Former Ravens linebacker Zach Orr got some good news on the medical front, and may play in 2017 after all. Here are RSR’s thoughts on the matter…
This is an unexpected and somewhat strange story on a couple of different levels. First, no one expected Orr to ever try and play again so the Ravens didn’t put him on the reserve/retired list and no longer hold his rights. Therefore he immediately becomes a free agent. Second is the fact that Orr only decided to get a second opinion after deciding to retire.
The Ravens have taken their fair share of risks in recent seasons with Dennis Pitta. Many thought he should retire after his second hip surgery because of how it could impact his quality of life down the line should he re-injure his hip a third time. The risk with Orr is even greater. The initial diagnosis said he risked paralysis or death should he continue to play. Even though he’s received more positive news recently, it’s a scary proposition.
Given all of this I wouldn’t expect the Ravens to be among interested teams should Orr in fact give it another go. The competitive drive in professional athletes is one most people will never understand. I just hope Orr isn’t letting that fog his vision which in turn leads him to make a decision that puts his long term health at risk.
Not sure what to make of this story as it’s unprecedented in a number of ways. You could argue the Ravens should have protected themselves from losing Orr in case he changed his mind. Will the two sides be open to a one-year deal that’s relatively cost-friendly? That’s the only way I can see Orr returning. Otherwise, the team can’t take on another substantial cap risk.
First off, I wish Zach Orr the best. He was arguably the team’s best defensive player last year and was a tackling machine. I think it’s a real issue that the Ravens medical team didn’t clear him and I don’t see how 6 months would change that. As much as the medical team erred during the Breshad Perriman fiasco, fans still need to trust them. Hopefully whoever brings him on is confident he’s not in any danger.
However, I think it’s time to move on. Orr was very good against the run, but a liability in pass coverage. Dean Pees’ modified Tampa 2 in pass coverage puts a heavy duty on the ILB’s. C.J. Mosley excelled last year, but Orr was noticeably bad. It’s time to give Kamalei Correa a chance. He showed up to camp lighter and ran with the 1’s, he has the athleticism and, while he doesn’t have the NFL tape, his college tape shows someone who can be a capable WILL in the NFL. A year with the playbook will help as well.
If Orr is cheap then of course grab him, but I do hope the Ravens give Correa the opportunity to win this job or else he’s going to add to the growing list of 2nd round disappointments.
It’s all about risk.
Personal Risk: Orr’s career was a Cinderella story, but I hope he manages his risks better (perhaps I should say more conservatively) than other players have (not just Pitta) in terms of returning to the game.
Ravens performance risk: As a player, he’d fill a significant hole/add depth as a 2-down ILB on this team, but a chance on an unknown athlete with a commitment to variation on 3rd-down pass scheme is a better risk.
Cap risk: The other downside to Orr at this point is his RFA status. The Ravens must pay market value for any remaining years. From a purely business perspective, his 2016 season was the payoff for identifying him as a UDFA. His departure, while painful to him and fans alike, is the sort of opening which creates opportunity for young players with option value. In 2002, the Ravens lost Jamie Sharper to the expansion draft. He was a beloved player who had graduated from a 2-down to 3-down role, but was due to make significantly more money and his loss opened the roster spot for UDFA Bart Scott who would eventually take his spot and play 7 seasons.
First and foremost I wish the best for Orr from a health standpoint. Odd that this decision comes so soon after deciding to retire.
For the Ravens I think they are committed to giving Correa a chance to succeed. Maybe if Orr was stronger in pass coverage this would make a reunion more feasible but that isn’t his strong suit. They also figure to apply the limited resources they have left toward the offensive line. Again, wish Orr all the best.