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No Deal For Flacco A ‘Distinct Possibility’
Even though the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco both want to work out a contract extension before the start of the season, it appears it may not happen.
Instead, Flacco could play out the final year of his five-year rookie contract in 2012, according to multiple reports.
“Contract talks between [them] have continued and have been amicable, but the sides are not close to a deal and it’s unlikely they bridge the gap quickly,” wrote NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora. “Playing out his final season under contract is the mostly likely outcome for 2012.”
The Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson added, “There’s a distinct possibility that a new long-term contract may not get done this year …”
Neither report indicated there is any rift between the two sides – quite the contrary.
Flacco has participated in offseason work and sources told La Canfora that he has no plans to hold out. The fifth-year quarterback told BaltimoreRavens.com last week he is treating this offseason like any other and doesn’t want to get involved in contract talks. He is letting his agent and Ravens brass take care of the process.
Two factors appear to be preventing the two sides from closing the gap: timing and the Ravens’ tight salary-cap situation.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is expected to set the market, but he remains unsigned. The two sides can afford to wait to see what happens in New Orleans as Flacco isn’t threatening to hold out, as noted previously.
“Both sides very much want to work out a long-term deal, but the timing has to be right,” wrote La Canfora. “There isn’t a sense of immediacy that a deal must get done before the season starts, and at this point it’s not expected that will change.”
While the Ravens can always move money around to create salary-cap space, they are currently strapped for cash. They are reportedly only $1.653 million under the cap limit with Flacco reportedly due $8 million.
Wilson says the tight cap space could very well prevent a new deal, and the Ravens have not “approached other players about restructuring their deals and aren’t inclined to cut players to create more cap room.”
Whether Flacco actually finishes out his rookie contract remains to be seen. Both the Ravens and Flacco’s agent have repeatedly said they are committed to working out a new deal. And there is still plenty of time for them to do so as the season is still more than four months away.
“The framework for a potential deal exists amid the deals other quarterbacks have signed, but finding that sweet spot can be tricky … and time-consuming,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.
Grading Each Pick Since 2008
The Ravens are one of the best on draft weekend.
You would be hard-pressed to find any draft guru to disagree.
After digging deeper, however, the folks at Pro Football Focus believe the Ravens could have been better in the last three drafts.
The website assigned every Ravens draft pick from 2008 to 2010 a grade ranging from +2.0, meaning “You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round,” to -2.0, signifying “You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!”
The grades are given out in increments of 0.5 and assigned to players based on where he was drafted, his performance, his contribution and other factors that couldn’t have been accounted for (injuries for example).
The highest grade any Ravens draft pick received since 2008 was cornerback Lardarius Webb, who received a +1.5 grade, meaning the team got much more than it bargained for. He was selected 88th overall in 2009 and went on to become one of the league’s best at his position.
Flacco (18th pick) and running back Ray Rice (55) both received a +1.0 grade, indicating “The scouts nailed it!”
Earning a +0.5 grade, a.k.a “It never hurts to find a solid contributor,” were safety Haruki Nakamura (206) and tight end Dennis Pitta (114).
“It could have been worse,” (0.0 grade) was assigned to safety Tom Zbikowski (86), wide receivers Marcus Smith (106), Justin Harper (215) and David Reed (156), running back Cedric Peerman (185), outside linebacker Paul Kruger (57), defensive tackles Terrence Cody (57) and Art Jones (157) and tackle Ramon Harewood (194).
“The pick was not put to good use” (- 0.5 grade) was given to linebacker Tavares Gooden (71), tackle David Hale (133), running back Allen Patrick (240), tackle Michael Oher (23), tight ends Davon Drew (149) and Ed Dickson (70) and linebacker Jason Phillips (137).
The “What a waste” (- 1.0 grade) category included tackle Oniel Cousins (99) and outside linebacker Sergio Kindle (43).
The Ravens didn’t score any -1.5 and -2.0 grades.
If asked for their evaluations, Ravens brass would likely disagree with the grades given to Oher, Kruger and Dickson. The team believes Oher can still be a left tackle, Kruger is in line to become the starting outside linebacker in place of the departed Jarret Johnson and Dickson is the Ravens’ starting tight end, who caught 54 passes in 2011.
Will Upshaw Fall To No. 29?
General Manager Ozzie Newsome would probably be elated to see Alabama defensive end Courtney Upshaw still on the board when the Ravens are on the clock at No. 29 Thursday night.
That’ exactly what happened in the ESPN blogger mock draft, where each division blogger made a pick on behalf of the teams in his corresponding division.
Making the selection for the Ravens, Jamison Hensley selected Upshaw, noting the 6-foot-2, 272-pounder could help fill in Johnson and rush the passer opposite Terrell Suggs.
“The Ravens are always looking for pass rushers, and Upshaw gives them another tone-setter on defense,” wrote Hensley. “He replaces Jarret Johnson in Baltimore’s base defense and plays opposite of Terrell Suggs as an edge rusher in passing situations. Upshaw has drawn comparisons to LaMarr Woodley, so you know he’s an AFC North-type of player.”
An ESPN report says New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis had the ability to eavesdrop on gameday communications of opposing coaches from 2002 to 2004 with a listening devise. The franchise denied the allegations, saying they are “1,000 percent false,” and even threatened legal action against the network for the report. [ESPN/FoxSports.com]