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  1. #1
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    Offseason Watch: Receivers



    The Baltimore Ravens, on paper, are moving in the right direction. A new head coach is in town; a strong staff of assistants has been hired and/or retained to support him; and now we have plenty to time to turn our attention to the upcoming offseason. We still have a tremendous amount of talent on the roster, but there are several places where we need to get better, younger, or both.

    Unfortunately, several recent decisions in free agency, coupled with the pressure to retain our best homegrown players, has put us up against the cap. This is going to limit our ability to improve our team, but it will not cripple our offseason entirely. I am not a cap expert, though I have a decent understanding of how it works, and I do not have any cap impact figures for the moves I'm expecting to take place, so I don't know how much the Ravens' cap situation will be helped or hurt by them. But I'm starting with the following assumptions:

    Jonathan Ogden retires
    Steve McNair is released and/or retires
    Mike Flynn is released and/or retires

    A couple of notes about assumptions I'm NOT making. First, I don't expect us to cut Samari Rolle, but I am curious whether he will decide to retire. I do think the team will continue to try to get younger CBs into the lineup. Second, I don't expect us to release Ray Lewis, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility of an extension, which would be a good way to free up some cap space. While the team as a whole had a poor year, Lewis was still playing very well for us. He may never again be the force of nature we saw in 2000, but he is definitely capable of starting on almost any team in the league right now. Finally, I don't expect us to franchise Terrell Suggs, unless it is a prelude to a sign and trade. We may be able to make the cap room to franchise him, but not to keep him that way all season. I do think the Ravens will try to re-sign him, but the cost will be high; his off year this year works in our favor, but only a little, as he's a young, talented pass rusher who can move between DE and LB and has never missed a game due to injury. Those don't come along every day! Because of this, he's also our MOST VALUABLE ASSET when discussing trades this offseason, even more valuable than our #8 pick (in what looks to be a weak draft). I would be happy to see Suggs remain a Raven, but I do think that his departure in a trade could be the catalyst for striking a better balance between offense and defense on this team. I don't for a second believe the Ravens will let him walk with no compensation, regardless of our stance on the franchise tag.

    So with that out of the way, what do we need? Well, QB is obviously our top issue. Some of you may believe Troy Smith is the answer, and maybe he is, but there's no chance of knowing that for certain and I wouldn't want to bank another year on whether a 5th-round pick can light up the league in his second season. Another big need is CB, as the league moves more to pass-oriented offenses, good teams need a strong pass rush and at least three capable CBs, even if none of them are superstars. Our young guys were challenged this past year and across the board they failed pretty badly, which is perhaps the biggest disappointment of a terrible year. Perhaps Pittman and Martin and the rest will continue developing and become salvageable, or perhaps they will be a waste and we'll have to keep working on the position through the draft. We could also use help at DE and OL; our pass rush took a huge hit without Trevor Pryce, who isn't getting younger, and our offensive line has a lot of youth but would probably benefit from bringing in a talented young center to anchor the middle and allow us to keep Jason Brown and Ben Grubbs at guard while Terry, Gaither, and Yanda compete at tackle.

    The need I want to talk about here is at WR. Do we have a need at WR? YES. I really like the group we have in Mason, Clayton, and Williams, but if this year has proven ANYTHING, it's that you can never have too many great WRs. The New England Patriots go five deep easily at WR; the Colts have Harrison and Wayne but drafted another talented WR in the first this past season to go with a TE who's basically a WR; almost every team that succeeded this past year could point to at least three great or better receivers. And the universal constant in every top passing attack was having a strong, fast receiver to open up the defense and draw the attention of the coverage. Randy Moss. Reggie Wayne. Terrell Owens. Braylon Edwards. This is the sort of player our team is missing. Demetrius Williams is the closest thing we have and the jury is still out on him.

    Fortunately, this may be the offseason to change that.

    The draft doesn't offer any pass-catchers worthy of the #8 pick this year, but free agency and the trading block may be able to deliver. Keep in mind, we do possess a valuable chip in Terrell Suggs, and any money we were expecting to use to sign him to a long-term deal could be used on one of the following receivers instead:

    1. Randy Moss: Okay, this is pretty unlikely. After all, we were close to getting him a few years back, and it fell through. And why would he leave the Patriots? He's got more than enough money, and he could stay with Brady and compete for more championships. But you never know.

    2. Chad Johnson: Word is he wants out of Cincinnati. We've all witnessed his talent; unfortunately, we've all witnessed his insanity. I think he would be an incredible addition on the field but might be too much of a problem off of it. Still, I wouldn't complain if we found a way to get him from Cincinnati, and his price in trade would be cheaper than some of the other options.

    3. Roy Williams: With Calvin Johnson aboard, Roy knows he is losing his alpha dog status in Detroit, and let's be honest, who wouldn't want out of Detroit? The Lions would desperately love to improve their defense and may be persuaded to spare Williams, who has fantastic talent. On the other hand, with Mike Martz gone, Williams might be content to let his next OC have a chance at keeping him involved in a new offense.

    4. Larry Fitzgerald: His name was brought up recently in another thread, and of all the names here, this one makes the most sense. Fitzgerald is young and supremely talented; he plays for a team that can't get over the hump in a place where most players don't want to be; he's on an offense that has two other top picks at WR and may be content to spare him in exchange for defensive help; and he's got an astronomical cap number. The most logical trade chip, Terrell Suggs, played college ball in Arizona and recently expressed a willingness to return and play pro ball there. Both teams would get an immediate upgrade at a position of need for roughly the same amount of money spent; a top WR and a top pass rusher command similar contracts, and both players are young and healthy. Best of all, unlike many other top WRs, there's no indication of Fitzgerald being a headcase or a primadonna; swapping Suggs for him would be a move in the right direction for the team's character.

    While the Ravens do have a bunch of needs this offseason, not all of them are easily filled through free agency or trade, but this one can be. Hopefully the front office will decide that adding a top WR would be a big step towards cranking up our offense, and we'll see them take decisive action to make it happen.




  2. #2
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    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    Excellent Post!

    Only two excpetions I have. One, I dont think any of the Troy backers (myself included) really think he is the answer yet. Rather, we just want to see the kid get a shot. I really liked what I saw towards the end of the season (granted, it was against virtual 2nd stringers) with his poise and ability to escape.

    Second, I dont want Chad Johnson on the marching band, let alone playing for our team. I did give him credit towards the end of last season for being able to subdue the Chad of old and keeping the celebrations down. My fear would be we start seeing some offensive success and *voila* we have the Chad of old. The potential side line distractions out weigh the potential he could provide, IMO.

    Third, Fitz will never happen. He poses a $12+ Million cap hit (not counting if JO and others go to pasture), if he gets the money he wants. Fiscally, we cant make it happen.

    Ok, I cant count .... that was three!
    WARNING: This post may contain material offensive to those who lack wit, humor, common sense and/or supporting factual or anecdotal evidence. All statements and assertions contained herein may be subject to literary devices not limited to: irony, metaphor, allusion and dripping sarcasm.




  3. #3

    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    FINALLY!!!! somebody has made a thread about our WR issue. Thank you so much. We need a big strong receiver of the Anquan Boldin type. I think Roy Williams is our best option. He is big, strong, fast, and catches everything. Why not trade Terrell Suggs for Williams. If that does not work out, I say we trade down for more picks andtry to pick up Adarius Bowman. This guy is going to be the next big time receiver in the league. Why in the world do I have such a strong feeling that the Ravens are not going to address this issue at WR. They never address the Receiver issue. We keep signing a bunch of possesion receivers. We need somebody big.




  4. #4
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    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    The problem with trades are they're never as easy as we make them sound. I'm sure Oakland fans thought they could get a day 1 pick for Randy Moss last year (and boy do they wish they had now).

    Suggs for Williams might seem like an equal trade on the surface, but I think that we might be forced to kick in a pick. Suggs is a great pass rusher, but he's coming off a very vanilla year. He's been in the league 5 years and is looking at a very large contract now. Roy Williams has been in the league 4 years, probably has two years left on his deal, is coming off his 2nd best year in his career...

    I'd love to have him here, but I think it's not as simple as Suggs for Williams, especially since Suggs may not agree to a long term deal there.
    .
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    “When I think of a Baltimore Raven - we go in there, we take your lunch box, we take your sandwich, we take your juice box, we take your applesauce, and we take your spork and we break it. And we leave you with an empty lunch. That’s the Baltimore Raven way.” - Steve Smith Sr.


    Call me a Special Teams coach again. I dare you! I double dare you, MFer!




  5. #5
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    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    Third, Fitz will never happen. He poses a $12+ Million cap hit (not counting if JO and others go to pasture), if he gets the money he wants. Fiscally, we cant make it happen.
    Typically, when a big-money deal gets signed, the immediate cap hit is reduced by a lot; the salary for the first couple years is usually extremely small, with the big numbers coming in future years. A sign and trade for Fitzgerald, coupled with extending him, would wipe out the astronomical number he has this year and replace it with something less than half that size, probably the vet minimum salary plus about 1/6th of the signing bonus thanks to proration (1/6th is assuming a six-year deal, it could be anywhere from five to eight IMO). Even if you assume he gets something like $18 million in guaranteed money, his first year of the contract will have a cap hit of about $4 million (again assuming six years). That would fit in the space being freed up just from Suggs's contract expiring; remember, he hit a big escalator that made his cap number much larger this past season.

    Again, I don't know the whole cap picture, and we might not have the room to make it happen, as you've said, but even if you assume we take a first-round QB and need to keep room under the cap for his contract, I don't think bringing in some fresh talent is out of the question. I just don't think we can do it and keep Suggs at the same time; we either re-sign Suggs long-term or shop him around while we can still get something back for him.




  6. #6

    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    Bernard Berrian is a free agent too I believe, and is worth checking out.

    Are those Roy Williams being shopped for a #2 rumors actually true?!

    I would show Roy Williams the money out of that group. Man would I love to see him in Baltimore. I'm following that one closely.

    Yes, I'd give up Suggs if it meant getting Roy Williams long term at WR. Pleaes don't hurt me?
    I'd also do Suggs for Williams or be tempted to see what happens there. I think there is a check the Ravens might get the extra pick kicked in. Suggs is the premiere pass rusher on the market after Jared Allen.
    Just win baby...




  7. #7
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    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    Quote Originally Posted by Gabrosin View Post
    Typically, when a big-money deal gets signed, the immediate cap hit is reduced by a lot; the salary for the first couple years is usually extremely small, with the big numbers coming in future years. A sign and trade for Fitzgerald, coupled with extending him, would wipe out the astronomical number he has this year and replace it with something less than half that size, probably the vet minimum salary plus about 1/6th of the signing bonus thanks to proration.
    You're using a new signee calculation for a veteran. He is contracted to earn $14+ next year and a combined $32 million in two years -- thats MINUS any bonuses. He is a cap killer right in the door. Here is a blurb from PFT:

    "It remains to be seen whether the Cardinals will try to trade Fitzgerald. Due to escalators in his contract, he's scheduled to earn salaries of $14.59 million in 2008 and $17.355 million in 2009. That's nearly $32 million over two years, and then he'll hit the open market at only 26 years of age."
    WARNING: This post may contain material offensive to those who lack wit, humor, common sense and/or supporting factual or anecdotal evidence. All statements and assertions contained herein may be subject to literary devices not limited to: irony, metaphor, allusion and dripping sarcasm.




  8. #8
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    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    Doesn't the bonus get incurred by the team that signed him with a trade?
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    “When I think of a Baltimore Raven - we go in there, we take your lunch box, we take your sandwich, we take your juice box, we take your applesauce, and we take your spork and we break it. And we leave you with an empty lunch. That’s the Baltimore Raven way.” - Steve Smith Sr.


    Call me a Special Teams coach again. I dare you! I double dare you, MFer!




  9. #9
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    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    You're using a new signee calculation for a veteran. He is contracted to earn $14+ next year and a combined $32 million in two years -- thats MINUS any bonuses. He is a cap killer right in the door.
    Yes, his CURRENT contract is terrible for the salary cap, and we wouldn't be able to trade for him without getting him to sign a contract extension (nor would we want to, as we'd only have him for two years). But when a player signs a long-term contract extension, the remaining years of the deal can (and usually are) altered as part of it. The most likely outcome would be that both of those years, in salary terms, would be reduced to the veteran minimum for Fitzgerald based on his tenure in the league, and the money that's "going away" from those years would be "given back" in the form of a guaranteed signing bonus, which makes BOTH parties happy: Fitzgerald gets the money guaranteed, up-front, regardless of whether he blows out a knee or turns into a pumpkin or whatever; the team gets to spread out the cap hit of all that money over the life of the contract, and the longer the contract the less the cap impact in the current year. The risk involved in this practice is that if a team cuts or trades the player with years remaining on his deal, the remaining cap hit has to be absorbed immediately, or in special cases spread out evenly over two years. That's why it may be cheaper for us to keep Steve McNair rather than cut him; his cap number would probably go up, not down, because 60% of his signing bonus (prorated over years 3-5 of the deal) has yet to impact the cap. On the other hand, Ogden, I think, has reached the point where his retirement would wind up being a savings in cap terms, because his signing bonus distributed over the remaining years is less than the large annual salary built in to the end of the contract.

    Look at it this way: if those two cap-killing years weren't fixable through a contract extension, why would anyone be talking about trading for him?




  10. #10
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    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    One guy I'd like to see come here: Bryant Johnson. Baltimore native, he's been stuck behind Boldin and Fitzgerald in Arizona. Maybe he's not the big name receiver, but I think he'd improve here with a bigger role in our offense. Plus, you could probably get him for pretty cheap...
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    “When I think of a Baltimore Raven - we go in there, we take your lunch box, we take your sandwich, we take your juice box, we take your applesauce, and we take your spork and we break it. And we leave you with an empty lunch. That’s the Baltimore Raven way.” - Steve Smith Sr.


    Call me a Special Teams coach again. I dare you! I double dare you, MFer!




  11. #11
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    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    Quote Originally Posted by Gabrosin View Post
    Look at it this way: if those two cap-killing years weren't fixable through a contract extension, why would anyone be talking about trading for him?
    Yeah, I see your point. But there are teams that need a receiver AND have loads of cap room for the big contract. Given his current contract, Im sure he is looking for something in the 3-5 year range with a total around $50 Million for the later -- that's, at a minimum, a $10 million a year hit on the cap.

    Maybe if we can shame JO AND Mcnair into pasture it can work (and ship out Suggs), but I just dont see it happening. Dont get me wrong, I'd love to have Fitz here.
    WARNING: This post may contain material offensive to those who lack wit, humor, common sense and/or supporting factual or anecdotal evidence. All statements and assertions contained herein may be subject to literary devices not limited to: irony, metaphor, allusion and dripping sarcasm.




  12. #12

    Re: Offseason Watch: Receivers

    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonRaven View Post
    Yeah, I see your point. But there are teams that need a receiver AND have loads of cap room for the big contract. Given his current contract, Im sure he is looking for something in the 3-5 year range with a total around $50 Million for the later -- that's, at a minimum, a $10 million a year hit on the cap.

    Maybe if we can shame JO AND Mcnair into pasture it can work (and ship out Suggs), but I just dont see it happening. Dont get me wrong, I'd love to have Fitz here.

    Wow, stop spouting off.. don't keep talking of what you do not know. Larry Fitz would not have, if signed to a long term, new contract a cap number anywhere near $10m. With the new Ravens style of doing things, and him already being an All Pro at a young age, it would probabloy be around $3m. Three tiered Bonus, 7 year deal, vet min salaries. The stupid uber cap numbers for 4 years.




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