Agent Says Justin Tucker Vows Not To Re-Sign With Ravens If He Plays On Tag
Publicly, the negotiations between the Ravens and kicker Justin Tucker have been positive and full of optimism.
That changed Thursday night.
Tucker's agent, Rob Roche, told ESPN that the kicker is becoming so frustrated with negotiations that if a long-term deal isn't reached by today's 4 p.m. deadline, then he "vows" not to re-sign with the Ravens after this season.
"Justin's disillusioned with the process right now and the Ravens' position with him on his contract," Roche told Adam Schefter. "If we don't get a long-term deal done by Friday, Justin will not entertain offers from [the] Ravens after the season."
Per the report, the reason things quickly turned sour is because the Ravens' latest offer was less than prior ones and less than the four-year, $16.1 million deal Packers kicker Mason Crosby received.
That's about a million less than the four-year, $17.2 million contract extension given to Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who is the NFL's highest paid at the position. The media has talked this offseason about Tucker potentially surpassing Gostkowski.
Despite the vow, the Ravens have the option to keep Tucker in Baltimore beyond 2016.
They can use the franchise tag multiple times on Tucker, each year becoming more costly to do so. The first tag will cost $4.57 million and next year's tag would be approximately $5.4 million. It continues to go up so astronomically from there, that a third tag is possible but unlikely.
This is such a different tone from what we're used to hearing from Tucker that some analysts chalked it up to a negotiating ploy by his agent. To date, Tucker has always expressed optimism a deal would be reached and even told The Baltimore Sun that it's a matter of "when" not "if."
Even though things look bleak with just a few hours before the deadline, the Ravens' franchise tag history shows there's still a decent chance that a multi-year deal is struck by 4 p.m.
The Ravens have cut it extremely close before.
In 2011, Baltimore and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata made an agreement a few hours ahead of the deadline. And it was even tighter with running back Ray Rice in 2012, when a contract was struck less than 10 minutes before 4 p.m. There was doubt something would get done in both scenarios.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome has motivation to solidify the future of the position now, but he also has plenty of cap space to absorb Tucker's franchise tag salary if the price on a long-term deal isn't right.
"One of the team's most confident players, Tucker would hardly be spooked by playing the season under the franchise tag and trying to prove that his price tag is only getting higher going forward," wrote The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "But Tucker has said all along that his goal is a long-term agreement with the Ravens.
"…The Ravens don't comment on negotiations with players, and it will be interesting to see how the franchise reacts to Roche's ultimatum."
What Happens When NFL Greats Leave Franchises That Made Them Famous?
In Baltimore, we witnessed something rare.
Two NFL greats – Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden – both started and finished their Hall of Fame careers with Baltimore. But so many other greats are forced into late-career changes after becoming famous with their first franchise, including Jerry Rice, Joe Montana and Emmitt Smith.
Robert Mays of The Ringer revisited some of these late moves, looking at the motivation behind the changes and how successful players were after trading in uniforms.
Turns out, several recent examples include the Ravens. Mays divided them into four categories:
Category 1: Being dealt away for assets (see Brett Favre, Anquan Boldin and Haloti Ngata)
Category 2: Leaving on angry terms (see Steve Smith Sr. and Eric Weddle)
Category 3: Departing with a sad goodbye (see Peyton Manning)
Category 4: Going to a contender (see lots of players flocking to New England)
In terms of Boldin, the Ravens hit it out of the park when they traded for him in 2010. He became the leader of the wide receiving corps and helped the franchise win a second Lombardi Trophy in 2012.
"With Larry Fitzgerald then midway through a four-year, $45 million deal, it was tough for the Cardinals to rationalize lumping another $8 million a year onto their wide receiver bill," wrote Mays. "And it's hard to blame them for lacking the foresight to know that Boldin was created to outlive us all, catching 65 passes a season until he shuffles off this mortal coil and spends eternity orbiting Earth in his rocket coffin."
In 2013, the Ravens did just what the Cardinals did and traded Boldin away for assets.
"[T]he Ravens have long had a tendency to flip players near the ends of their contracts for assets. For as long as general manager Ozzie Newsome and assistant GM Eric DeCosta have been in charge in Baltimore, the Ravens have been the kings of allowing midtier players on expiring deals to be overpaid elsewhere while reaping the compensation-pick benefits. Last March, when Newsome couldn't convince defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to trim his salary and provide the franchise with some much-needed cap relief, the GM sent Ngata to the Lions for fourth- and fifth-round picks."
So far, the Ravens have benefited greatly from Smith's exit from Carolina. He vowed "blood and guts" when he played his former team in 2014, and made good on his promise by catching seven balls for 139 yards and two touchdowns in that Ravens victory over Carolina. He finished the season with 79 receptions and more than 1,000 yards. He was on pace to exceed that last year before going down with an Achilles injury.
Could Baltimore get a similar return on their investment from Weddle, who also left his previous city on not-so-happy terms?
"The revenge play is historically a mixed bag, but the Ravens hope that Eric Weddle, whom they signed in March after he'd spent nine years in San Diego, provides value closer to Smith than to [Andre] Johnson," Mays wrote.
No Players Selected In 2016 NFL Supplemental Draft
Did you even know there was an NFL Supplement Draft going on yesterday before it was announced that nobody was selected?
Didn't think so.
That's because there were no big names in the draft and it lasted less than 15 minutes.
Per NFL Media, the players who were eligible for the draft were Virginia Tech long snapper Eddie D'Antuono, Purdue defensive lineman Ra'Zahn Howard, Sam Houston State running back Jalen Overstreet, Ole Miss cornerback Tee Shepard, wide reciever Rashaun Simonise of Calgary, Canada, and Concordia (Ala.) defensive end Cameron Walton.
All six players became free agents after the draft and can sign with any team that is interested. This marks the third time in the past four years that no player was selected in the supplemental draft.