Analyzing Ronnie Stanley's Reported Contract Restructure
Beyond gaining cap space, what else does the reported restructuring of All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley's contract indicate?
For one, it seems to suggest the Ravens are optimistic about Stanley returning to form after undergoing multiple ankle surgeries and playing in just seven games over the past two seasons, according to Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi.
"The aforementioned extension would seem to indicate that the Ravens are comfortable with Stanley from a health perspective otherwise, why kick the can down the road and place unnecessary future weight on the cap, right?" Lombardi wrote.
By converting $8.465 million of Stanley's base salary into a signing bonus, the Ravens created $6.34875 million in cap space for 2022, "presumably to add an edge defender, amongst other things," Lombardi wrote.
Lombardi and Russell Street Report salary cap analyst Brian McFarland also speculated that the restructuring could indicate that an extension for Lamar Jackson is not imminent.
"Creating the space by converting some of Stanley's salary to bonus is unfortunately a sign that the team does NOT expect a Lamar Jackson extension anytime soon — one that would have triggered a 2022 cap savings of approximately $10M," Lombardi wrote. "Otherwise, why take the risk with Stanley?"
On a side note, Stanley did not participate in yesterday's practice, although he was on the field doing individual drills before practice began. The Ravens will be off until Monday, meaning it will be at least several more days until Stanley's first practice since his most recent ankle surgery.
"It's really not a set timetable," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It's going to be in terms of when they tell us and when he feels like he wants to get out there and do it. He knows his ankle. I know Ronnie's very determined to be really at his very best when he comes back. I think that's kind of part of his thinking on it. I trust him with it. I know he's going to do the right thing and be out there as soon as he can. I'm hopeful sooner rather than later for sure, but he's off PUP now. You're talking about it's in the realm now where it should happen."
Sports Illustrated, Chris Simms Pick Ravens to Win AFC North
Sports Illustrated’s Gary Gramling predicts the Ravens will beat out the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in a two-team race for the AFC North crown. He has both teams going 11-6.
Here's Gramling's best case/worst case scenario for the Ravens:
Best Case: "This year health is on the Ravens' side. The defensive backfield rebounds, and Jackson connects with a young receiving group to take the next step as a passer in his fifth season. Baltimore resumes its place among the bluebloods in the top-heavy AFC."
Worst Case: "In an uncharacteristic twist, a Ravens defense is less than the sum of its parts, as the secondary is slow to jell. Too often, Baltimore falls behind early. The Ravens must scratch and claw each week simply to stay in the wild-card race."
Gramling has the Cleveland Browns (7-10) finishing third in the division and the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-11) last.
NBC Sports' Chris Simms also picked the Ravens to win the AFC North, with the Bengals making the playoffs as the top wild-card team.
The Athletic's NFL beat writers gave the nod in the AFC North to the Bengals, who received 22 votes to the Ravens' 20. The Browns got one vote.
"The defending AFC champions aren't getting a whole lot of respect in their own division," The Athletic's NFL staff wrote. "Injuries ravaged the Ravens last season, and The Athletic's experts think there will be a big bounce back from Lamar Jackson and crew this season. On the other hand, it seems surprising to see the Bengals not get that much love after their run to the Super Bowl that saw them upset the Titans and Chiefs."
Despite the beat writers going with the Bengals, The Athletic's NFL model gave the Ravens the best chance to win the division (38.6%), with the Bengals coming in at 32.4%.
Ravens' 'Triplets' Ranked in Middle of the Pack
Even though the Ravens have one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the league in Jackson, an All-Pro tight end in Mark Andrews, and a running back primed for a breakout season in J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore was only No. 14 in NFL.com’s Nick Shook’s triplets rankings.
In Shook's individual rankings, Jackson was the No. 12 quarterback, Andrews the No. 12 pass-catcher and Dobbins the No. 25 running back.
"At his best, Jackson is better than 12th among all quarterbacks. But the combination of Jackson's injury-shortened 2021 season and the state of his contract talks have added a healthy portion of uncertainty around the QB," Shook wrote. "If the Ravens can again find a way to maximize his rare talents, Jackson will outperform this ranking. But Dobbins is coming off a significant knee injury, and this offseason Jackson lost top wide receiver Marquise Brown, who said he wanted out of Baltimore. That's not exactly a comforting realization. Jackson can erase doubts by playing like he did in his MVP season of 2019, but it's going to take help from more than Andrews — a stellar tight end deserving of his ranking ahead of Travis Kelce — to get the Ravens back to the playoffs."
Three Ravens Get Votes in Awards Predictions
Several Ravens were recognized by NFL.com analysts in their predictions for the winners of the league's individual awards.
Jackson received one vote (tied for fifth) for MVP and two votes (tied for fourth) for Offensive Player of the Year. Dobbins got one vote (tied for seventh) for Comeback Player of the Year, and Harbaugh had one vote (tied for seventh) for Coach of the Year.
Another Mock Draft Has Ravens Selecting USC Wide Receiver Jordan Addison
For the second time in a week, USC wide receiver Jordan Addison has gone to the Ravens in the first round of a mock draft.
Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Hanson mocked Addison to Baltimore with the 23rd-overall pick.
"Addison posted elite production (100/1,593/17) in 2021 at Pitt. With Kenny Pickett off to the NFL, the Biletnikoff Award–winning wideout transferred to USC to play with Caleb Williams in Lincoln Riley's offense, "Hanson wrote. "While he's not the biggest or strongest receiver, Addison uses his quickness, fluidity and savvy route running to make plays at all three levels."
As noted in Late for Work last week, ESPN's Jordan Reid had the Ravens selecting Addison 19th-overall.