Will Ravens Pursue Free-Agent Tight End Gary Barnidge?
Late For Work is back. If you were concerned about its absence last week, don't worry. It was just a one-week hiatus because the organization closed the offices for the Fourth of July holiday.
Now on to what we missed during the off time…
Tight end is suddenly a thin position for the Ravens after Dennis Pitta's hip injury and Darren Waller's year-long suspension. Benjamin Watson (Achilles), Maxx Williams (knee) and Crockett Gillmore (hamstring) are all working their way back from injuries, and there is speculation among some media members that the Ravens may tap into the free-agent market by signing former Browns tight end Gary Barnidge.
"The Baltimore Ravens present a compelling case for pursuing Barnidge," wrote NFL.com's Tyler Horka.
If the Ravens are interested in Barnidge, they are still waiting to make their move. The free agent told PressBox Online's Glenn Clark on July 6 that he hasn't heard from Baltimore.
"They have to call my agent. They know who to call and who to contact and all of that stuff," Barnidge said. "I just know we haven't heard anything yet, which is fine.
"I am in no hurry. I'm staying in shape. I'm ready, I'll be ready when that call comes. I'm in no rush right now."
Barnidge, 32, is an intriguing option if the Ravens want to add a durable veteran.
He put up big numbers for Cleveland the last two seasons, particularly in 2015 when he caught 79 passes for 1,043 yards and nine touchdowns. His stats dipped last season, but he still caught 55 passes for 612 yards and two touchdowns. All that production came from a carousel of passers, as the Browns used eight quarterbacks the last two years.
Barnidge has also put up some of his best performances in front of Baltimore, catching 20 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown in his last four games against the Ravens.
Despite his recent success, Barnidge has sat on the open market since Cleveland released him April 28. The 10-year veteran suggested that his age might be what has kept some teams away.
"One thing that people always talk about is your age, your age, your age," he said. "They talked about it two years ago, they talked about it last year. And my age has not done anything. I've still been able to produce at my age – no slowing down."
Barnidge has received interest from a few teams, and he took a visit to the Buffalo Bills last month. He indicated that he may not sign with a team until closer to training camp or even after it begins.
"I know what I have to do to be ready," Barnidge said. "I think teams understand that. They understand that I'm a vet, I know how things have to go. I know how my body has to go, and what I have to go through. And I think they understand that too, so that's why they're not really that worried either. They know, 'OK, he can come and contribute right away if they need him, when that time comes.'"
Orr's Agent No Longer Commenting on Free-Agent Visits
Former Ravens linebacker Zachary Orr is another big-name free agent currently waiting to get signed. Just five months after being forced to retire because of a congenital spine condition, the All-Pro linebacker announced his plans to continue his career after consulting with more doctors.
He visited with the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions in the days after his announcement, and his agent, Rob Sheets, did a handful of interviews around that time. As Orr continues to meet with teams on his free-agent tour, Sheets said they plan to keep quiet in the press.
"We, as a team, have decided not to comment on any further visits," Sheets wrote on Twitter. "We have several more visits lined up over the next two weeks. Most of you in the media are very good at what you do. I would advise that you simply hang around your respective team headquarters. There is a greater than 50/50 chance [Orr] will be there soon."
It's unknown if the Ravens will try to re-sign Orr, or if he will even get clearance by any team doctors to resume his career.
"For Orr, the challenge continues to be finding a doctor (or more than one) employed by a team that wants to employ Orr who won't sound the alarm," wrote Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio. "In this climate of heightened sensitivity to player health and safety, who's going to put his or her name on the bottom of the document that authorizes Orr to walk into the potentially enhanced risk of serious injury or death?"
Weddle Named Ravens' Top Broadcasting Prospect
The Ravens have some recent history of sending players to the broadcasting ranks after their playing careers. Ray Lewis went straight to ESPN after he retired and now works for Fox Sports 1. Ed Reed appeared on *Inside the NFL *before transitioning to coaching. Chris Canty hosts a radio show in New York City. Steve Smith Sr. is now employed by the NFL Network.
Who's the next Raven-turned-broadcaster?
ESPN picked the best broadcasting prospect for every team in the league, and safety Eric Weddle was the Ravens' selection.
"He always provides tremendous insight as well as the big picture to reporters following games," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Considered the quarterback of the defense, Weddle not only understands the game but is able to convey his knowledge succinctly, especially when breaking down a pivotal play in the game. The biggest challenge Weddle will face when transitioning from the field to being in front of the camera will involve keeping his beard trimmed every week."
Former Raven Sheppard Opens Juice Bar in Owings Mills
Another post-playing career option is to start a business, and that's exactly what former Ravens receiver Gerrard Sheppard has decided to do.
The Towson University product recently opened the Sunset Raw Juice Bar at Foundry Row in Owings Mills. The juice bar sells cold-pressed juices, smoothies, acai bowls, wellness shots, and juice cleanse packages.
Sheppard, who attended McDonough High School, spent the 2013 season on Baltimore's practice squad. He spent training camp with the Green Bay Packers in 2014, and also played in the Canadian Football League.