Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ravens close in on free agent? Who might be available at No. 8?

We are all aware of John Harbaugh’s well developed understanding of the value in solid special teams play. And given the way the Ravens AFC North rivals are augmenting their rosters in free agency, the team would be wise to get a jump start in an oftentimes overlooked and undervalued aspect of football. Therefore it should surprise no one given the Ravens’ limited cap flexibility that they might look for returns on smaller investments such as Bears special teams’ standout Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Ayanbadejo visited the Ravens this week and word is he is narrowing his decision down to two teams. The Jets appear to be the other option for the 6-1, 228-pound free agent Pro Bowler. The 31-year-old Ayanbadejo is said to be seeking a deal that resembles that of the Giants’ David Tyree. Tyree best known for his helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII is another special teams standout who signed a five year, $7.5 million deal during the last offseason.

The Ravens as you know are the eighth club on the clock come Saturday April 26 in New York. Immediately ahead of them are the Patriots (in Round 1) and the Jets. Yesterday the New York Daily News’ Rich Cimini provided his insightful commentary on the factors that might influence the Jets' decision at No. 6. Here’s a snap shot of Cimini’s top 7 players and how the Jets might view each:

RB Darren McFadden: A definite possibility. They could be tipping their hand if they sign Dolphins RB Jesse Chatman (visited Wednesday). With Chatman, Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, they’d be well stocked in the backfield.

DE Chris Long: Too small to play end in the Jets’ 3-4 scheme. He probably could stand up and play outside linebacker, but they just signed that guy, Calvin Pace (formerly of the Cardinals).

QB Matt Ryan: This would mean rebuilding and, based on the mega contracts they’ve been doling out, the Jets do not see themselves as a rebuilding team.

OT Jake Long: He’d be hard to pass up at No. 6, but it would be a tough sell. They couldn’t play him at left tackle because that would be admitting D’Brickashaw Ferguson was a mistake. They’d have to play him at right tackle, but they just signed Damien Woody.

DT Glenn Dorsey: Two reasons why they won’t pick him: He’s too small to play nose (see Dewayne Robertson) and they just traded for Kris Jenkins.

DT Sedrick Ellis: See Dorsey.

DE/LB Vernon Gholston: Too small to play end. He’d have to play linebacker, but this brings us back to the Chris Long/Pace issue. Then again, after the year OLB Bryan Thomas had, maybe they feel they need two new outside ‘backers.

As you can see there’s no clear cut choice for the Jets but the feeling here is that the Jets most difficult choice would be between Jake Long and Matt Ryan should both be available. And if Long is the pick and only Ryan remains, don’t be surprised to see the Ravens call on a draft day trade partner to move to No. 7. You may recall that the Ravens twice traded with New England on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. The first trade brought Kyle Boller to Baltimore and the second afforded them Adam Terry.

Uh, after further review maybe they should stay put if history is an indicator…


Anonymous said...

I think the Ayanbadejo signing was smart. Not to mention that hopefully we'll never have to hear again:

"Illegal block in the back on the return team, #58" (Haley)