After several relatively quiet weeks for the Baltimore Ravens, the past seven days or so have had much more news and activity.
The Ray Rice Situation – Unlike many who write sports blogs and provide team coverage, I greatly dislike the off-the-field drama that seems to transpire more than it had ought to in every sport. I would much rather just project and anticipate what can happen competitively, and then react to and analyze what did happen on the field of play. So I’m not going say much beyond pointing out that once again, little good comes from high-profile athletes hanging out in casinos and bars with the attendant liquid refreshment and cast of nearby unseemly characters. Apparently there is more to the story than is publicly known – there always is, and to comment much is to be a fool.
There appear to be varied trains of thought as to the potential fallout of this in terms of suspension and the disposition the Ravens will need to take upon an appropriate response to the situation. In the big picture, it seems to me that Ray Rice’s greater problems for football are health, fitness, and weight-related … along with what kind of offensive line and new scheme by a new offensive coordinator can be put together.
LATE BREAKING NEWS>> RAVENS WR DEONTE THOMPSON HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA BY THE GAINESVILLE POLICE. So, more good news for the Ravens. Geez.
The NFL Salary Cap Increase – There is news now of a cap increase from $123 million to $130 million. I agree with the variety of writers who observe that this will help the Ravens more than the average team, though again, every franchise benefits and the price of everything correspondingly rises as well. This may allow the Ravens to retain a couple potential salary cap casualties – like fullback Vonta Leach, tackle Eugene Monroe, or linebacker Daryl Smith. Along with providing room for whatever needs to be done to keep Dennis Pitta, the retention of the three aforementioned players seems prudent to me. But I’m not on board with keeping Michael Oher also, as seems to be the hope of John Harbaugh who said of retaining the two tackles, “It just depends on the numbers. It all comes down to the math. We’ve got more salary-cap space, I think we found out yesterday, so that makes it a little brighter situation. As a coach, I would love to do that. I would love to see that happen.” No, it is time to move someone up or go to the draft or whatever. There has to be a cheaper and more effective way to make the new offense run. There needs to be change on the offensive line.
Draft Speculations – At this point the Ravens have picks in the first, second, third, and sixth rounds, since the fourth and fifth rounds are gone in a trade to Jacksonville for Eugene Monroe. The NFL Scouting Combine has been happening over the past couple of days. There continues to be increasingly more talk about a tight end being a target for the Ravens, as this position is critical to the structure of the new offense. Eric Ebron of North Carolina is the consensus as the top tight end in the draft, and he gets linked to the Ravens in many mock drafts. But as we’ve written before here on The Baltimore Wire, we fear he will be gone perhaps in the top 10 picks.
Speaking of picks and where the Ravens fall, it is now officially at #17 – having lost a coin flip with the Dallas Cowboys for #16. If it weren’t for bad luck this past week, the Ravens would have no luck at all. However, this draft class is deep in some prime areas of need for the Ravens – tackles and wide receivers. I guess that is good luck.
The Ray Rice scenario also draws into the discussion the name of local Towson star running back Terrence West, who is projected to be about a third-round pick. He is the sort of back that would fit the scheme, though the perception he will need to overcome is that his great success was in the FCS and not with the more powerful larger-school division. In the absence of Rice, depending upon the frequently-injured surgery-recovering Bernard Pierce is a bit scary, so the Ravens look to need to make a draft of a running back. The Terrence West angle would be a nice story were it to all come together.
Terrell Suggs Four-Year Contract Extension – Announced early this week, Suggs looks to be a Raven for life. The coming season was the final contract year for the 31-year-old outside linebacker, so this deal will carry through the end of 2018. Having played his entire 12-year career in Baltimore, he was the #10 overall pick in 2003. Though his sack total has declined a bit, his total tackles remain a strength, as does his team leadership. He was again a Pro Bowl selection – for the sixth time in his career. The contract deal is worth a reported $28.5 million. These high-dollar, long-term signings to veterans in all sports seem to more often than not come back to haunt an organization, but it looks like the right thing to do in this case; and the structuring of the arrangement gave cap space to the team that may be used beneficially elsewhere.
Between the Orioles and Ravens, it was a week of full sports page news.