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Late For Work 3/9: Speculating Pats Could Try To Steal Webb

Florio: Ravens shouldn’t extend Flacco. Birk reportedly wants to play a couple more years.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, March 9th, 2012 at 9:04 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Speculating Pats Could Try To Steal Webb

Remember when analysts were speculating the Ravens could make a move to nab receiver Mike Wallace from the Pittsburgh Steelers? You know, before Ozzie Newsome squashed the idea at the combine.

The same kind of logic is being applied to another scenario in which the New England Patriots could try to steal top cornerback Lardarius Webb from Baltimore.

Only in this scenario, there is a twist that could make the move more plausible. The Pats have not one, but two, late first-round picks.

It could happen,” insists CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

Under the new CBA, the price for signing other teams’ top restricted free agents dropped significantly from a first- and third-round pick to just a first-rounder. Plus the new team would also have to offer a contract that the former team won’t match.

The Patriots own the 27th and 31st overall picks in the 2012 draft, and giving up that latter may not seem like too steep of a price for the “forward thinking” Bill Belichick. After all, Webb is a proven and young (26) commodity that could not only bolster one of the worst pass defenses from 2011, but could also hurt an AFC rival.

“Sounds like a pretty interesting idea to me, especially since the Patriots would still have a pick in the first round, the 27th overall,” wrote Eisenberg.

“The 31st overall pick in the NFL draft seldom generates a lot of conversation. It’s so far down in the first round that it’s almost a second-round pick.”

Newsome has expressed doubt that organizations would give up a first-round selection for another team’s tendered free agent because executives around the league covet draft picks.

That belief may be manifesting itself in decisions over the next couple of days. Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson reported yesterday that the Ravens are expected to assign a first-round tender to Webb, and Cary Williams, before the market opens Tuesday.

It’s a risky move, says Mike Florio of PFT.com, who believes the Ravens should do more than tender Webb to shield him from potential suitors.

“If I’m the New England Patriots, with the 31st overall pick, and there’s a first-round tender on Lardarius Webb, I’m happily giving up that 31st overall pick if I can get Webb. Front loaded contract, something the Ravens can’t or won’t match.

“The Ravens need to protect themselves against that now. They need to get Webb signed. He is on the rise and he is going to help that defense get better.”

Florio: Don’t Extend Joe Flacco

Agent Joe Linta has said his client is a top-5 quarterback based on total wins during his four-year career.

If that means Linta believes Joe Flacco should get top-5 money, Florio offers advice to both sides: wait one more year before trying to agree to a new contract.

“I think with Joe Flacco, the Ravens should use the promise of the kind of money he’s looking for as a way to get the absolute most out of him in 2012,” said Florio. “Let’s see what he does chasing that contract. Let’s see what he does with a chip on his shoulder.

“Worst-case scenario, you give him the franchise tag in 2013. Let him go out there and prove he’s an elite quarterback if that’s how he wants to be paid.”

The PFT.com scribe doesn’t mean his opinion to be a slight on Flacco. He calls himself a big Joe Flacco fan and believes the quarterback gets too little credit and too much criticism.

But Florio points out that two of the top quarterbacks in the league – Peyton Manning (twice) and Drew Brees – have finished out their contracts. He argues waiting another year will ultimately be better for both sides.

“It’s going to be good for him in the long run and it’s going to be good for the team in the long run,” Florio said. “Let him prove it and then pay him if he gets it done.

“I think under those circumstances he will prove it. I think under those circumstances the Ravens will be very happy to give him what he wants.”

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Birk Wants To Play For More Yearssss (Plural)

At the conclusion of each of the last two seasons, center Matt Birk has taken time to contemplate retirement.

This year, the wait for Birk’s decision ended at the combine when his agent announced Birk would like to return for another year.

Turns out, however, the 35-year-old unrestricted free agent thinks he can play beyond 2012.

A source “with knowledge of Birk’s thinking” told PFT.com that the 15-year veteran feels “great” and wants to play a couple more years. Birk has not yet been heard from on the topic.

Birk has expressed a strong interest in returning to the Ravens. Meanwhile, Newsome has said the Ravens will have a new center on the roster for 2012, but did not reveal whether that would be through the draft or free agency, or whether that new player would be a starter.

“[The Ravens have] been linked to Wisconsin’s Peter Konz, regarded as the best center in the 2012 draft, in numerous mock drafts,” wrote Eisenberg.

“If Birk and Konz are on the roster in 2012, Birk could mentor the younger player and pave the way for an eventual change in the middle of the line.”

Quick Hits

  • AdamSchein: DeCosta: “We want Joe Flacco to finish his career in Baltimore” [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: According to U. Miami, Ravens area scout Joe Douglas and assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington attended the Pro Day workout [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: The Baltimore Ravens attended Louisville WR Josh Bellamy’s Pro Day workout, as did the Saints, Seahawks, Packers and Bengals. [Twitter]
  • Apparently NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams reported, “The Baltimore Colts” released Peyton Manning. He never corrected himself, but the mistake was noted online. The network’s Luke Russert tweeted, “If Brian Williams says they’re the ‘Baltimore Colts’ they’re the Baltimore Colts.” [CSNBaltimore.com]

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