NO MOSLEY EXTENSION?
RSR’s capologist Brian McFarland estimates that the Ravens could save $4-5M in cap space in 2018 if they can come to terms on a market value extension with linebacker C.J. Mosley. Mosley is on record saying that he wants to remain a Raven.
“I’ve never been a guy that’s liked change or gone to a new place and start over,” Mosley said at the Pro Bowl, per ESPN.com. “I went all four years at Bama. I was at one high school. I was at one middle school. So I’ll love to stay in Baltimore and continue my legacy and try to be the second-best linebacker to finish out there.”
Mosley and the team have both said that they’d like to get a deal done as soon as possible. So, what’s the hold up?
Word is that Mosley is seeking a 5-year, $68M deal with guaranteed money of over $34M. That would make the three-time Pro Bowler the NFL’s highest paid inside linebacker. The Ravens want to keep their first-round pick from 2014 but not at those numbers. Don’t be surprised if this development (or lack thereof) influences the Ravens No. 16 overall pick in next month’s NFL Draft.
On the heels of a rather tumultuous 2017 season, the Ravens have done their very best to restore their goodwill with fans and in the community. The organizational effort is noble and much appreciated. That said, some fans still believe that the team can do more given the player protests and the questionable product on the field in recent years. Many want reduced ticket prices. During his State of the Ravens presser, owner Steve Bisciotti made it clear that such reductions would not happen. And they didn’t.
But what Bisciotti has agreed to do is provide free hot dogs and soft drinks to all children 12 and under during all Ravens home games, provided they are accompanied by a paying adult. Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs will provide the dogs while Pepsi products will be the featured soft drinks.
RENEWALS ARE MOVING SLOW
Despite their efforts in the community, Ravens ticket renewals are moving slowly and the club fears that the fan discontent, as evidenced by the 30,000 empty seats during the team’s 2017 season finale on New Year’s Eve, could linger into 2018. More alarming is this…if ticket renewals continue at the current snail’s pace, home games may not be sold out and that could trigger blackouts in the local TV viewing market.
To avoid the potential for blackouts, the Ravens will place tarp over a few thousand seats that sit adjacent to the new corner scoreboards that will be installed later this year. The team is said to be considering a sponsorship offer from Social Red Dog, a full service marketing agency offering social media, digital and traditional marketing, and data services. The Social Red Dog logo would be displayed on the tarp and word is that they are trying to breathe new life into Ray Lewis‘ “Any dogs in the house” mantra.
ESCALATION OF COMMITMENT
The Ravens are committed to improving the fan experience at M&T Bank Stadium and among the new creature comforts will soon be escalators to the upper deck. In keeping with the Ravens new “Go Green” approach that is obvious during a visit to team headquarters, the new escalators will be driven by solar energy. However, there have been some technical issues that the Ravens hope to resolve before Opening Day. Apparently during cloudy days the escalators advance rather sluggishly. On days without clouds and bright sunshine, the escalators run at a supercharged pace that some believe could become a safety hazard. We’ll certainly hear more about this during the weeks and months ahead.
As part of another effort to re-engage with fans who have served our country, the Ravens will don alternate jerseys during their home game against the Steelers this season. The helmet and jerseys (pictured below) will pay homage to our country’s flag and colors. A large part of the proceeds from all alternate jersey sales will be donated to the league’s designated charities.
NO MORE “KICKOFF TIME”
Last week I opined about the NFL considering the abolition of the kickoff and the punt to reduce head trauma and soft tissue injuries. In recent years we’ve seen the kickoff return grow less and less relevant in today’s game, with most drives often beginning at the 25-yard line following touchbacks, that are essentially layups for modern-day kickers. Removing the kickoff from the game would not come as a shock. However, it would take away a big part any contest. “What time is kickoff?”, would become an obsolete question.
Eliminating punts might be a bit tricky. There are rumors circulating that when a team decides not to go for it on fourth down, the ball will be advanced 40 yards and that will become the starting point on the field for the “receiving” team. The interesting twist to this proposed idea is that it opens the door to some intriguing strategy.
For example, if the line of scrimmage is the opponent’s 41 and the team with the ball decides to “punt”, the ball would be placed at the opponent’s 1-yard line, where the “receiving” team will begin their next drive. However, if the ball is at the 40 or even deeper into the opponent’s territory, the team in possession cannot punt. They would either have to attempt a first-down conversion or try a long field goal.
Obviously the NFLPA will have a say in this, presumably to protect the jobs of players like Sam Koch.
2010 NFL DRAFT REVISITED
The Ravens last pick in the 2010 NFL Draft was Ramon Harewood, an offensive tackle out of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA selected with the 194th overall pick. Harewood, a native of Barbados, was a raw product with ideal size but he never fully embraced the game. It was a project that failed.
With the 195th pick during that 2010 draft, the Steelers selected a talented playmaker out of Central Michigan, Antonio Brown. Brown caught the attention of then Ravens wide receivers coach Jim Hostler, who fought unsuccessfully to convince the team’s war room to take Brown with their fifth-round pick that year. The Ravens did pick a receiver in the fifth – his name was David Reed who caught a grand total of 5 passes for 66 yards during his three seasons in Baltimore. By comparison, Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards the last time he faced the Ravens.
Recently when asked about his failed campaign to get Ozzie Newsome to turn in the card for Brown, Hostler, now the Green Bay Packers passing game coordinator said, “I just had a feeling about the kid. Just like Matt Cavanaugh wanted to draft Tom Brady instead of Chris Redman in 2000, I just had a hunch. But just like with Brady, 30 other teams besides the Ravens, took a pass on Brown. Just think what might have happened for Baltimore if Matt and I had our way.”
HURNS SOUGHT OUT RAVENS QB
The Ravens failed in their attempts to try and lure WR Allen Hurns to Baltimore. Ozzie Newsome tried desperately to convince Hurns to at least visit the team in Owings Mills prior to making his decision to sign with the Cowboys. Word is that Hurns conditionally agreed to the visit, if he could meet with quarterback Joe Flacco. Hurns wanted an opportunity to spend some time with the Ravens quarterback because he didn’t want to join a team that lacked stability at the position. He and his agent had heard the murmurs that 2018 could be Flacco’s last in Baltimore.
Unfortunately, Flacco couldn’t agree to the meet because he had committed to taking his wife and kids to Disney World. The trip was bought and paid for and all other attempts to land on a mutually convenient date to bring Hurns and Flacco together, failed.
In other Flacco-related news, the signal caller has been criticized for not rallying his receivers together during the offseason in order to develop a rapport with said pass catchers. But that’s about to change. A source who spoke under the condition of anonymity shared with RSR recently that Flacco has rented out an indoor facility in Canton, MD to host workouts with receivers, beginning April 2nd.
It has been reported by several sources that Snead, a restricted free agent of the Saints, has in fact visited the Ravens. But there have been no reports of a contract offer or signing, making his participation in the Flacco workouts all the more curious.
Pitta’s involvement is also a bit puzzling. We are all well aware of the Flacco-Pitta friendship and that might be all this is – a couple of friends getting together for a catch. But we’re hearing that it’s more than that. Pitta, after re-evaluations from several orthopedic surgeons, has been given the green light to pursue a comeback. That could explain the Ravens low-ball offer to TE Eric Ebron who recently signed with the Colts.
BALTIMORE SPORTS MEDIA
You just knew that it would eventually happen – Drew Forrester is back on terrestrial airwaves, agreeing to be part of the morning drive time program on 105.7 The Fan. There is no definitive word at this time how Forrester will fit in with The Big Bad Morning Show that currently includes Rob Long, Ed Norris and Jerry Coleman. Some believe that Norris could be moving into politics while others have said that Coleman will be able to sleep a little later and join the tag team of Vinny & Haynie in the 10AM to 2PM slot.
There is a snarky Twitter account @CrankyJeffZ, posting as Jeffy Z, rumored to be the brainchild of a few local media members who cover the Ravens. The account takes shots at other sports media guys and gals as well as things connected to the Baltimore sports scene. I’ve been among Jeffy Z’s targets.
Recently I discussed the account with a member of the Ravens organization and the way I hear it, the team isn’t real happy about Jeffy Z’s shenanigans and media credentials could be revoked if formal apologies aren’t extended to those implicated in the Tweets. Team Vice President of Public Relations, Chad Steele, has already withdrawn Wednesday pizza privileges from a few beat writers.
For my money, Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer are MASN’s best pairing when broadcasting Orioles games. Scheduling conflicts prevent the pair from doing all the games and there’s a precipitous drop off with any other pairing. But that’s all about to change. One source in the warehouse has confirmed that John Lowenstein is returning as a color analyst for MASN and will be in the booth for 25 games this season, during which he will team with Thorne. The same source also shared that the team has approached Lowenstein annually but he’s rebuffed the Orioles regular overtures. When asked why he had a sudden change of heart, Lowenstein smiled and said, “Happy April Fool’s Day”.