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Late For Work 8/30: 6 Questions: Could Ravens Cut A Big Name?

Plus where does Evans/Boldin rank among WR combos? Who’s more important: Lewis or Reed?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 at 9:11 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Biggest Questions Facing Ravens

Yesterday, “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN radio asked and answered five questions facing the Ravens. Coincidently, John Eisenberg of CSNBaltimore.com did the same thing.

But the two Q&A’s had completely different feels. Speaking to a national crowd, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic asked broader questions that fans around the country could debate. Eisenberg, on the other hand, asked here-and-now questions that local fans are awaiting answers to in the next couple of weeks.

I took my favorites from each and present them for you to debate:

Is Joe Flacco the best NFL quarterback under the age of 30?

There are quite a few quarterbacks under the age of 30. Here are some of the more popular: Sam Bradford, Jason Campbell, Matt Cassell, Jimmy Clausen, Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Freeman, Kevin Kolb, Colt McCoy, Kyle Orton, Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rogers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford, Tim Tebow and Vince Young.

Both Mikes agreed that Ryan deserves the honor, but Greenberg wanted to make it clear that Flacco more than holds his own, saying, “Flacco, I think, sometimes gets more flack than he deserves. You can win the Super Bowl with him as your quarterback, not hiding him.”

Do the Ravens go with Tyrod Taylor as their No. 2 quarterback?

By week’s end, there may be a veteran quarterback that is cut and draws the Ravens’ attention. But the team could also choose to save a coveted roster spot and some salary cap space by sticking with their sixth-round pick.

What to do? What to do?

“It’s tempting [to stick with Taylor] because of Flacco’s durability, but on the other hand, the Ravens slept soundly at night last year knowing they had Marc Bulger,” wrote Eisenberg. “Close call here.”

Where do receivers Lee Evans and Anquan Boldin rank among WR combos?

Sight unseen, Boldin and Evans have made it into this conversation. The two receivers have never played with each other, and Evans only has two preseason games with Flacco. On paper, the duo complements each other well, with the physical Boldin working the middle of the field and the speedy Evans going deep.

Until proven on the field, Golic and Greenberg couldn’t put the Ravens pair above others like Miles Austin/Dez Bryant in Dallas and DeSean Jackson/Jeremy Maclin in Philadelphia.

“Are they among the top two or three combos in the league?” asked Greenberg. “No. But they’re good. I think they’re more than good enough to win a championship with. Let’s put it that way.”

With roster cuts looming, could the Ravens part ways with a big name?

Well, the Ravens have already let go of big names this offseason: Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Willis McGahee and Kelly Gregg. Would they let go of another?

“Don’t count on it,” Eisenberg wrote. “The advantages of cutting cornerback Domonique Foxworth, one of the team’s highest-paid players, has been a hot topic, but it became clear in the Washington game that the Cary Williams experiment is still just that, an experiment. The Ravens would really be taking a gamble by unloading a proven veteran corner who could join the starting lineup once his rehabbed knee is ready to go, which could be relatively soon.”

Who is the Ravens’ most important defensive player: Ray Lewis or Ed Reed?

As a parent, I feel like this question is akin to asking, “Which child do you love more?.” OK, maybe it’s not that tough, but how do you pick? Each player still produces at a high level, they are both mentors and leaders and they will both be first-ballot Hall of Famers. 

“Ray Lewis is your consistent, great player. Ed Reed is your playmaker on defense,” said Golic. “That’s how I separate those two.”

The Ravens finished the 2010 season with a 12-4 record. What will it be in 2011?

Dubbing Baltimore “the bridesmaid of the division” both Greeny and Golic agreed Baltimore will make it to the playoffs, but with a 10-6 record and finishing behind Pittsburgh.

NFL.com writers also gave their predictions: Jason La Canfora (11-6, second in AFC North), Steve Wyche (9-7, second in AFC North), Pat Kirwan (10-6, second in AFC North), Bucky Brooks (10-6, second in AFC North) and Elliot Harrison (10-6, second in AFC North).

Ravens Remaining Cap Space

Each NFL team can spend up to $362,046,711 on player salaries this season.

Both La Canfora and PFT.com’s Mike Florio reported that, as of yesterday afternoon, the Ravens have $2.3 million left to spend.

Only seven teams have less cap room: Pittsburgh ($2.2 million), Houston ($2.2), Eagles ($2.1), Atlanta ($1.8), St. Louis ($756,538), Detroit ($736,714) and Minnesota ($374,688).

Oniel Cousins Will Stay In AFC North

After getting cut from the Ravens Saturday, Oniel Cousins was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns.

Cousins had a three-year stint in Baltimore after the Ravens selected him in the third round of the 2008 draft. Coming into the 2011 preseason, Cousins was considered one of the top competitors to start at right tackle, but he struggled against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was then moved to guard for the Kansas City Chiefs matchup and didn’t start when the Washington Redskins came to town.

After releasing Cousins, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he saw a future for Cousins at guard.

Quick Hits

  • RavensInsider: Except for Cousins, all of the Ravens’ cuts from Saturday, including WR Justin Harper, have cleared waivers and are now free agents. [Twitter]
  • JasonLaCanfora: With Vick deal now done, franchise players Haloti Ngata and Paul Soliai still in talks with their team. [Twitter]
  • Based on playing time and the timing of the players’ insertion into those contests, Ed Lee says Lardarius Webb has given way to at least Cary Williams and rookie Jimmy Smith on the depth chart. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Cory Redding is helping groom his young successors on the defensive line while maintaining his starting role. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • jamisonhensley: Baltimore’s own continues NFL career  “@AdamSchefter: Former Lions WR Bryant Johnson signed a 1-year contract with the Texans.” [Twitter]
  • Cincinnati Bengals starting running back Cedric Benson was sentenced to 20 days in jail for a prior assault charge in 2010. [Austin-American Statesman].
  • Ricky Williams visited “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on ESPN radio. The Ravens’ new running back talked about his relationship with General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh, among other topics. [ESPN]

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