The Baltimore Ravens have quietly put together an A+ off-season and we haven’t even gotten to the draft yet.
In just a couple of weeks, the Ravens have given out about $44 million in guaranteed money while keeping 4 players (Eugene Monroe, Dennis Pitta, Jacoby Jones, Daryl Smith) and grabbing another (Steve Smith). Those are all players that most fans would have said the Ravens needed to get and yet Ozzie Newsome was able to get them at great prices.
According to Jamison Hensley none of them rank among the top eight highest paid at their position.
Most would have said the Ravens needed to make signing a safety a priority. Well, they did, just probably not the one you would have guessed. Actually, I felt like I was reading about the Orioles signing players, as I had to Google who it was. The Purple & Black picked up Darian Stewart from the Rams.
No, Stewart is not a huge signing, but Ravens secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo was Stewart’s head coach in St. Louis and wouldn’t let the Ravens sign him if he wasn’t a quality guy. This should help give them depth that they lost when Corey Graham signed elsewhere.
Those moves alone would have been good enough for many before the draft. Once the draft happens, more veteran cuts will happen and Ozzie will be able to complete the roster at that point.
But Ozzie pulled off a trade this weekend for a player that was being talked about by quite a few teams. He could really help the Ravens. Baltimore acquired interior offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah from the Tampa Bay Bucs for a mid-round 2015 draft pick.
Zuttah is 6-foot-4 and 308 pounds. He can play center, left guard, and right guard. He helped open holes for Ray Rice at Rutgers. He is so excited about coming to Baltimore that as soon as the trade became official, Zuttah and the Ravens were working on a long-term deal which would also lower his cap number for this season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Zuttah was just behind Matt Birk in 2012 at the center position. He remained consistent in his ranking in 2013, which was 13 slots higher than Gino Gradkowski.
Is he is premier center or guard in this league? No, but he’s a big man who is a definite upgrade for the Ravens. And an upgrade for a mid-round draft pick sounds like a great deal to me.
But there is something that makes me scratch my head… what exactly is a draft pick worth to NFL teams?
In 2011, the Ravens got Lee Evans for a 4th round pick. In 2013, the Ravens got a 6th round pick for Boldin from the 49ers. Earlier this month, the 49ers got Blaine Gabbert for a 6th round pick. Last week, the Raiders gave away a 6th round pick for Matt Schaub.
So, Boldin, Gabbert and Schaub are all worth the same? The Ravens are said to have given up a “mid-round pick” for Zuttah. Is that a 4th? 5th? 6th? If it’s a 5th (as reported by many), does that mean Zuttah, who was ranked 24th best at his position is more valuable than a #1 receiver in Boldin or a starting quarterback in Schaub?
I’m glad Ozzie is good at his job, because I’m not sure I understand a lot of the rationale when it comes to these deals.
But in the end, what I do know is that the Ravens have quietly filled a lot of their big holes and we haven’t even reached the NFL draft yet.