Suggs and Lewis Weigh in With Strong Opinions on Kaepernick
Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti said Sunday that the team has reached out to current and former players, including retired linebacker Ray Lewis, to gauge how the locker room would receive polarizing quarterback Colin Kaepernick if inked to a contract.
Bisciotti didn't divulge what those players said, however.
Since then, several have spoken publicly about their stance, and some have rather strong opinions on the matter. Not surprisingly, team leader Terrell Suggs put it in the strongest, and simplest, of terms.
"Hell yeah, if he's going to help us win," Suggs told ESPN when asked if he'd welcome Kaepernick in Baltimore. "We have no issues. Not in the locker room. Hell yeah, we want him."
Acceptance was the theme as more and more players were approached on the topic.
"I would love to have him to come challenge some other quarterbacks," said defensive back Lardarius Webb, per ESPN. "We all know Joe is our guy. We love Mallett. But yeah, we all would like competition around here to make everyone better."
Fourteen-year veteran Benjamin Watson had already addressed Kaepernick's kneeling in a Facebook post last September, saying that he stands during the national anthem to symbolize he's fighting against "all injustice and to preserve the greatest attributes of the country, including Colin Kaepernick's right to kneel."
Thus, it's not surprising to hear that Watson would be accepting of Kaepernick. Watson also noted how the composition of the Ravens organization allows for individual expression even if there's disagreement.
"This locker room is one where everybody has a respect for other people when they don't have the same point of view," Watson told ESPN. "There are a lot of strong personalities. One thing I noticed before I got to the Ravens, I heard the Ravens organization would allow you to be yourself. That's the culture that's here.
"We don't have to beat around the bush, obviously a lot of people have strong opinions about him. I think we have to be careful not to condemn him personally or hate him personally because of his point of view."
In the Fox Sports video below, Lewis was asked what he told Bisciotti when he called seeking advice. Lewis was adamant that the criteria for which one makes this decision is solely based on two things:
- How long will Joe Flacco (back) be sidelined?
- Will Kaepernick help the Ravens win games?
Lewis said it wouldn't be worth the risk if Flacco is only going to miss training camp or preseason games. He declined to say whether Kaepernick would be a better insurance policy than Mallett, saying that's why teams bring in several players at each position to evaluate those questions, and this should be no different.
Lewis and former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe engaged in a passionate debate about the role NFL owners play in addressing what Kaepernick is protesting, including police brutality. Lewis confirmed the Ravens also reached out to him to discuss other controversial issues, including when they signed Donte Stallworth.
Why Lewis Still Captivates Baltimore
From the outside looking in, some people didn't understand why Bisciotti would reach out to Lewis to get his opinion on Kaepernick in the first place. Why is Lewis' view on the whole situation important to Bisciotti?
Well, ESPN and former Baltimore Sun writer Kevin Van Valkenburg took to Twitter to try to explain why the Ravens would seek him out, why that's a smart move and why it's to Kaepernick's benefit.
Van Valkenburg posted around 20 tweets on the topic, which you can read entirely on his Twitter feed, and I've pulled out a few below.
Does Yesterday's Quarterback Transaction Indicate Flacco is Healthy?
The Ravens announced Monday that they signed quarterback Josh Woodrum, taking the roster spot of former arena league quarterback David Olson, who was on the team for just three days.
Woodrum came into the league as an undrafted free agent last year and has already been signed and released by the New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills.
"That resume is one of a camp arm, which suggests that the team shares Flacco's hope that a little rest will clear up what the quarterback described as stiffness in his back," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Josh Alper.
It would be nice if Alper's assumption is correct. We just don't know yet.
"The move doesn't preclude the Ravens from signing Kaepernick or another experienced quarterback," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Here's What's Working in Mallett's Favor if He Faces Competition From Kaepernick
If the Ravens sign Kaepernick, Mallett will want to up his game to show he deserves to be Flacco's primary backup. Hensley demonstrated Kaepernick's stats are better than Mallett's, but pointed out the current Ravens quarterback has a lot going for him too.
"What's working in Mallett's favor is a big victory over a division rival, his style of play and his guaranteed money," Hensley wrote. "Mallett's only win for the Ravens was a major upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers in December 2015. He threw 274 yards and one touchdown that should build emotional cache for a franchise.
"Mallett also is a pocket quarterback in the same vein as Flacco. The Ravens wouldn't have to change the offense if Mallett had to step in for Flacco, although mobile quarterback Tyrod Taylor was Flacco's backup for four seasons. Plus, Mallett received $1 million in guaranteed money when he re-signed with Baltimore in March. That isn't much in NFL dollars – it ranks 44th among quarterbacks this year – but it counts more for a team with limited cap space and an already big sum of dead money. The argument is the Ravens should use their remaining cap space on the offensive line and a blocker who can protect Flacco instead of another quarterback."
- Gregg Rosenthal takes a look at some of the winners and losers of the opening of training camp. "No team had a worse first week of training camp than the Baltimore Ravens," Rosenthal wrote. "From a season-ending injury to the team's most talented running back (Kenneth Dixon) to injury clusters at tight end and cornerback to a second early retirement of the offseason (center John Urschel, who exits the stage six months after LB Zach Orr), the Ravens have already hit Bad-Camp-News Bingo. But Joe Flacco's back injury is what should be keeping coach John Harbaugh's staff up at night." [NFL.com]
- "Cornerback Brandon Carr insists he doesn't have an explanation for his ability to start 144 consecutive games over his first nine professional seasons, the sixth-longest streak among active NFL players," wrote Jeff Zrebiec. "Whether it's God's will, good fortune, great preparation and work ethic or a combination of all of them, Carr isn't questioning it. He just hopes it continues in his new NFL home." [The Baltimore Sun]