructured contract for Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Leach reportedly has one of the highest salary-cap figures on the Ravens roster with $4.33 million due in 2013 (more on that below). Ravens brass would "ideally like to lower" that number and would "gain additional financial flexibility if a compromise can be reached," says Aaron Wilson.
Some NFL teams don't carry a fullback on their roster, and even fewer carry two in today's pass-driven league. The Ravens are seemingly looking to buck that trend after drafting Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth round and potentially re-working Leach's deal.
Baltimore "would like to have both fullbacks on the roster," reports Wilson.
Leach and Juszczyk have two very different styles.
The 31-year-old veteran is regarded as the top blocking fullback in the NFL and is known for his old-school punishing style. The rookie led his Harvard team last season in receptions (52 for 706 yards) and would likely play a variety of roles in Baltimore, including lining up at fullback, tight end and H-back.
Even though blocking fullbacks like Leach are a dying bread, the Ravens' efforts to keep him on the roster show they are "valuing Leach's bruising playing style and his leadership in the locker room."
The 10-year-veteran has yet to hear from the Ravens and is "hoping that things will work out," wrote Wilson.
Leach participated in the final week of Ravens Organized Team Activities (OTAs), operating as running back Ray Rice's lead blocker yesterday. He was asked after practice about his spot on the team, and the potential for two fullbacks to make the final roster.
"We don't know," Leach said, per our own Garrett Downing. "When the situation comes, I think we'll take care of it.
"We're both still here, so we'll see how it goes. Hopefully, it can work out for both of us. If it don't, I feel like I still can play in this league and I'll have a job somewhere."
Ravens' Bargains And Highest Paid
Forbes released their 2013 list of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world, and quarterback Joe Flacco made the list at No. 13 with his reported total earnings for the year to be $36.8 million. Rice was listed at No. 33 with expected earnings of $25.8 million.
If two of the world's highest paid athletes are on the Ravens' payroll (most of their earnings come from their football salary), it makes one wonder who else makes* *up most of the $123 million salary-cap space and who the bargains are.
More than one third of the team's salary cap is paid out to five players: Flacco, Rice, Marshal Yanda, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, reported Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun. That means, the Ravens are finding plenty of value elsewhere.
"I'm not knocking [the highest paid]," Vensel wrote. "They earned their big-money contracts by performing at a high level for years, and the Ravens probably wouldn't have won their latest Lombardi Trophy if they hadn't paid those guys accordingly.
"But the Ravens also have to rely on young players and cheaper veterans to round out their roster – as is the case with the rest of the teams in the NFL. All but 10 of the players on the Ravens' 90-man roster make less than $3 million, and they are counting on major contributions from a few players who earn less than a million."
Below are seven of the Ravens' best bargains in 2013 (not necessarily the lowest paid)* *with their league experience in parenthesis, and then some of the highest-paid Ravens, per Vensel and Wilson.
Safety Michael Huff (8 years): $1.35 million cap hit
Outside linebacker Albert McClellan (3 years): $555,000 cap hit
Defensive end Pernell McPhee (3 years): $591,140 cap hit
Guard Kelechi Osemele (2 years): $760,425 cap hit
Running back Bernard Pierce (2 years): $618,986 cap hit
Wide receiver Torrey Smith (3 years): $924,336 cap hit
Kicker Justin Tucker (2 years): $480,000 cap hit
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (11 years): $13.02 million
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (8 years): $11.5 million
Guard Marshal Yanda (7 years): $7.45 million
Cornerback Lardarius Webb (5 years): $7.385 million
Quarterback Joe Flacco (6 years): $6.8 million
Running back Ray Rice (6 years): $5.75 million
Offensive tackle Michael Oher (5 years): $4.95 million
Fullback Vonta Leach (10 years): $4.33 million
Inside linebacker Jameel McClain (6 years): $4.2 million
Birk Skipped White House Visit Over Abortion Issue
Recently retired six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk didn't attend the Ravens' visit to the White House because of his political differences with President Barack Obama.
Birk, a devout Catholic and father of six, has been open about his pro-life stance and takes issue with Obama's support of Planned Parenthood.
"I wasn't there," Birk told KFAN in Minnesota. "I would say that I have great respect for the office of the Presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our President made a comment in a speech and he said, 'God bless Planned Parenthood.'
"Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the Pro-Life movement and I just felt like I couldn't deal with that. I couldn't endorse that in any way. I'm very confused by [Obama's] statement. For God to bless a place where they're ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend."
In April, Obama closed his speech at a Planned Parenthood national conference, saying "Thank you Planned Parenthood. God bless you, God bless America."
- @jeffzrebiecsun: Suggs hasn't participated in OTAs but he looks much slimmer than he did last year. Ngata looked about the same as he did this time last year [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: Ravens' one-year deal with linebacker Daryl Smith worth $1.125 million [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: Ravens' updated salary-cap figure: $3.583 million available after Daryl Smith deal [Twitter]
- Compensatory pick help … "With the Ravens signing Smith after June 1 absent a pre-June 1 tender offer from the Jags, the Jaguars won't get credit for the lost free agent, and the Ravens won’t have Smith counterbalance the departure of guys like linebacker Paul Kruger, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, and cornerback Cary Williams," wrote Mike Florio. [ProFootballTalk.com]
- Ravens linebacker Albert McClellan had offseason shoulder surgery and is expected to return by training camp. [The Baltimore Sun]
- @RavensInsider: Ravens assigned No. 51 jersey to new linebacker Daryl Smith. Smith isn't at practice today after signing yesterday [Twitter]
- @letsmove: Watch @JameelMcClain @brendon310 John Harbaugh & Joe Flacco share their favorite healthy summertime foods [Twitter]
- @BrandonW_66: Looking at my jersey and thanking God everyday that I am a Baltimore Raven #RavensNation #Blessed @akarel [Twitter]
- @TorreySmithWR: Shoutouts to my teammates for coming out and helping support my foundation [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: Cut by the Ravens, outside linebacker Michael McAdoo went unclaimed off waivers and is a free agent again [Twitter]
- Who's the biggest threat to the Ravens? Cincinnati or Pittsburgh? Debate below … [NFL Network]