Don't Get Hopes Up For Jeffery, Forte Trades
The word out of Chicago is the Bears are amidst a major roster overhaul and rebuilding mode for 2016 after their 0-3 start. The trades of veterans Jared Allen and Jon Bostic this week are just the beginning, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Who could be next?
"The Bears have a pair of high-profile offensive players to shop: Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery. Both are scheduled to be free agents after this season," wrote ESPN Chicago reporter Jeff Dickerson. "Forte, 29, became expendable the moment in January when general manager Ryan Pace rebuffed his request for a new contract.
"Why listen to trade offers for [Jeffery]? Because there's no guarantee Jeffery wants to re-sign with the Bears in the offseason. … Everything needs to be on the table for the Bears."
It didn't take long for speculation – not reports – to begin about General Manager Ozzie Newsome at least picking up the phone and having a conversation with the Bears.
After all, Baltimore is 1) in need of a playmaker outside of Steve Smith Sr., 2) still missing Breshad Perriman, 3) off to a slow start in the rushing game and 4) has Marc Trestman, who knows Bears players better than anyone after being their head coach for two years.
Kevin Van Valkenburg, formerly of The Baltimore Sun, makes a good point. The Ravens seem to need most help either in the secondary or pass-rush department. Besides, Forte carries a reported $7.05 million 2015 base salary with him. According to Spotrac.com, the Ravens have an estimated $3.38 million left in cap space. They simply can't afford him.
And, as Turron Davenport of The Baltimore Times wrote, the Ravens "already have [money] invested in [Justin] Forsett."
There's a bigger cry to explore Jeffery, a 2013 Pro Bowler while playing under Trestman. Jeffery put up more than 1,000 yards each year that Trestman was in charge in Chicago.
In terms of salary cap room this year, Jeffery makes more sense with a $960,157 base salary, per Spotrac.com. It's so low because this is the final season that Jeffery will play on his rookie contract.
But the Ravens would have the same issue as the Bears if a trade were to happen. Unless the Ravens work out a long-term deal to go along with the trade – like they did with Anquan Boldin – Jeffery would hit the free-agent market after this season in prime position to command big money.
Fans can dream of Jeffery helping replace Smith after he retires and playing next to Perriman. But as of right now, that's all it is, a dream.
Even if the Ravens were interested in Jeffery, Baltimore Beatdown's Nathan Beaucage doesn't see the Bears actually parting ways with him. Instead of being on the trading block, Beaucage sees Jeffery as a building block in Chicago.
"Unfortunately, that's just wishful thinking," he wrote. "Ravens fans desperately wanting another receiving threat may just have to wait for next year's draft, as Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome doesn't exactly have a past track record of mid-season deals. In the meantime, the debut of rookie Breshad Perriman may help to alleviate the concerns of worried fans."
Perriman 'Strangest' Injury Of Year
The MMQB's Peter King was present for the Ravens' first day of training camp and heard Head Coach John Harbaugh say that Perriman would be out a couple of days after injuring his knee.
Of course, Harbaugh was only relaying what he was told by doctors, but more than two months later, Perriman is still absent. He briefly returned to practice last week, but has not participated so far this week.
King's tweet was in reference to the latest twist in Perriman's status. Several media members saw Perriman pull up lame in pregame warmups on Sunday while running a route into the end zone. The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec asked Harbaugh about it last night.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Harbaugh repeated three times when asked about a possible setback just as many times.
Smith Not Going Down Without A Fight
People are always asking which players give locker room motivational speeches now that Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and even Terrell Suggs aren't there.
He's only been in Baltimore for a little more than a year, but would it surprise anyone to learn that 15-year veteran receiver Smith speaks up ? MMQB's Robert Klemko relayed some of what Smith said to his teammates after Sunday's loss to the Bengals.
"'Some of them just like being on the f------ team!' Smith barked as he speed-walked through the tunnel, stomping his feet on the carpet.
"When the locker room doors were closed, the veteran wideout addressed his teammates about personal accountability. Look in the mirror. Take ownership of your own performance, of this team, of this season. Pull your own @#$%&^$ weight."
The Ravens are off to an 0-3 start in Smith's final NFL season, but Klemko says Smith isn't going down without a fight.
"If coach John Harbaugh is overseeing the reconstruction of the locker room and General Manager Ozzie Newsome is staffing it, then Steve Smith is its foreman," wrote Klemko.
"When Steve Smith arrived in Baltimore last season after spending the previous 13 with the Panthers, he was something of a stranger when he joined this locker room. Now he's the trusted vet tying up loose ends and trying to mend a rapidly fraying morale."
Bedard: Flacco Needs To Start Delivering Late
Sports Illustrated's Greg A. Bedard, who picked the Ravens to win the Super Bowl, is honing in on quarterback Joe Flacco as the person to get his team out of a hole.
Sure, Bedard acknowledges that when a team is winless at this point, there is more than one thing going wrong. Obviously the loss of Suggs, left tackle Eugene Monroe and top draft pick Perriman are major factors.
"There's another issue, however, that hasn't gotten enough attention," wrote Bedard. "While he hasn't been a big part of the problem and some of the other issues negatively affect him, quarterback Joe Flacco just hasn't been good enough.
"If you're getting paid an average of $20 million, you're supposed to be able to mask some of the other deficiencies on your team. Flacco's not doing it."
Bedard points to the last four games dating back to the Ravens' divisional round playoff loss to the New England Patriots. In each, Flacco had the ball in his hands late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win, and he's 0-for-4 in those opportunities.
To be fair, Flacco had already put together what could have been game-winning drives in some of those games, but the defense lost those leads and put Flacco in tough spots to do it again.
That happened last week, when he led the offense on a nine-play, 79-yard touchdown drive with less than four minutes remaining. The offense put up 10 points in the fourth quarter against Oakland to take the lead, only for the defense to give it up again. And let's not forget the pair of 14 points leads against New England.
"Flacco isn't the big problem in the Ravens' 0–3 start … But when you're paid as much as Flacco is, you're expected to lift the team to a few wins while the rest of the roster figures things out," wrote Bedard.
"The bottom line is that Flacco has had a chance to do just that in each of the Ravens' first three games, and he hasn't gotten the job done in any of them. It's a trend that isn't just an aberration because it happened last season as well. But it needs to end if the Ravens have any hope of climbing out of their 0–3 hole."