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THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens have nada without Ngata extension

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens have nada without Ngata extension

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Many of the Ravens’ faithful are holding out hope that Derrick Mason returns to Baltimore. Word is he is mulling over offers from the Jets, Titans and the Ravens. I only hope he returns to Baltimore if the Ravens genuinely have no other options OR he joins Malcom Floyd in the Ravens receiving corps.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Mason. Truth be told he’s one of my favorite players. I admire his work ethic, toughness and his consistency. But he’s just not the right fit for the Ravens as a No. 2 receiver.

How will the offense improve if he returns?

Well it could be worse without him if Floyd doesn’t come to Baltimore. But there’s little to no reason to think the Ravens offense would be better – particularly against the Steelers, in 2011 if he does come back.

The Steelers squat on the Ravens offense. They don’t respect the team speed the Ravens put out there and that has to change. Mason as a No. 3 would be great albeit unrealistic. But if Ozzie could pull that off and complement Boldin, Floyd & Mason with Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss and David Reed (a plus special teamer), that would be a nicely balanced receiving corps.

Haloti Ngata’s deal is said to be close to being completed and an educated guess is that it will be roughly 6 years, $72 million with about $40 million guaranteed (with maybe an $18/18 M signing/option bonuses).

And while one source has shared that the deal is pretty much done, could it be that Ngata’s agent is holding the deal up knowing that his client’s signing could allow the Ravens to make other moves?

Think about it this way. If you are Priority Sports Management (Ngata’s agency) and you see that the Ravens have to free up space to sign WR Malcom Floyd or QB JP Losman or RB Clinton Portis or C/G Rich Seubert and your client’s signing is the linchpin that frees up all of these player signings (hypothetically), might you not want the Ravens to sweeten the offer just a bit?

The Ravens cap for the moment is pretty close to the brim. Estimates point to about $3-4 M in cap space – just enough to fit the reported offer to Floyd. But if the Ravens make that deal before they extend Ngata, they will have no emergency fund. No money to sign a much needed swing interior offensive lineman to pick up the slack for Casey Rabach and his failed physical.

And that leaves them fiscally vulnerable.

Back to Rabach, could he re-enter the picture in a couple of weeks provided his rehabilitation has strengthened that bum shoulder enabling him to pass the Ravens’ physical?

PLAYING THE GAME ~ It’s possible that the Ravens could try and lure veteran backups in after the first week of the season. That way, if for any reason the player doesn’t work out, they could cut ties with the player(s) and not owe them a dime.

Perhaps there’s a veteran quarterback who is familiar with the Don Coryell system that Cam Cameron runs who is among a team’s final cuts. The Ravens could bring that QB in during Week 2. The same could be said of a running back or even an offensive tackle.

Take Jared Gaither for instance.

There have been some unsubstantiated rumors swirling about regarding Gaither and the NFL’s substance program. I’m not confirming or denying them, but if I’m hearing these rumors you know league executives are too.

Match these rumors up with a work ethic that has been heavily criticized along with a season missed due to a back injury and that could explain why such a promising left tackle is seeing little interest in the free agent market.

If Gaither is still out there after the Ravens play the Steelers during Week 1, I would be on the phone to his agent Drew Rosenhaus extending his client the opportunity to put all rumors and uncertainties to rest and turn his career around.

And if he fails to do so, just cut him and the opportunity cost is just a few wasted game checks.

But the upside could be substantial.

QUESTION: The Ravens signed CB Chris Carr to a four year, $15 million deal. The Redskins inked Josh Wilson for three years and $13.5 million including a $6M signing bonus. Which is the better deal?

 

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin to being John Bonham. Follow Tony on Twitter @RussellStReport. More from Tony Lombardi

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