Late For Work 2/22: Wayne Would ‘Fit Perfectly’ In Baltimore

What’s Wallace worth? Portis or Tomlinson as backup? Tag not a good solution for Grubbs.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 at 9:12 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Wayne Would ‘Fit Perfectly’ In Baltimore

Plenty of wide receivers are set to hit the free-agent market in March, but there may be one in particular that fits Baltimore best.

The Ravens “need” to pursue Colts’ 33-year-old Reggie Wayne, says ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.

Baltimore signed experienced stars to become the third-receiving option for quarterback Joe Flacco with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Lee Evans in 2010 and 11, respectively, but neither produced as much as hoped.

“These moves would’ve been great if the Ravens were playing fantasy football five years ago,” wrote Hensley.

Wayne would be different, Hensley argues, because he is dependable and complements the skills of Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Not to mention, he could be an affordable option because of his age.

“He’s the most accomplished wide receiver in this free-agent class but there will be less competition for him than the younger and more explosive pass-catchers,” wrote Hensley.

“[He] can give Baltimore a legitimate third target at wide receiver, something [Flacco] has never had in four NFL seasons. He would fit perfectly in Baltimore because he is a more effective route-runner than Torrey Smith, is faster than Anquan Boldin and is more dependable than Evans.”

Wayne’s numbers dipped last season (75 catches for 960 yards) without Peyton Manning under center, but Hensley points out that he has averaged 94 catches and 1,246 yards over the past five seasons.

There will be a market competing for Wayne, or he may want to follow Manning wherever he goes. But Hensley says the Ravens have the “inside edge” over other teams because Wayne will want the chance to win the Super Bowl in his twilight years, plus his former college roommate, Ed Reed, could be an effective recruiter.

Hensley says the Ravens should pass on Vincent Jackson (character issues), DeSean Jackson (diva complex), Steve Johnson (not an elite receiver) and Randy Moss (a headache).

GM Acknowledged Steelers Can’t Tag Wallace. What’s He Worth?

For those of you who think bringing Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace to Baltimore is a good idea, you may be interested to know that the team’s general manager, Kevin Colbert, “pretty much acknowledged” that the organization is in no position to franchise him because of salary cap problems, writes Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Steelers are still approximately $10 million over the cap and it would cost more than $9 million to franchise Wallace.

Bouchette says the Steelers are willing to let Wallace test the market as a restricted free agent and decide if they want to match a potential contract offer or take a first-round pick to let him walk.

He argues that Wallace isn’t worth matching any offer higher than the tag price.

“Wallace is good, but not $10 million annually good,” he wrote. ”His first three seasons have been rocket-like, with him climbing higher and higher. However, in the middle of what seemed to be his best and record-setting season, Wallace fizzled. …

“Here’s the question the Steelers and other prospective suitors in free agency must determine: Did defenses figure out Mike Wallace finally as the one-trick pony that Mike Tomlin long declared he was? Wallace is at his best running the ‘go’ routes and outside flag patterns, where he has a chance to outrun someone. However, when faced with cover two defenses and safeties hanging deep, he’s not as effective. He does not seem to fight for the ball at times and even gives up on some when covered.”     

Eisenberg: Tag Not A Good Solution For Grubbs

It’s still considered a long shot, but even if the Ravens and running back Ray Rice manage to agree on a long-term deal before the franchise deadline on March 5, the team shouldn’t use it on guard Ben Grubbs.

At least, that’s what CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg says.

Of course, the team would do flips down 1 Winning Drive if they could keep Flacco, Rice and Grubbs, but not at any cost. Bringing back Grubbs via the tag is “unrealistic” because the cost is too high, says Eisenberg.

Usually, the franchise tag is determined by calculating the top five earners at each individual position, but the offensive line figures are unique because they combine the salaries of guards and tackles.

“While Grubbs mans one of football’s lower-paying positions, his tag price for 2012 (boosted by big contracts given to tackles) would be $9.4 million – way more than any team would pay for a guard,” wrote Eisenberg.

“The Ravens might still figure out a way to keep all three, but tagging Grubbs isn’t going to happen.”

Portis, Tomlinson As Backup In Baltimore?

While The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec suggests it’s still a possibility that Ricky Williams un-retires and returns to Baltimore, Eisenberg believes that Ravens are moving on.

Some of you are too.

A curious fan asked Hensley if the Ravens would be interested in signing other experienced backs like Clinton Portis or LaDainian Tomlinson.

The AFC North blogger didn’t rule either out, but thinks there’s a better option:

“In my time as the Ravens beat reporter, I learned two things: Never discount a former University of Miami player coming there (like Portis) or a player with a connection to a high-ranking coach (Tomlinson with Cam Cameron),” he wrote.

“I actually prefer the idea of Le’Ron McClain because he would serve three roles: backup tailback, backup fullback and special teams player.”

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