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David Carr signed with the Carolina Panthers late last week for the reasonable sum of $6.2 million over 2 seasons, including a $3 million signing bonus. The deal makes sense for both parties. The Panthers have a relatively young QB with upside who has significant playing experience to provide some insurance as a back up to Jake Delhomme who struggled at times in 2006.
For Carr, he gets an opportunity to go to a solid organization with a decent offensive line along with talent at the skill positions. Carr might also get an opportunity to start fairly quickly in Carolina particularly if Delhomme continues to struggle. Keep in mind that Delhommeâ€™s back loaded contract calls for salaries of $3.69 million in 2008 and $5.325 million in 2009. Carrâ€™s deal is short by design and forces the issue of performance which could benefit both the club and the player.
Carr may have been a decent fit here in Baltimore but on the heels of Steve McNairâ€™s solid 2006 performance and the structure of his contract, the Ravens will need to milk another two years out of McNair. A two year deal in Baltimore wouldnâ€™t make much sense. Kyle Boller is certainly a more economical back up and less of a drain on the cap than Carr would have been had the Ravens actually entertained the idea of dressing him in purple.
Opting for some Sizzle instead of a used Carr
Perhaps one of the reasons why the Ravens havenâ€™t entertained the idea of playing in the free agent market this offseason is partly due to the clubâ€™s desire to retain Terrell Suggs. Suggs has become more than just a relentless pass rusher — he is now a complete linebacker with improved ball skills in pass coverage and he is much more effective holding down the edge defending the run.
Suggs has hardly approached his ceiling as a player and he is a safe bet to remain productive through the balance of a lengthy contract extension. He will only be 24 when the Ravens visit the Bengals to start the 2007 regular season on Monday Night Football. As a result the team should not have some of the same concerns with Suggs that they had with Adalius Thomas who will be 29 at the start the â€˜07 campaign.
Should Suggs hit the open market, he is likely to push the boundaries of CB Nate Clementsâ€™ contract. Clements signed this offseason with the 49ers and received a $22.6 million guarantee. Those numbers are more easily absorbed when spread over six or more seasons and thereâ€™s certainly less risk of dead cap dollars with Suggs than with AD.
As they have with players like Todd Heap and Ed Reed in the past when free agency loomed, expect the Ravens to engage Suggs and his representatives in discussions sometime prior to the 2007 season. If not it could prove to be very costly.
Hardly full at fullback
A position that shouldnâ€™t be too costly for the Ravens is fullback. With Ovie Mughelli leaving for Atlanta and Justin Green recovering from a knee injury that ended his 2006 season prematurely, the Ravens will likely look for depth at the position. Itâ€™s doubtful that they will look to free agency to find the needed depth at fullback. More than likely Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta will wait to see what Day 2 of the 2007 NFL Draft yields.
However if the team comes up empty in the draft at fullback, it still may not be that big of a void for the club. Mike Anderson has played fullback successfully in the past for the Broncos and perhaps he could earn his paycheck contributing as the up back. Plus when you consider that the Ravensâ€™ newly acquired tailback Willis McGahee is very comfortable in a one back set, the team shouldnâ€™t go overboard spending for a player who will see limited action anyway.
The one back set could open the field for the Ravens and it gives offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel the chance to create mismatches. Without a fullback, the Ravens will employ more two tight end sets and it will also provide more snaps for Demetrius Williams. The Ravens might also use Todd Heap more in the slot forcing defenses to account for Heap with a linebacker or with single coverage from a safety.
Either way, thatâ€™s a mismatch that the Ravens will happily exploit given time enough to throw the football.
And that bodes well for a team that will be challenged to repeat as the leagueâ€™s No. 1 defense.