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Late For Work 3/2: Jarret Reacts To Jets Rumors

Rice’s agent on rumored contract demand. Titans to pursue Nakamura? Ravens-Carr split good.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, March 2nd, 2012 at 9:20 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Jarret Reacts To Jets Rumors

Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan is reportedly setting his sights on another Raven.

Linebacker Jarret Johnson could join a long list of players, including Bart Scott, Derrick Mason and others, that Ryan has plucked out of Baltimore, according to New York Daily News.

Asked about the Jets’ rumored interest, Johnson admitted that he has imagined himself in New York, but only because he has done so for all 32 teams and is preparing himself for every possible scenario.

“I guess a story came out about it and everybody’s just reacting to it, I don’t know what’s going on,” Johnson told Glenn Clark on WNST 1570 AM. “But it’s nothing that I haven’t played out in my mind and I’m prepared for. Whatever happens is going to happen.”

With more than a month to let his mind run wild since the season ended, Johnson said, at this point, “Nothing can really surprise me.”

Double-J, who has started all 16 games for the Ravens over the last five years, said he felt “stressed” the last time he was a free agent five years ago. This time around, however, he is “happy” with his current position because he has been preparing himself all season for the possibility of not returning.

The other thing that brings him comfort is his familiarity with several teams around the league.

In addition to a possible marriage with the Jets and his former coach there, Johnson could also transition smoothly to the Indianapolis Colts, who are also coached by a former Ravens defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano.

“One benefit of having a good team and a defense is good players and good coaches move on, so you get to know a lot of people around the league,” said Johnson. “I know good coaches all over the league because everyone wants a Ravens coach.

“There are a lot of different places where I’d be familiar with at least a couple people within the organization. And that’s good. You don’t want to walk into an organization where you don’t know anybody. We see it all the time during the season; guys coming in and they’re – you don’t want to say petrified – but they’re just kind of shocked. They don’t know anybody. You definitely don’t want to be in that position.”

Once the doors to free agency open, Johnson expects to get attention from more than one team.

But in a “perfect world,” says Johnson, he would strike a new deal with the team that selected him in the fourth round of the 2003 draft.

“I want to win a championship with these guys,” Johnson said. “I’ve been around these guys for a long time, and we’ve been through a lot together, and have always come up short.”

He doesn’t want to fool himself into thinking that a return is a lock, because “you don’t have to be a genius” to understand he is an aging 10-year veteran and there are a number of up-and-coming young players behind him. He said that he knows General Manager Ozzie Newsome won’t put the team in a bad salary-cap situation to bring him back.

But last week at the combine, Newsome expressed a desire to re-sign J.J.

“Jarret is a Raven,” he said. 

From an outsider’s perspective, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley believes the Ravens won’t give up on Johnson easily.

“The Ravens can replace Johnson with Paul Kruger on passing downs, but they really don’t have anyone who can set the edge against the run like Johnson,” wrote Hensley. “That’s why the Ravens aren’t going to let Johnson go without a fight.

Rice’s Agent On Rumored Contract Demand

Ray Rice will reportedly receive the $7.7 million franchise tag today, buying more time for the running back and the Ravens to agree on a long-term contract.

It’s been speculated that negotiations could drag on for a while because of reports that Rice wants a contract that matches Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson’s. His seven-year, $100 million deal is the highest in the league among all backs.

But the Peterson contract demand is only a rumor. Todd France, Rice’s agent, explains:

“Maybe [the rumor began] because people assume since Ray has led the NFL in yards from scrimmage since becoming a full-time starter in 2009 that he should be the highest-paid running back in the NFL,” France told the Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson. “Regardless of where it came from or who said what, I won’t comment on any specifics of our negotiations except to say my focus is to have an amicable negotiation process that results in a long-term contract for our client.”

That said, Rice is still considered one of the top backs in the league and NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi, who is also the former general manager for the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns, told Wilson that Rice should be paid as such, using the Titans’ Chris Johnson and Peterson’s contracts as guides.

“When you get a back like Ray Rice, you have to ask yourself, ‘Does he have a second contract in him?’ and clearly he does,” he said. “What I think you have to do is come up with the best contract  you can that pays him like one of the top five backs in the league and try to structure a deal that fits right there. I’m sure he wants to be the top paid back.

“I’m sure they’ll want to look at Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson’s deals and find some middle ground.”

One issue both sides will have to consider is the length of Rice’s contract. The shelf life of running backs are usually shorter than other positions because they are highly susceptible to injury and can suddenly lose their speed and ability to burst through a hole. Thus, some have said it would be a good idea to take it a year at a time by assigning the franchise tag to Rice both this year and next.

But the right move is to lock up Rice for the long-term and understand that those are risks you just have to accept, says former Houston Texans and Washington Redskins general manager Charlie Casserly.

“There are so many unknowns, and durability is a big thing to consider,” he said. “You have to wonder what’s the breaking point as far as number of hits. You just have to understand that’s part of it. At the end of the day, that doesn’t deter the contract negotiations that much. It comes down wanting to get the best player on the field.

“Yes, you can keep franchising the player until it’s no longer worth it to do so. I don’t think that’s what they have in mind with Rice.”

Titans Interested In Nakamura?

For the first time in years, the Ravensdefensive backfield will enjoy some consistency with starting safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard returning, plus corners Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith.

However, the Ravens will have to address the depth at safety with Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski about to hit the open market as unrestricted free agents.

It looks like Nakamura is already garnering interest. The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt says he expects the Titans to take a close look at the four-year veteran.

No matter what happens there, Baltimore safety/special teamer Haruki Nakamura is another guy I expect the #Titans to pursue in free agency,” he tweeted.

Teammate Bernard Pollard expects both Nakamura and Zbikowski to do well in free agency. He believes that while the two young safeties would get limited time on the field with Baltimore’s vaunted defense, they could get more action elsewhere.

“With Zibby and Haruki, they are two really, really good players and I think they have a chance to go out and get top dollar,” Pollard told BaltimoreRavens.com. “And it’s their turn to be able to go out and test the market.”

Ravens-Carr Split Good For Both Sides

Of the three reported Ravens cuts that could be made today – Chris Carr, Lee Evans and Domonique Foxworth – only one was confirmed by a player himself.

Carr made his departure official, and said he has no hard feelings because he actually thinks it’s best for both sides.

“Thanks everyone in bmore love the team and the city. It’s a business, I think it was the best for both parties,” he tweeted. “Talked to Ozzie and John today much respect… I will miss my teammates the most, boy we had fun!”

Carr was a solid starter for the Ravens in all 16 games in 2010. He has consistently said he considers himself to be a starter in the NFL.

If it weren’t for a hamstring injury that he struggled with throughout the season, Carr may have never lost his starting role.

Thus, with Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith all emerging in Baltimore’s secondary, Carr’s release enables him to go elsewhere to find the role he desires.

Quick Hits

  • JasonLaCanfora: If Foxworth is far enough along physically, maybe he’s back at a much lower price. [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: Ozzie Newsome and Domonique Foxworth met today, physical for Foxworth’s knee in next few days. Still headed in one direction:  releasing him [Twitter]
  • Chris Jones believes Ricky Williams belongs in the Hall of Fame. … “Not because of what he did on the field but because he survived it. He might have been built for football physically, but he wasn’t made for the game in any other way. He talked openly about his anxiety and depression. Every one of those 10,000 yards — 10,009, to be precise — represents a small, singular triumph. When you strip away the myths and lies from Ricky’s story, when you take away all the dumb pot jokes and jockisms, you’ll find someone who fought to remain a man in full in a profession that’s designed to make you less of one.” [ESPN The Magazine]
  • RayRice27: People asking why am I on the train lol why fly  to Baltimore it’s a 2 hour train ride from NY and I am normal [Twitter]
  • Lots of Steelers cuts too … JasonLaCanfora: In addition to Ward and Aaron Smith, Kemoeatu also told by PIT he won’t be back. One LB, Farrior or Foote, also likely to go #insideslant [Twitter]
  • The Ravens running back corps was ranked No. 1 among AFC North units. “Baltimore has one of the best backfields in the NFL, not just the AFC North,” wrote Hensley. [ESPN]

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