Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ozzie Newsome needs to fly where Eagles dare

My colleague Dev Panchwagh suggested recently that the Ravens will soon need to start thinking about an extension for Haloti Ngata. Inherent in that thought process is a strategy the takes away the risk of losing a desirable player like Ngata to a team willing to overpay.

By restructuring prior to the end of a contract’s term, teams can get value oftentimes by locking up their key players early. For the team, such a strategy takes away the financial risk of free agency and competitors lurking with ample cap space, thus preserving the franchise’s cap structure. From the player’s perspective, it provides long-term security in exchange for the potential upside of the open market.

The Philadelphia Eagles are a team that employs this strategy successfully. It has helped them to remain competitive while efficiently managing the cap. You might question how they’ve employed their cap space, shelling out Benjamins to players like Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse, but the fact remains they’ve been able to keep the integrity of their team in tact while making a strategic splash in free agency/trade. They don’t wait until the end of core player's contract and then overspend to keep him.

The Ravens would be wise to borrow a page from the Eagles' management. Ozzie Newsome has been guilty in the past of overspending (see Todd Heap, Chris McAlister, Ed Reed) to keep coveted players because he’s waited too long to ante up and pull the trigger. Sometimes he even loses them as in the case of Adalius Thomas.

The Ravens did extend Kelly Gregg at an appropriate time and it worked for both the team and Gregg. Ozzie would be wise to do the same with players like Ngata and Jason Brown as well as Ben Grubbs and Marshall Yanda when the time is right – not when they are up against free agency. It’s like a Fram Oil Filter commercial – Pay me now or pay me later!

Many have pegged the Ravens’ ’07 failures in part on the plethora of Ravens’ player talk shows. WBAL had the Derrick Mason Show and CBS Radio hosted shows for Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, Willis McGahee and Bart Scott. And then there was WNST assembling a weekly pre-recorded show with whatever players that were left not already participating in one of the other shows.

The truth be told it was a bit too much and this comes from someone who hosted the Bart Scott Show. The message delivered was oftentimes redundant particularly during a losing season. It became boring. The excuses grew old and so did the shows.

Now take away a nine game losing streak and there’s an altogether different vibe for all of the shows. The radio gig would be more of a night out for the player instead of it feeling like a job and the audience would have fed off both the wins and the upbeat spirit of the player-hosts.

That didn’t happen.

But were the shows to blame even in part for the bad season?

Seems to me that Ray Lewis had a fine year, he’s in Hawaii now as is Willis McGahee. Derrick Mason was the first Raven ever to crack the century mark for receptions in a single season. J.O.’s problem wasn’t his mouth – it was his toe. Bart – he certainly didn’t follow up ’06 very well but folks in Owings Mills will tell you that he was asked to do things he probably shouldn’t have been asked to do and as a result his productivity was off.

Blaming the player shows is a cop out. I guess they were the reason for all those turnovers and penalties too right?. Please….

Wondering if the Ravens will open the season at home next year? Two words – AIN’T HAPPENIN’! The Orioles are at home 3 of the 4 Sundays in September with the off Sunday being September 21. Count on that being the home opener. There’s virtually no chance that the Ravens will be on Monday night or Thursday night next September unless they somehow figure out a way to trade for Tom Brady and they sign Randy Moss.

Sticking with TV, HBO’s "Inside the NFL" is officially done. ITN was the longest-running show in cable TV history. It took one appearance from Brian Billick to kill its 31-year run on HBO.

I'm kidding of course...I think.


Anonymous said...

Clearly Jason Brown and Haloti Ngata have the appearance of "cornerstone" type players that you would want to lock up early. Remember though that players like Anthony Weaver, Maake Kemoeatu, Marques Douglas, and Tony Pashos performed well here and most would consider them to be overpaid today. What if the team chose to sign them early? We probably wouldn't be too happy right now, would we? It cuts both ways. I think that Reed, McAlister, and Heap are worth every penny they are paid. When healthy, they are all arguably amongst the best at their respective positions in the league.

The player talk shows for the most part are boring. To blame them for the team's performance is laughable. The HBO show was good when they showed all highlights. I'm glad it's done. I can't stomach Marino, Carter, Costas, and Collinsworth for 10 minutes, much less an hour. Good riddance!

It seems as though the Ravens never get more than 1 September home game. Perhaps that is the primary reason that they start off so slowly.

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Feb 7th
I agree that, when HEALTHY HEAP, REED AND MC ALISTER are worth every penny.
...Lets hope that Ozzie takes a peek up RT 95 to see what the Eagles are doing with their Cap. (i.e. to keep the good players around).
...IMHO, two Players are a MUST SIGN: Ngata and Brown. Dev the "Scientist" knows of what he speaks.
...As far as the Radio shows.. I've been one critic of them: However, now that I've stopped drinking due to the 9 strait losses, and I'm seeing things more clearly; I will agree that they had no effect on the play on the field. If the Ravens had a season like the Patriots just completed; then the shows would have been great. I've heard local sun papers writers complain that they couldn't get stories from RAY...they had to wait to hear the good stuff on the Radio. Is this fair,,, I'm not in a position to judge that. Its still not a perfect world. Just look at all of the Candidates running for the White House...$%%$#$..
...Regardless of these issues, I'm very excited and have a POSITIVE Attitude about the upcoming 2008 season. Coach Harbaugh is assembling what appears to be a HI-ENERGY Staff. Lets hope that he has some HI-ENERGY Players to Coach this year!

Anonymous said...

I do agree that it only took 1 appearance by Brian Billick to kill Inside the NFL. Seriously, Brian is a good ocassional guest, but not someone who I want to hear from every week.

Ozzie has really screwed up our cap situation by overpaying has beens like Steve McNair, Samari Rolle, etc. He sells the farm, just to get 1 year out of these players. I do agree we should lock up our young talent early, but we are stuck with players like McNair only because of the cap. The team will spin this ofcourse, saying Steve McNair is working out and he is in wonderful condition, but truth be told, the only reason why he really is here is because of the poor cap situation and we can't get anyone better. Be prepared for a mediocre season, but don't blame the new coaches, because they inherited this team without a lot of imput as to who is staying.