Next 7 Items On Ozzie's Contract To-Do List
General Manager Ozzie Newsome is always working ahead.
He managed to avoid the franchise tag drama you're seeing around the NFL right now, and he's already setting himself up to avoid it again next summer. He's crossed off two huge items from his 2016 to-do list with long-term extensions for cornerback Jimmy Smith and punter Sam Koch.
They are significant signings, but Newsome still has a lot of work ahead. The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec outlined the next seven prominent moves on the 2016 contract to-do list:
1) Restructure Joe Flacco's $120 million deal
This one promises to be the biggest attention-grabber of summer. Both sides knew negotiations would resume half way through the original six year, $120 million deal. Why? The current structure of the contract carries a $28.55 million salary cap hit in Year 3.
2) Negotiate Marshal Yanda's third Ravens contractYanda will go down as one of the best offensive linemen in Ravens history (behind Jonathan Ogden), he's showing no signs of decline at 30 years old, and he won't come cheap. "He's one of those players the Ravens want to keep for the entirety of his career," wrote Zrebiec. "But for that to happen, they will have to pony up a lot of money. Yanda has earned the right to be paid like the NFL's top guard, an honor currently held by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Logan Mankins (six years and $51 million, including $30 million guaranteed). Both sides would love to reach a deal, but there have been no indications that one is imminent."
3) Make a decision on Kelechi OsemeleAs long as he stays healthy, Osemele will get paid one way or another. Whether it's with the Ravens largely depends on what happens with Yanda. The wide consensus is that Baltimore can't keep both K.O and Yanda, and they have insurance with the recently-drafted John Urschel and Robert Myers. "Osemele is four years younger than Yanda but also dealt with a significant back injury in 2014," Zrebiec wrote. "Osemele could be the odd man out. He also could be a beneficiary if the Ravens are unable to reach a deal with Yanda. Losing their top two offensive linemen in one offseason would be tough."
4) Lock up Justin Tucker long-term, but he might want to become NFL's highest-paid kickerOnce an undrafted rookie, Tucker currently stands as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. While he's been a bargain on that rookie contract, Zrebiec believes Tucker is on his way to becoming the highest-paid kicker in the league. Will it be Baltimore that pays him? "The Ravens don't want to lose him and, at the very least, likely would place the franchise tag on the kicker next offseason before allowing him to become a true unrestricted free agent," Zrebiec wrote.
5) Monitor market for Courtney UpshawIf he can turn up the heat in the sack department, Upshaw could be the next Pernell McPhee or Art Jones or Dannell Ellerbe to get a payday elsewhere.*But if he continues his under-the-radar (and important) work as a rushing edge-setter and physical pounder, there's a chance he could stay in the Ravens' price range. Says Zrebiec: "It's unclear what sort of market Upshaw will have and what kind of contract he'll demand, but he could become the latest in a long line of Ravens defensive players to get a big payday elsewhere."
* 6) Determine risk-reward for Will Hill **This is a big year for the Ravens safety, who has the size and talent to succeed in the backfield, but has allowed off-the-field issues to get in his way. Baltimore scooped him up when the New York Giants cut him following three suspensions for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. While in Baltimore, Hill has conducted himself well off the field, but "The jury is still out on Hill," says Zrebiec. "[G]iven his off-field history, he'd be a risky candidate for a lucrative, long-term commitment. His play and conduct this year could go a long way."
7) Keep tabs on seven other potential free agentsThey won't get as much attention in the press, but Newsome will keep an eye on seven more potential 2016 free agents: long snapper Morgan Cox, cornerback Asa Jackson, linebacker Albert McClellan, offensive lineman Jah Reid, quarterback Matt Schaub and defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson.
To Fans Who Question Koch Contract Extension …
Koch took less money to stay with the Ravens than he probably could have gotten in free agency had he tested the market next summer, but some Ravens fans still thought the team committed too much money to the punter, especially considering the other pending free agents that need to be re-signed.
To those fans, Zrebiec spells out why this move was the right one.
"I heard from some Ravens fans who questioned the team's move last week to make a long-term commitment … when the team is going to need all the salary cap space it can get next offseason," Zrebiec wrote. "My response is that Koch is one of the steadiest, most reliable and most respected players in the Ravens locker room. And he's been damn good at what he does for a long time. The Ravens don't ask Koch to boom 60-yard punts down the middle of the field -- they ask him to nullify opposing return games and pin the opposition inside the 20-yard line with his directional punts toward the sideline.
"To suggest that the Ravens could've just invested a fifth or sixth-round pick in a college punter next offseason when Koch was initially due to hit free agency, and they wouldn't miss a beat, is a bit optimistic and lacks an understanding of how good the team's veteran punter has been at his various roles."
Would You Trade Jah Reid For Dez Bryant?
That's the word to describe the situation between Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys right now, and it's playing out in a very public way. Bryant is threating to skip training camp and regular-season games until he gets his mega-deal, while the Cowboys are calling his bluff.
No team wants that sort of cloud hanging over them, but you'd probably be willing to take it on knowing that, in the end, it meant you had one of the best NFL receivers* *on your roster. My guess is Ravens fans would be willing to endure the drama, and they would be willing to trade Jah Reid for it.
Why Reid? Because that's who the Ravens drafted with their 2011 third-round pick that Newsome was reportedly unwilling to trade to the New England Patriots to move up one spot (in 2010) to nab Bryant.
"Phone lines were burning up," wrote Russell Street Report's Tony Lombardi. "The Ravens believed the Patriots demands were too pricey just to move up one spot. Moments later the Patriots dealt the pick to the Cowboys in exchange for the No. 27 overall and the Cowboys third-round pick, No. 90 overall. To balance the deal the Patriots gave up their fourth round pick, No. 119 overall.
"What might have been?"
Lombardi wonders whether Bryant would have been more or less productive in Baltimore than Dallas. He wonders whether the Ravens would have still been the winners of Super Bowl XLVII. He's almost positive that Torrey Smith wouldn't have been drafted the following year. And maybe Steve Smith Sr. never would have been signed.
"Oh how the choices we all make can redirect lives and affect the future…," wrote Lombardi. "Today if Bryant was a Raven, he would more than likely be Ozzie's contractual headache. Instead he's Jerry Jones'."
Texas Kicker Boots 80-Yard Field Goal … Could Tucker Do That? It looks like Texas has another kicker with a BIG leg.
Longhorn kicker Nick Rose booted an amazing 80-yard field goal at practice, and made it look like it was easy splitting the uprights right down the middle.
The video above quickly went viral, and Tucker, a proud Texas alum, definitely saw it but didn't offer much in terms of a reaction. Our own Ryan Mink – who coincidently is going to meet Tucker in Patterson Park today for a kicking session – issued a challenge.
Best Newcomer To AFC North? When the AFC North reporters at ESPN were asked who will be the best newcomer to the division, one person was named more often than anyone else: first-round Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman.
Here's why Jamison Hensley like Perriman:
"Perriman is coming into the best situation of any newcomer in the division. Perriman is going to start immediately and he fills a big need as the team's best deep threat after Torrey Smith signed with the 49ers in free agency. The biggest knock on Perriman is his inconsistency catching the ball. But he has the size and speed to be an impact playmaker.
"The Ravens are certainly going to get him the ball with a strong-armed quarterback like Flacco. He gives his receivers the chance to win one-on-one matchups deep, and the statistics back that up. Last year, Flacco threw 69 passes that went 30 yards or longer in the air. Only Drew Brees attempted more. Perriman is an excellent fit for Flacco and the Ravens."