AFC North Notes: Colts, Mack, Ravens, Stanley, Humphrey

After his first season with more than 1,000 yards rushing, Marlon Mack isn’t assured the starting role in the Colts‘ backfield. Head coach Frank Reich says he’ll have a leg up on second-round pick Jonathan Taylor, but he also says that fans shouldn’t get too hung up on the RB1 designation.

There’s definitely inherent respect for the starter returning,” Reich said (via Kevin Bowen of 105.7 The Fan). “I see it as a 1-1 (punch). The way the league has gone and the way role playing has been elevated in our league, it’s made it prominent. We used to say in San Diego that when we had Danny Woodhead. He was not our starter, he was our ‘role playing’ starter. He played such a significant role. He had 80 catches in a year. You look at a guy like Nyehim Hines. We talk about Marlon and Jonathan, but what about Nyheim? He’s such a good third-down back that he’ll play a prominent (role). In some ways, (Hines) is a starter. He’s a role-playing starter.”

Right now, it seems like Mack will have to prove himself all over in camp as he gets set for his final year under contract. As it stands, he’s set to make $2.13MM in base salary before reaching the open market in March of 2021.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • After turning in a stellar season, Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley could become the league’s highest-paid non-quarterback, ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley writes. Currently, Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack ($23.5MM per year) leads the way, followed by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ($22.5MM). This year, fellow left tackle Laremy Tunsil ($22MM/year) put himself in that neighborhood, but Stanley is likely to leapfrog him. In 2019, Stanley allowed Lamar Jackson to be pressured just six times, the lowest total of any offensive tackle in 14 years.
  • The Ravens have other deals on their agenda, of course, including a new contract for Marlon Humphrey. With all due respect for Stanley, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic argues that the cornerback should actually be priority No. 1. When it comes to Stanley, his comp has already been set, thanks to the Tunsil deal. Meanwhile, time is of the essence with Humphrey – the top of the CB market will be reset soon with Jalen Ramsey, Marshon Lattimore, and Tre’Davious White all due for new deals.
  • The Browns went ahead with their gradual re-opening plan with Phase 1 beginning on Monday (Twitter link). Meanwhile, other clubs are still working on alternative plans. The Raiders, who were set to hold camp in Napa, California, may shift to their new headquarters in Henderson, Nevada.
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14 comments on “AFC North Notes: Colts, Mack, Ravens, Stanley, Humphrey

  1. wagner13

    Mack might be one of the few open market runningbacks to actually earn a decent payday. He could be short of 700 carries by the end of this season, meaning he’ll still have enough left in the tank to remain productive for 3-4 more seasons.

    In other news, what seems like a fair contract for Stanley? 4 years/96 million?

  2. Technically correct

    Reich is correct. They should care about putting the best product on the field and that does involve financial considerations. We’ve already seen this manifested in how RB contracts are being evaluated. Good, cheap depth is currently a market inefficiency and essential if you are trying to win.

    Public opinion needs to catch up because a three down back (not that Mack was anyway) is not necessarily in every real life team’s best interest. They can actually be better off with some specialists (like the Woodhead reference) or even a change of pace back to keep everyone fresh (like the Saints prolific Ingram and Kamara duo had been). The league has already started to evolve in that regard, especially when you consider we are in the age of concussions. Injury is also unpredictable. Seattle was literally signing guys off the street last year and San Francisco nearly won a Super Bowl thanks to their 4th stringer getting an opportunity and taking advantage. Unfortunately, we get hung up on RB1/starter designations thanks to their importance in the lucrative fantasy community.

    It’s also a sneaky preemptive move for management on the Hilton front. You were all going to complain about Hilton being too old this year and injured all the time, so showing a plan for a successful transition with RB helps a potential tough decision on a franchise WR for next year.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Coaches always come out raving about having role players when they lack a true game changer. Having to rely on Woodhead got the Chargers a 4-12 record.

      • Technically correct

        Woodhead was not the plan. They had Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, and the hotshot rookie Melvin Gordon who just torched the NCAA better than everyone not named Barry Sanders. He was supposed to be their game changer, 3 down workhorse. But he finished on IR with 184 carries for 641 yards, 0 TDs, and 6 fumbles. They continued to try to get him going despite big injuries across the OL since he was a trade up first round RB selection. SD finished the season with a depth chart of Woodhead, Donald Brown, and some guy named Dreamius Smith. They also lost Keenan Allen to IR, washed up Stevie Johnson and Vincent Brown, Gates had a torn MCL, etc. So you are technically correct (my favorite) that having to rely on Woodhead was not good. However, that was certainly not the plan and he ended up with 1000+ total yards and 9 TDs, so his role was not the one that was a problem.

    • wagner13

      To be fair, it doesn’t really make geographic sense to have an Indiana-based team in a southern division

      • dynamite drop in monty

        It makes more sense than when they were in the AFC east at least

        • dcahen

          My recollection was Baltimore was slated for the AFC South & Indy in the AFC Central; but then Ravens owner Art Modell pleaded with Paul Tagliabue to be in the North “with my good friend Art Rooney,” & got his way. Indy was looking to start a new tradition & didn’t put up a fight (actually Indy had pleaded for the NFC North earlier by swapping with Tampa Bay, but GB & Chicago nixed it because they didn’t want to play in another dome, already playing Detroit & Minnesota).

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      If the Colts were in the AFC North, then at least they would have two bad teams in the division (Cleveland and Cincy) instead of just the Jags. As it is they will be lucky just to match last year’s division record of 3-3, assuming they sweep Jacksonville that is (or at least split the series).

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