The Ravens made a flurry of moves over the past 24 hours or so, including re-signing James Hurst, declining Austin Howard‘s option, picking up Brandon Carr‘s, and cutting Danny Woodhead & Lardarius Webb.
RSR Staff react to what we’ve seen thus far…
Steve Bisciotti is on record saying, “I think we can make a splash [in free agency].” The tide was high, but now it’s out to sea, like the Ravens chances of making that splash. It’s a dangerous thing to set expectations and then not deliver, particularly in light of the unprecedented fan discontent in Baltimore.
However, all is not lost. Perhaps the Ravens came to their senses. Perhaps they realize that they can’t compete in a free agent market against teams flush with cap space and agents looking to land rich 3-year deals for their clients that terminate when the next collective bargaining agreement is expected to be in place. They don’t have the cap space, plain and simple. It’s a time for healing, a time to draft better and a time to stop throwing good money at bad — those costly extensions and bad contracts that ultimately come back and bite you.
The Ravens only need to look in the mirror for proof.
As for the players who have been jettisoned, the only mild surprises are:
1. The parting of ways with Austin Howard. Rumblings are that Howard is a physical wreck.
2. That Jeremy Maclin is still around and as Brian McFarland astutely points out, that could be an injury settlement situation and could take a little time.
Let’s stop masking roster weaknesses with Band-Aids. It’s time to clean up this flawed roster, even if it places the 2018 season in peril.
I’d rather have a repeat of the 2002 season than a rinse and repeat of the last three.
I’m not surprised at all with the cuts the team has made so far. The writing was on the wall with Howard when the team brought back Hurst. Now you’re looking at a situation where Alex Lewis could pivot to either RT or C, depending on what other moves are made. The fan acrimony regarding a lack of “splash” moves is understandable, but with the clearing of some cap space, we’ll see if the team starts dipping into the B and C categories. Specifically, I’d think they are in the market for guys like Donte Moncrief and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
The Ravens have created close to $5 million salary cap space with the releases of Austin Howard, Lardarius Webb and Danny Woodhead. Nonetheless, the free agent market for a wide receiver has already greatly thinned. Jarvis Landry was traded to the Browns, Sammy Watkins is reportedly headed to the Chiefs and Allen Robinson is likely going to sign with the Bears. This could mean the Ravens reunite with Mike Wallace. The recent developments certainly won’t inspire much confidence among the fans. Nonetheless, free agency has not even officially begun and perhaps Ozzie Newsome has his eye on a trade.
The cut of Howard is the mild surprise thus far. The team had to cover for his feet with significant chip blocking in 2017, but this move makes tackle the top need for 2018. Neither Hurst nor Lewis has played tackle even passably, so I don’t see either as the solution and it’s dangerous to enter the season with either as the top backup there. I am confident the Ravens coaching staff can cobble together a 3-man interior line as they did in 2017 with the spate of injuries.
The non-cut of Maclin is a surprise, but the price tags on WRs this offseason may have scared the Ravens into keeping him as an option. (See another potential reason that he hasn’t been cut yet in today’s Cap Doctor article).
This offseason is the culmination of past restructures, poor draft picks and bad free agent signings. It’s also the result of the Ravens’ inability to understand that at some point they’ll need to rebuild and not retool. But that’s not possible because of the pressure on John Harbaugh and his coaching staff to win now in an effort to keep their jobs. The Browns went 0-16 last year but who is in better shape today? The team with Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon, $60 million in cap space and two top five picks or the team with Chris Moore, Breshad Perriman and less than $5 million?
The Ravens are a mess and there’s a real chance they may be the worst team in the AFC North in 2018. Continuity though right?
A busy day for the Ravens but none of these moves should come as too much of a surprise. The team will save $1.75M after releasing Webb, who would have played nothing more than a mentorship role amongst a crowded DB unit. Releasing Woodhead not only creates another $1.75M in savings but it allows for healthier rotation between Alex Collins and Kenneth Dixon, with Buck Allen figuring to have a strong role as well. The Ravens are likely to add another pass-catching RB through the draft.
Howard’s release has me a bit weary since it creates a need at RT alongside the impending vacancy at C, as Jensen is expected to leave for much “greener” pastures. With $3M in savings, will they be looking to target an OT in the first round? Or will Alex Lewis move to RT with Hurst remaining at LG? The Ravens may be looking to manufacture a make-shift offensive line yet again.
And get angry all you want about picking Brandon Carr’s option, just remember the reason why he was brought here in the first place. His price tag isn’t associated with speed or ball skills, it’s based mainly on his durability. Jimmy Smith is coming off a torn Achilles and had experienced a high ankle sprain and torn Linsfranc in the two seasons prior. I shouldn’t have to remind anyone about injuries have demolished the Ravens CB unit, thus Carr’s value shouldn’t be that hard to realize.
I’m a happy camper. Woodhead & Webb were disposable, Howard was inevitable, & Carr stays which is ideal. Cuts were going to happen – with more to com e- mostly to assure the team has the ability to 1) sign their draft class, 2) make a few necessary moves in the weeks to come, and 3) CYA for inevitable injuries. But my elation is really because we haven’t heard the word “restructure” yet, which is fancy talk for “kicking the financial can down the road.” The Ravens need to do everything in their power to avoid that while still getting better via Free Agency.
Boom or bust. That’s this upcoming season in a nutshell, right?