Should the Ravens pursue Jonathan Martin or Richie Incognito in the offseason?
Is either lineman worth the risk given that the Ravens organization, after considerable change and turmoil since winning the Super Bowl, may not possess the strong leadership necessary to absorb either of these controversial players?
Certainly, Baltimore must wait for the official NFL report on the Miami affair, there may be more dirty laundry aired as soon as Attorney Ted Wells releases his findings. But absent any major revelations or a league suspension, it appears that Incognito will be available to the highest bidder and Martin may be had for a draft pick.
For sure the Ravens could use all the help they can get on the offensive line, particularly if they fail to sign Eugene Monroe and let Michael Oher leave via free agency. It may be that the Ravens can steal a quality O-lineman by signing either of these guys but the acquisition would come with considerable risk.
Jonathan Martin has much to offer as lineman. He can play either tackle position well and he is young and still on his rookie contract entering his third year in the league. He appears to be physically healthy but his mental health is very much in question. Depression can be tough, perhaps worse than broken bones or torn ligaments, depending on its severity. Martin may have a high mountain to climb. Others have made it, though, Terry Bradshaw for example, and society is generally more understanding about mental illness so he has a good chance of recovery with the right organization.
Martin will need to be mentally tough when he returns to the NFL for he is likely to be branded a traitor by many fans for going public with his claims against his Miami teammates. Others will see him as a player who quit on his team and may have cost them a shot at the playoffs. Many players will not want Martin as a teammate solely because he betrayed the sanctity of the locker room. Many players will be supportive of Martin, though, because they know him to be a class guy with no history of trouble. Some players will welcome Martin simply because they loathe Incognito and know all about his past transgressions on and off the field.
Richie Incognito has been an enigma his entire career, his body is tough as nails but his brain may be soft as jelly. Incognito has played with considerable skill, earning a Pro Bowl berth in 2012, but trouble has followed him throughout his football career, both at the collegiate and pro levels. It may be that Incognito has learned from the searing publicity of the Miami bullying scandal. He would bring a tough, intimidating attitude to the offensive line, as well as much needed experience lost with the retirement of Matt Birk.
The Ravens seem set at guard but they could use the depth, particularly if Kelechi Osemele is slow to return from back surgery. Still, when he returns, Incognito will be forced to perform, both on and off the field, in the glare of a blinding spotlight, at least during his first year back. It will be a considerable challenge for a man with a history of dirty play on the field and knucklehead behavior off it.
Right Player, Right Price
Ozzie Newsome’s mantra of right player, right price will surely be an important consideration in any decision involving Martin or Incognito. Both may be considered damaged goods and could be available at a bargain, but Incognito is a Pro Bowler and a free agent so he may be more expensive. Martin is still on his rookie contract but likely will cost a draft pick and the Ravens have already traded three of their 2014 picks. Also, do the Ravens have a greater need for a tackle or a guard?
Ultimately, Ozzie may decide to pass on both players but the chance to steal a talented offensive lineman may be a temptation the Ravens can’t resist!
Submitted by Rob Ward