Five Potential Candidates For Contract Extensions With Ravens
After wrapping up kicker Justin Tucker's long-term deal last week, the Ravens actually cleared more salary-cap space and can now focus their attention on the next person in line for an extension, if they so desire.
Instead of Tucker playing under the $4.572 million franchise tag, his new deal will reportedly only count $3.5 million against the cap in 2016. That gives the Ravens an unusually high $13.3 million to spend before training camp even begins.
"The Ravens could still try to get a deal or two done before the season begins," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Who are the candidates for renewed contracts?
According to Spotrac.com, the Ravens will have 17 unrestricted free agents next offseason, but Zrebiec sees five realistic candidates for now: defensive tackle Brandon Williams, wide receiver Kamar Aiken, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, right tackle Rick Wagner and defensive end Lawrence Guy.
Other scheduled free agents, including safety Matt Elam, quarterback Ryan Mallett, linebacker Arthur Brown and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. didn't make the list. Zrebiec is assuming Smith will retire after the season.
*Brandon Williams: The most obvious candidate, but most expensive *"[I]t figures to take a hefty offer – or Williams' complete disregard or disinterest for what may be out there for him on the open market after the season – to get a deal done, a fact essentially acknowledged by owner Steve Bisciotti in May," Zrebiec wrote.
"This offseason, defensive tackle Malik Jackson got a six-year, $85.5 million deal from the Jacksonville Jaguars and nose tackle Damon Harrison signed a five-year, $46.25 million pact with the New York Giants. With the salary cap likely to go up again next offseason, Williams is going to become a very rich man with another good season. He has embraced being a Raven on and off the field, so he might ultimately re-sign with the team. It just makes little sense for him from a business perspective to do it now."
What about using the franchise tag on Williams?
The price tag for franchised nose tackles will rise from the $13.615 million it cost this year, which Zrebiec thinks is too high for the Ravens to absorb.
*Kamar Aiken: Time to revisit contract talks? *"The Ravens kicked the tires on an Aiken extension earlier this offseason, but the talks never gained traction," Zrebiec wrote. "They could ultimately be revisited. The Ravens believe he is an ascending player and Aiken loves it in Baltimore."
*Rick Wagner: Young draft picks could change his future in Baltimore. *"[M]y guess is the Ravens used a fourth-round pick on Alex Lewis with the expectation he'll replace Wagner next year," says Zrebiec. "Wagner is the type of player the Ravens draft, develop and then watch get a big free-agent deal elsewhere while they collect a compensatory pick in return."
*Kyle Juszczyk: What is his role with so many tight ends? *Zrebiec didn't comment much about whether Juszczyk will get a new deal (other than to say he's a candidate for an extension), but he did talk a lot about the fullback's role potentially shrinking.
"Somebody is going to have to come off the field in these multi-tight end sets that will feature some combination of Crockett Gillmore, Benjamin Watson, Maxx Williams and perhaps Dennis Pitta," Zrebiec wrote. "The other side of that is the Ravens have prioritized getting their running game going this year, so you'd think that would lead to Juszczyk being on the field. The former Harvard standout is not in danger of not making the team -- the breadth of his role is just a question mark. He's a good special teams player at the very least and a nice safety blanket for quarterback Joe Flacco."
*Lawrence Guy: His future will also be affected by younger draft picks. *While Zrebiec named Guy as a potential candidate for an extension, ESPN's Jamison Hensley sees the defensive end's starting job in jeopardy this year.
"He is one of Baltimore's more underrated players and proved he can more than hold his own in six starts last season when he filled in for Chris Canty," wrote Hensley. "To be a full-time starter for the first time in his seven-year career, Guy will have to hold off two players – Brent Urban and Bronson Kaufusi – the Ravens drafted with the hope of eventually becoming starters. Urban and Kaufusi will push Guy if they can remain healthy."
Cam Newton Crashed Inner Harbor Beach Volleyball
It looks like the league's Most Valuable Player was in Baltimore this week … playing volleyball.
That's right, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and some of his teammates unexpectedly showed up at Baltimore Beach Volleyball men's and women's league in the Inner Harbor at about 8:30 p.m. Monday night, according to SouthBMore.com.
Newton and his teammates are in town this week to work out at the Under Armour facilities downtown, and they asked if they could participate in four-on-four games against players from Baltimore Beach's Men's 2A League.
Per the report, Newton played for about an hour and posed for pictures throughout the night.
People at the event posted lots of pictures and videos on social media, and the one of Newton getting blocked by a female volleyball player might be my favorite.
Only Three Teams Spent More Guaranteed Money Than Ravens Since Super Bowl
The Ravens made Tucker the NFL's highest-paid kicker in terms of guaranteed money, which marked a continuation of a trend since winning Super Bowl XLVII.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Baltimore has spent $132.5 million in guaranteed money since that time. That's the fourth-most guaranteed money shelled out by a team in the league, putting the Ravens only behind the Philadelphia Eagles ($195.1 million), New York Giants ($141.5 million) and Denver Broncos ($138.9 million).
This offseason alone, Baltimore spent $103 million guaranteed on eight players.
"The spending spree addressed many of the Ravens' priorities this offseason," wrote Hensley. "Baltimore extended its Super Bowl-winning quarterback, found a new left tackle, added a veteran leader in the secondary, brought in more speed at wide receiver and retained the NFL's second-most accurate kicker for the long term.
"The Ravens can only hope that the big bucks doled out the last five months will reap immediate dividends after a 5-11 season, their worst under coach John Harbaugh."
Two Former Ravens Looked For Work With Redskins
Two former Ravens – wide receiver Marlon Brown and quarterback Jimmy Clausen – are looking to land a job with NFL training camps opening next week.
They both got a look on Monday from our neighbors, the Washington Redskins.
"Brown is the one that intrigues me the most if the Redskins like his workout and sign him to the team," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Evan Mazza. "In his 2013 rookie year Brown caught 49 passes for 524 yards and 7 touchdowns, but has fallen off a cliff in the last two seasons. The talent is there for Brown and the Redskins might believe that Cousins, head coach Jay Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay can bring the talent that Brown showed in his rookie campaign and contribute for the Redskins and their offense."
The Redskins instead signed wide receiver Dez Stewart, who played college at Ohio Dominican and had a brief stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May.