Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ravens news, rumors and speculation

The signing of Donte Stallworth has very little downside for the Ravens. On the field at worst the team just dialed up the heat in the competition for those five roster spots that comprise the receiving corps. Competition is a good thing.

Stallworth’s contract is a relative bargain at $900,000 with no signing bonus. If Stallworth fails, the Ravens bail. No harm, no foul.

Is Stallworth the answer to the Ravens passing game woes? Of course not, but he is a step in the right direction. If Stallworth takes the field as the No. 3 or 4 receiver and competes against nickel and/or dime backs with his 4.3 speed, Stallworth could make a few big plays during the course of a season and force opposing defensive coordinators to adjust.

To make room for Stallworth the Ravens released Quinn Sypniewski, a move that the team made with a heavy heart. Sypniewski was well-liked and when healthy is clearly a player that provides value as a solid blocking tight end who was a developing pass catcher. His freakish injury during 2008 OTA’s had some in Owings Mills concerned that it was a career threatening one. Their fears may have been realized as Sypniewski failed his recent physical.

Speaking of physical, one of the most rugged players ever to wear a Ravens uniform was cut yesterday by the Browns. Jamal Lewis was let go and by most counts, No. 31’s career is heading into the sunset. Retirement appears to be the plan for the 2003 Offensive Player of the Year. Is he a lock for the Ravens Ring of Honor? Does he have Hall of Fame creds?

The back who assumed workhorse duties for Lewis, Willis McGahee is a frequently mentioned name in the rumor mill as a potential trade candidate. The Detroit Lions is one of the teams often brought up as a possible suitor yet another has entered the mix – the San Diego Chargers. Ladainian Tomlinson has probably seen his last days in powder blue and Darren Sproles, a free agent, isn’t exactly an every down back. There may be a match with the Chargers who reportedly are listening to offers for CB Antonio Cromartie.

Cromartie, a workout warrior, has had two subpar seasons after a stellar 2007 during which he intercepted 10 passes in the regular season, two in the post season and another pair of picks in the Pro Bowl en route to his All Pro status. Cromartie is in the fifth and final season of a 5 year rookie contract.

The former FSU Seminole has a reputation for being a soft corner and an unwilling participant in support of run defense. That said if the Ravens can convince the Chargers to take on McGahee’s contract and unload a player viewed by some in San Diego as a malcontent, Ozzie Newsome should jump at the chance even if it is a one season rental. Cromartie is playing for the next contract and his contributions could be the bridge to properly develop any 2010 draft picks and buy some time for the recovering Lardarius Webb.

Word is that Webb is at the Ravens facility every day to accelerate the healing process. He's a good kid who's motivated and the Ravens believe that he's on target to ahead of the curve.That said, it is at least 50-50 that he will start the season on the physically unable to perform (“PUP”) list. Keep in mind that Webb’s position requires quick reaction in the lower extremities and that places added burden on the joints. Consequently doctors may be a bit more cautious.

Something also to keep in mind…

Webb played a lot of safety at the collegiate level and seems to possess excellent recognition and reaction skills, something that his mentor Ed Reed has parlayed into a Hall of Fame career. And let’s not forget Reed’s uncertain future.

Terrell Owens is often mentioned as a possible addition to the Ravens receiving corps. Don’t hold your breath on that one! Keep in mind that John Harbaugh had a birds-eye view of Owens as a member of the Eagles’ coaching staff and that T.O. isn’t exactly on Ozzie Newsome’s Christmas card list.

You may recall back in 2004 when the Ravens made the trade with the San Francisco 49ers for Owens that the mercenary receiver claimed that one of the reasons he didn’t want to come to Baltimore stemmed from alleged comments from Newsome.

In his autobiography Owens wrote, that Newsome told the wide receiver's agent that, "He was a black man from Alabama just like TO" and that "sometimes a black man's gotta be slapped."

Ozzie refused to comment on
the allegations but you can rest assured that any bridge from the Ravens to Owens was nuked by T.O.’s racial overtones.

The Ravens remain very interested in bringing veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason back into the fold. Mason is an unrestricted free agent and despite flirting with retirement in 2009, he is expected to play during the 2010 season. Word is the Dolphins are interested in Mason’s services.

Another player that the Ravens would like to see stay is Dwan Edwards. The team was extremely pleased with Edwards’ efforts in 2009 as he supplanted Trevor Pryce as the starter. Pryce who is scheduled to make $4.5 million in 2010 is unlikely to ever see that kind of payola from the Ravens. Don’t be surprised if that money is reallocated to Edwards with a little left over to retain a player like Justin Bannan. If Pryce doesn’t accept a pay cut, he could be gone.

The Ravens’ draft board is set and word is the board has expanded a bit this year. In previous seasons the Ravens typically had 135 to 140 names on their board. With the plethora of underclassmen in this year’s draft that number has swelled to 180. The threat of a rookie salary cap could be influencing the juniors.

While on the topic of influence, judging from the video below Trent Dilfer might be under it. Have a look for yourself and as always your comments are welcomed.


Jerry B said...

I like the Stallworth acquisition for several reasons, none the least of which is that he has something to prove and appears to be an upgrade to a rather lackluster receiving corps. As for his legal troubles, according to the facts in his case, there were mitigating circumstances, including the victim's intoxication and Stallworth's coming to his aid rathher than fleeing the scene. Add to that the fact that he's taken responsibility for his actions, has paid his debt to society and is sincerely remorseful, so the guy deserves another chance and I'm glad we're giving it to him. As for T.O., now that's a horse of a different color and I can't imagine him in a Ravens uniform......EVER!!! Agree with your assessment of Edwards/Bannan vis-a-vis the aging Pryce and I, too, think Webb is a dynamic player who was a great "find" in last year's draft.......