Late For Work 7/17: The Ravens’ Next Big Move?

Ravens 18th most valuable pro sports team. Oher tearing up sandpit. J. Lewis in Ring of Honor.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 at 9:22 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

The Ravens’ Next Big Move?

The drama of the last-minute signing is over.

Running back Ray Rice reportedly stepped out of the Under Amour Performance Center just after the deadline yesterday with a smile on his face, exchanging hugs and handshakes outside his car.

You can bet there was a similar scene among Ravens officials inside the training complex, as the two sides were happy to ultimately agree to a new deal.

But it’s already time to look forward.

The Ravens still have two stars who would like a contract extension: quarterback Joe Flacco and safety Ed Reed. Signing Rice gives the Ravens a little more flexibility in doing so because they now have the franchise tag as a safety net and they reportedly have about $3.4 million in cap space, as opposed to about $600,000 yesterday afternoon.

So who’s next to get the front office’s attention?

“Now, signing Flacco becomes the priority,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

But figuring out how much money to give Flacco is a difficult conundrum.

Flacco may be the most-debated quarterback in the league. CBS Sports’ Phil Simms says the fifth-year veteran is not good, but “awesome.” ESPN’s Ron Jaworski believes Flacco has the best arm in the league. But then there are people like the NFL Network’s Jamie Dukes, who say Flacco is at the bottom of the second tier of current NFL quarterbacks.  You’ll find a slew of others taking the middle ground, saying Flacco is good and on the verge of being great.

So what does General Manager Ozzie Newsome do with all of this?

 

 

Flacco’s Contract Up Next

NFL.com’s Michael Lombardi, a former NFL team executive, says it crucial that the Ravens don’t fall into a common trap with signing players, but they may not have a choice.

“[T]here is one big mistake teams can make in terms of cap management: paying good players as if they were great players,” Lombardi wrote. “(See: the NBA.) Good is not great; teams must be disciplined in assessing the difference.”

The problem, says Lombardi, is that the market doesn’t see such distinctions. And so contracts like the one New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees received over the weekend – five years, $100 million – could benefit players like Flacco.

“Flacco, who has one year left on his rookie contract, has clearly shown improvement during his four years in the NFL,” wrote Lombardi. “Flacco, who started his career as a game manager, has grown as a player and is now the reason the Baltimore Ravens can compete for a title. He has the skill set to carry the Ravens — the team’s success is no longer entirely dependent on its defense.

“Flacco’s agent will look at Brees’ contract, note the fact that his client has participated in nine playoff games in just four years and conclude that Flacco deserves a deal similar to Brees’ (with incentives that would make it even to Brees’ deal if Flacco wins a Super Bowl). Is this realistic? No, because Flacco is just an above-average quarterback right now. But he does have real potential to be great in the near future, making his contract hard to execute at this time, especially after the Brees deal.”

Lombardi believes the Ravens want to keep Flacco’s contract under $15 million per year based on what he has done so far, but the rules of free agency (the franchise tag in 2013 would give him close to that) and the fact that Baltimore wouldn’t be able to easily replace Flacco “make that goal unrealistic.”

“The Ravens will therefore pay Flacco like he is great now and hope he proves them right, sooner rather than later,” Lombardi concluded.

Jamal Lewis To Be Inducted Into Ring Of Honor

If WNST had broken this news on any other day than yesterday, it would have been the headline everyone was talking about.

With ticket holders starting to get their season tickets in the mail, they will see former Ravens running back Jamal Lewis donning the cover of the Week 4 ticket.

Thus the WNST staff concluded, “Hosting the Cleveland Browns in a Thursday night game on Sept. 27, the Ravens will induct former running back Jamal Lewis into their Ring of Honor at halftime.”

The fifth-overall pick of the 2000 draft, Lewis became the Ravens’ all-time leading rusher with 7,801 career rushing yards in seven seasons. He was also an integral part of Ravens’ Super Bowl XXV championship team.

Radio host Thyrl Nelson posted a picture of the Week 4 ticket (to the right).

Ravens 18th-Most Valuable Pro Sports Team In World

Steve Bisciotti has to be feeling pretty decent about his decision to purchase and become the sole owner of the Ravens in 2004.

Last year the team was ranked at No. 12, so while it’s ranking went down, the estimated overall value increased from $1.07 billion in 2011 to $1.09 in 2012.

Apparently the franchise is now the 18th-most valuable professional sports team in the world, according to Forbes magazine’s annual list released yesterday.

The Ravens have averaged 10 wins a season and advanced to the playoffs eight times since Bisciotti bought 49 percent ownership stake of the team in 2000.

All 32 NFL clubs rank in Forbes’ top 50, with the Baltimore franchise being the 10th most valuable in the league. The Ravens follow behind the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

European soccer team Manchester United topped all pro sports team with an estimated value of $2.23 billion.

Oher Tearing Up Sandpit

 

 

Michael Oher Sand Pit

OK, it’s not exactly like the video of Rice running up and down stadium stairs with two kegs lifted above his head, but tackle Michael Oher is seriously impressive in this sandpit workout.

Oher tweeted out the video, with the caption, “Working!!”

How in the world does a 6-foot-4, 315-pounder move like that? Craziness.

Confusion. Where Does Rice’s Deal Rank Among RBs?

Player contracts are extremely detailed and convoluted with layers of incentives and escalators, so it appears there’s a little confusion as to where Rice’s contract ranks among current NFL backs.

It probably also depends on what criteria you use to rank them.

For example, ESPN NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt looked at just the first three years of cash for Rice ($29 million), Arian Foster ($30 million) and Chris Johnson ($31 million), concluding Rice falls just below the other two.

But what about their overall value?

Well, The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec concluded that Rice (five-year, $40 million contract, $24 million guaranteed is now the third-highest paid running back in the league behind Johnson and Adrian Peterson.

But Eisenberg concludes, “[T]he deal’s total value is smaller than the deals signed by other top running backs such as Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy and Houston’s Arian Foster since the end of last season.”

Hhhhmmmm.

Quick Hits

  • Matt Williamson argues that the Ravens had “no choice” but to sign Rice. I think Ozzie would disagree – in fact he was minutes away from allowing him to play on the franchise tag until Rice, his agent and lawyers walked into the building. But his overall point is understood, Rice is really, really important to this offense and the Ravens didn’t want to lose him. [ESPN]
  • Jamison Hensley ranks Terrell Suggs as the 15th-best player in the AFC North. Before you get all angry at the ranking that seems ridiculous for putting the Defensive Player of the Year so low on his list, Hensley explains these are projected rankings for next year, and Suggs likely won’t see much action with his Achilles tendon injury. [ESPN]
  • @ProFootballTalk: Steve McNair Jr. continues college career at Midwestern State
  • [Twitter]@SimplyAJ10 [Orioles All-Star outfielder Adam Jones]: Congrats to my dude @RayRice27 on his new contract. Let’s do something special in Bmore for years to come my man. Ball outrageous. [Twitter]
  • @Ravens: Ray Rice’s agent, Todd France, says @RayRice27 was planning to miss camp and even perhaps some games if he didn’t sign. @WNST [Twitter]
  • @334Upshaw41: Man cave is going to look good once I get my high school and my all star all American jerseys done..my own museum lol [Twitter]
  • @Artj97: Just finished another amazing workout. Can the season get here already. I’ve got something to prove! [Twitter]
  • If you are in the mood for a little back and forth between Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, here’s a video of the two debating whether Simms is right in saying Flacco is awesome. [ESPN]

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