Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jets' GM Tannenbaum duped by Scott's agent

Bart Scott wears his heart on his sleeve and it was clear as the dawn of free agency approached that all things being equal, he would love to finish his career in Baltimore. But as we now know, that won’t happen.

Last year while hosting The Hot Sauce with Bart Scott on Baltimore’s ESPN Radio, I often discussed free agency with him while trying to gain some insight into the mental and emotional part of the process. As fans and observers of the team, we are guilty at times of reducing these players to pawns in a chess match and overlook the human element of the decision making equation.

I know that Bart harbored a dream of ending his career as a Raven. He said proudly many times how unique it would be for an undrafted free agent – a “slacky” as he often described himself, starting and finishing a lengthy career with one team.
The dream is over.

Bart is now a New York Jet.

On the surface, those who paid attention to the events leading up to Bart eventual signing with Rex Ryan’s merry band of green and white characters must have concluded that Scott struggled mightily to leave Baltimore and held tight to that dream, or that he was using the two teams against each other to entice both to ante up.

Now I must admit that while watching this drama unfold, I was a bit ticked off at Bart. When I noticed that he had agreed to terms with the Jets but did not sign the deal, I assumed that he was coming back to give the Ravens one last shot to match the offer – the right of refusal if you will.

Then it was reported that the Ravens had trumped the Jets deal of 5 years and $40 million with a $42 million figure which was then trumped by the deal that was finally accepted, the 6 year, $48 million deal, $22 million of which is guaranteed.
This was not the behavior of a player I thought I knew. How could he use the team that took a chance on a Southern Illinois Saluki labeled by some as a troublemaker? Why would he kick to the curb the club that helped to elevate him from depths beneath that of Mr. Irrelevant 2002 to Pro Bowler?

Say it ain’t so Bart!

As it turns out, “it ain’t so.”

When Bart and his agent Harold Lewis ended discussions with the Ravens front office on Thursday, the sides were close to a deal but not close enough in the mind of Harold Lewis. With free agency mere hours away, Bart decided to test the market. And from what I’ve been told since, the team knew then that they had seen the last of Bart Scott in a Ravens uniform.

The alleged poker match between the Jets and the Ravens never happened. The Ravens never countered the Jets offer. All of the NFL Network talk and all of the radio talk and all of the breaking news updates were nothing more than masterful strokes by Harold Lewis. Lewis used the speed of information via the internet and handheld devices to carefully plant the seeds of doubt in the minds of Rex Ryan and 37-year-old Jets’ General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and took the later to school. Tannenbaum blinked and he got a little twitchy and at the end of the day and he essentially bid against himself as Bart and Lewis spread their arms and collected a few more million chips from the bargaining table.

The signing reverberates here in Baltimore and raises some probing questions:

Is Bart worth that much money and had he agreed to a similar deal in Baltimore, would you actually be happy about it? After all this is a player who is solid yet hardly a playmaker (1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 0 interceptions).

What does it say about Ray Lewis’ market value when arguably his biggest supporter (Rex Ryan) chose to pay Bart $5 million more in guaranteed money than the Ravens have offered Lewis ($17 million)?

If Bart is worth a guaranteed $22 million and DeAngelo Hall $22.5 million, what is Terrell Suggs worth? Suddenly that Dwight Freeney contract that is the measuring stick for Suggs ($30 million guaranteed) is shaping up as a relative bargain.

Clearly there are challenges ahead for Ozzie Newsome and the rest of the Ravens’ front office. Anxious fans will prematurely conclude that the team is asleep at the controls and that the roster is already much weaker given the losses of Bart and Jason Brown. But an offseason can’t really be measured until the 53 man roster is set in September.

Until then fans should be happy that guys like Ozzie and Eric DeCosta are at the controls and that the Ravens have an owner who knows a bit about negotiating, particularly for job openings. They should find comfort knowing that these men won’t be duped by agents such as Harold Lewis unlike the wet-behind-the-ears front office of the New York Jets.

Excuse me Mr. Tannenbaum, Jim Leonhard’s agent Mr. Valentyn is holding on Line 1…


Anonymous said...

The fact is that the Ravens have signed NONE of their free agent starters yet, and have kept Suggs only by tagging him and taking an enormous cap hit in the process. If they get Ray, it's only because he had no other options. If they had signed Suggs instead of dorking around with him for two years, they could have tagged Brown, and now Suggs' price just goes up. Or they could have signed Brown last year to a modest contract. Ozzie's style of taking players to the brink of free agency before putting a competitive offer on the table is outdated, and this free agency period has been woefully mismanaged. Meanwhile, we have to overspend on Foxworth and probably Marvel Smith because of the inept middle round drafting of DeCosta the last few years that has yielded gems like David Pittman, O'Neill Cousins, and David Hale. This is not a time of high confidence in the front office.

don banks said...

you are the same jerk who bashes ozzie and decosta all the time. Cousins and Hale are first-year players. Who could they possibly play over? Hale is a center/guard. cousins is a guard/tackle. both guys are 21 years old. lets' not throw them away....Decosta did draft jason brown in 05. he didn't contribute as a rookie either.... if i'm not mistaken we did draft geither (5th round steal), yanda( 3rd round)and chester(played his ass off this year). not to mention players like landry (why we can let leonard go)....give it a rest...the team was five minutes from the super bowl.......oh, and by the way, since you are a freaking genius, tagging jason brown would have resulted in him being paid the average of the top five ol in all of football (it's not center or guard, it's all ol......)....that whopping figure would have been 8.5M....way to go, genius....that's a lot of coin to pay an interior lineman considering the depth of our ol...why make him the highest paid interior ol in all of football? he's not worth it.....after all, he was a fourth round pick and he'll be replaced. oh, i forget, the ravens can't draft middle round players. one of them actually made the pro bowl this year and ran for 900 yards.....we won't miss 57 either.....gooden and mcclain can duke it out to start....both guys showed a lot of promise last year. i've got tremendous confidence in the ravens front office.....most teams in the league would trade their front office for ours, guaranteed. five playoff appearances in 9 we've finally got a qb and a young nucleus of players on both lines.

Anonymous said...

So Don Banks must resort to personal attacks to present an OPINION. That's what we're doing here, chief, spouting OPINIONS. Sorry if my OPINION doesn't mesh with yours or the politically correct notions that prematurely ascend Mr. DeCosta into superstardom.

But let's talk about Ozzie. I've never criticized Ozzie before, but by any measure, his handling of this year's free agents has been an utter disaster. We're going to lose most of them, and any that we do retain will likely be bitter by the process. It hurts so much to watch this play out because we ARE so close to the Super Bowl. How can anyone reconcile giving up a Pro Bowl caliber center for the next 10 years (good centers can play into their mid-30's) by not spending $7.5M per year (or much less if signed earlier) while signing a slightly above average cornerback at $7M per year? It simply makes no sense.

OL Coach said...

it comes down to importance of position. for instance, qbs and ots and dcs always make more than centers, safeties, tight ends because of importance of position. that's why a corner like fabian washington, for instance, makes a lot more money than say jeff saturday. teams get beat three ways in the poor qb play, bad corner play, and bad edge protection (tackle play). that's why corners and tackles and qbs always get picked high in the first round and centers get picked much later. it's magnified even greater when you consider percentage of starters drafted per position per round. 50% of all starting centers in the nfl were drafted in rounds 4 or later.......only 10% of all starting corners were drafted outside round one and 16 of 32 starting qbs were drafted in round many starting centers were drafted in the first two rounds, you ask? many starting centers in the nfl went undrafted (think mike flynn, jeff saturday, casey wiegman, corey nieswanger, sean o'hara, etc)....9....there are more starting centers that went undrafted in the nfl than were drafted in the first two rounds....what does that tell us? first, you don't have to have a great center to win....second, don't overpay a center when you can get them in the fifth, sixth, seventh rounds......that fact alone is why corners get paid and centers don't...the same applies to the safety position---the stats are eerily similar.....over 50% of all starting safeties were drafted in the fourth round or later.....that's why players like demps and leonhard (both undrafted) can play and players like prude and ogilby can''s the nature of the position......teams pay corners who can run. foxworth (who played behind good corners in denver) is one of the fastest players in the league, according to all the reports.

it simply makes no sense (to use your jargon) to pay a center who is a good player 7.5 million dollars a year when you can find a serviceable guy in the fourth, fifth or sixth round (wally williams--undrafted, jeff mitchell---fifth round, mike flynn---undrafted, jason brown---4th round, matt birk----6th round.) To allocated that much money to a position that is relatively unimportant on the ol (always have help from a guard or are uncovered)is irresponsible. especially considering that gaither is going to get paid, as is flacco at some corners, tackles, and qbs....they are toughest positions to find because the set of skills/mesurments are so rare.

Rick from Essex said...

Mr. Anon---

"This is not a time of high confidence". Au contraire.

Stick to something that you know something about.

Perhaps gardening or horse farms or gold prices.

Rick from Essex

Anonymous said...

ol coach, I appreciate your thoughtful post vice the ramblings of other commenters to this thread. Your points are valid on centers in general, but Jason Brown is a special player. When you have a special player at that position a la Dwight Stephenson in the Dolphin days of yore, he's worth a little more. Centers can play into their mid-30s easily.

Case in point is Jeff Saturday. Neither the Ravens nor most other teams have ever been able to touch Peyton up the middle because of Jeff Saturday. When he was injured the first 5 games or so last year, the Colts struggled mightily with run blocking and pass protection. You saw how the Ravens were much more solid with interior pass blocking this year compared to the Mike Flynn years. It was no coincidence.

I'm now less concerned since we signed Birk (kudos to Ozzie on a backup plan), but fact is he's 32. At least we should be good at the position for a couple years, but Jason Brown was a sure thing who would have locked down the position for another decade. It's just a crying shame it played out as it did.

Anonymous said...

there's not a lot of special qualities regarding brown. he got absolutely manhandled against the steelers in the playoffs....a great player or special player doesn't let that happen....a special player doesn't criticize his teammates after leaving the building. what kind of leader does that? particularly a guy that had chronic weight issues and was on the ground more often than not.....talented yes, special no. give me birk, with his leadership and work ethic over a talented fat-ass who got manhandled in the biggest game of his career.