Ravens Rumors

Matt Judon To Be Tag-And-Trade Candidate

After locking up Marcus Peters, the Ravens have Matt Judon looming as their top in-house priority. But a team that has frequently let edge rushers walk after big contract years is not a lock to retain him.

The Ravens are preparing to use their franchise tag on Judon and will be ready to take trade inquiries on the Pro Bowl outside linebacker, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports. While the Ravens want to retain Judon, Schefter notes they are likely prepared to listen to offers. This would make sense on multiple fronts yet strip the already edge-rush-needy Ravens of their top sack artist.

The Ravens have let several pass rushers walk in free agency in recent years. Paul Kruger, Pernell McPhee and Za’Darius Smith defected in free agency after standout contract years. Terrell Suggs, Baltimore’s edge anchor for so many seasons, left last year after his most recent Ravens contract expired. Baltimore recouped subsequent compensatory rewards.

The tag-and-trade market for edge rushers also heated up last year. More tagged edges ended up playing for other teams this season than the teams that applied the tag. Dee Ford, Frank Clark and Jadeveon Clowney were dealt, with the Seahawks collecting by far the top trade haul (Chiefs first- and second-round picks). Judon would naturally generate interest. However, he is on the older end for a player with four years’ experience — set to turn 28 before next season — and will command a contract that perhaps pushes toward $20MM annually.

Clark (zero Pro Bowls as a Seahawk) and DeMarcus Lawrence (two with the Cowboys) became the second- and third-highest-paid edge defenders last year. The Lions gave Trey Flowers (no Pro Bowls) an $18MM-per-year pact with higher guarantees than either, while the Packers gave Smith (no Pro Bowls as a Raven) $16.5MM. With the cap set to approach $200MM, Judon’s price will not be cheap. The 2019 Pro Bowler is coming off a career-high 9.5 sacks and a Ravens-record 33 quarterback hits (since the stat became tracked in 2006). Judon also proved more consistent than Smith in Baltimore, combining for 15 sacks between the 2017-18 seasons.

The Ravens are projected to hold more than $28MM in cap space. A Judon tag — if he’s tagged as a linebacker — would cost nearly $16MM. John Harbaugh acknowledged recently it might be difficult to keep Judon, and the Ravens also have Michael Pierce, Patrick Onwuasor and Jimmy Smith set for free agency.

Judon is among a lengthy list of impact pass rushers set for free agency. Clowney, Shaquil Barrett, Arik Armstead, Yannick Ngakoue, Bud Dupree, Dante Fowler and Jason Pierre-Paul headline this group. While the Buccaneers are planning to keep Barrett, it will be interesting to see how this market shapes up in the weeks between now and free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Ravens, Brady, Mosley

We heard at the end of December that the Ravens are prepared to slap pass rusher Matt Judon with the franchise tag if they cannot work out a long-term deal with him, but recent comments from head coach John Harbaugh suggested Judon could be suiting up elsewhere in 2020. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic says Baltimore may be disinclined to use the tag, as it would take up a big chunk of their cap and could alienate the emotional and outspoken Judon.

On the other hand, Judon is the only proven pass rusher on the team, and there’s no guarantee the Ravens can win a bidding war for one of this year’s top FAs or land a player at the bottom of the first round of the draft who can make an immediate impact, so GM Eric DeCosta will have to carefully weigh a number of factors.

Let’s round up a few other AFC items, starting with several more nuggets out of Baltimore:

  • The Ravens and veteran CB Jimmy Smith have mutual interest in a reunion, per Zrebiec. However, if Baltimore brings back Smith, it’s unlikely that CB/S Brandon Carr also returns. Meanwhile, the Ravens will almost certainly cut safety Tony Jefferson.
  • Regardless of what they do with Judon, the Ravens will have to add three or four starting-caliber players to their front seven, so Zrebiec expects the team to focus on those areas heavily in the draft, and he fully expects DeCosta to draft a WR or two.
  • Add Jay Glazer of The Athletic to the list of pundits who believe a Tom BradyRaiders partnership makes sense. Like others, Glazer thinks the Chargers are an obvious non-Patriots landing spot, but given the international presence that the Las Vegas outfit is expected to have, both Brady and the team would stand to benefit from a Sin City marriage.
  • In a recent interview with Eddie Paskal of the team’s official website, Raiders GM Mike Mayock said he believes the move to Las Vegas will help the club attract top free agents, even those not named Brady. The fact that Nevada does not have a state income tax will obviously be appealing, as will the sleek new stadium and the general excitement surrounding the franchise. Mayock also noted that he will look to add wide receiver help this offseason.
  • Jets LB C.J. Mosley had to undergo groin/abdominal surgery about six weeks ago, but he expects to be ready for the team’s offseason program this spring, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. One of last year’s biggest free agent fish, Mosley played in just two games for Gang Green, and he has started a vegan diet in the hopes of giving himself an edge.

Eagles To Interview USC’s Graham Harrell For OC Job

The Eagles will look to the college ranks during their offensive coordinator search, with Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweeting USC OC Graham Harrell is set to interview for the job.

A former Texas Tech quarterback who spent time with the Packers and Jets in the 2010s, Harrell was the Trojans’ OC last season. He stepped into that role after Kliff Kingsbury abruptly left the position to become the Cardinals’ head coach.

Harrell is a Mike Leach disciple, playing in the pass-happy coach’s Air Raid offense in Lubbock, Texas, before following him to Washington State and serving as the Cougars’ wide receivers coach after his NFL career ended. Harrell, 34, spent three years as North Texas’ offensive coordinator before becoming USC’s OC in 2019. Kingsbury took that job in December 2018 but soon accepted the Cards’ job offer.

USC ranked 20th last season with 454 yards per game, improving significantly from its 382.6 average in 2018. This occurred after sophomore quarterback J.T. Daniels went down with a season-ending injury in Week 1, thrusting true freshman Kedon Slovis into the Trojans’ lineup. Harrell still stands as an unorthodox candidate, with his last connection to the NFL being as a reserve quarterback after going undrafted in 2009. He finished fourth in the 2008 Heisman voting, teaming with Michael Crabtree to lead Texas Tech to an 11-2 season as a senior.

The Eagles fired Mike Groh after two seasons on the job. They’ve been connected to Jim Caldwell and ex-Redskins OC Kevin O’Connell for the job. The Rams, however, hired O’Connell to be their OC. The Eagles also had Ravens QBs coach James Urban as a canidadate, but John Harbaugh confirmed Friday he took himself out of the running after interviewing for the job.

Eagles Interested In James Urban

The Eagles are interested in Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban as a candidate for their offensive coordinator vacancy, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Urban has been credited with developing Lamar Jackson into one of the league’s premier quarterbacks and he could be ripe for a move up the ladder.

Urban also offers familiarity with the organization. Prior to joining the Ravens, he spent years in Philly on Andy Reid‘s staff. Ironically, he went on to become part of the Ravens’ braintrust that pushed for a trade up with the Eagles in the 2018 draft to select Jackson. The Eagles, who then had both Carson Wentz and Nick Foles under contract, had no real place for Jackson.

The Eagles surprised many when they fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh earlier this offseason. Since then, they’ve been researching OC candidates including former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, as well as former Redskins OC Kevin O’Connell.

NFL Reserve/Futures Contracts: 1/15/20

Today’s reserve/futures deals:

Baltimore Ravens

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

  • DB DaShaun Amos

Houston Texans

Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Ravens Notes: Carr, Skura, Pierce

Here’s a look at the Ravens as they get set for the offseason ahead:

  • Ravens defensive back Brandon Carr told reporters that the “ball is in [the Ravens’] court” when asked about his future (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley). Carr, 34 in May, is under contact for 2020, but the Ravens can create $6MM by releasing him. For his part, Carr wants to return – he called the 2019 season one of the “best rides” of his 12-year career. Carr has not missed a single game since 2008 and has started in every appearance. The durable veteran finished out 2019 with two sacks, 49 tackles, and six passes defensed.
  • Ravens center Matt Skura, who is on crutches after knee surgery, said there is no timetable on his return (Twitter link via Hensley). After tearing his his ACL, PCL and MCL, he hopes to be back for training camp.
  • Interior defensive lineman Michael Pierce is headed towards unrestricted free agency, but he hopes to return to the Ravens in 2020 (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic). Pierce, 27, is due for a raise after starting in 14 games for Baltimore in 2019.

Updated 2020 NFL Draft Order

The stage has been set for the conference championships. The Titans, Chiefs, 49ers, and Packers are moving on to the semifinals, while the Texans, Seahawks, Ravens, and Vikings will begin planning for the offseason ahead. Unfortunately for the Texans, their first round pick belongs to the Dolphins.

Here’s an updated look at the 2020 NFL Draft order from Nos. 1-28:

1. Bengals (2-14)

2. Redskins (3-13)

3. Lions (3-12-1)

4. Giants (4-12)

5 Dolphins (5-11)

6. Chargers (5-11)

7. Panthers (5-11)

8. Cardinals (5-10-1)

9. Jaguars (6-10)

10. Browns (6-10)

11. Jets (7-9)

12. Raiders (7-9)

13. Colts (7-9)

14. Buccaneers (7-9)

15. Broncos (7-9)

16. Falcons (7-9)

17. Cowboys (8-8)

18. Dolphins (via Steelers 8-8)

19. Raiders (via Bears 8-8)

20. Jaguars (via Rams 9-7)

21. Eagles (9-7)

22. Bills (10-6)

23. Patriots (12-4)

24. Saints (13-3)

25. Vikings (10-6)

26. Dolphins (via Texans 10-6)

27. Seahawks (11-5)

28. Ravens (14-2)

Marshal Yanda Considering Retirement?

The Ravens’ terrific season came to a sudden and surprising end at the hands of the Titans on Saturday night, which leaves Baltimore looking ahead to the 2020 campaign much sooner than it would have liked. And at some point in the near future, the team could be saying goodbye to its longest-tenured player.

Right guard Marshal Yanda, who was named to the eighth Pro Bowl of his career for his typically excellent work in the trenches in 2019, is under contract through the 2020 season. However, many of Yanda’s teammates believe he may have already played the last game of his career, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets.

Yanda, 35, did not publicly commit to playing in 2019 until he inked a one-year extension in April of last year, and with a Super Bowl ring and two First Team All-Pro nods to his credit, he may choose to hang up the cleats and move on to the next stage of his life.

La Canfora cautions that Yanda will take his time with the decision, but if he does choose to retire, the Ravens will have a massive hole to fill on their offensive line. Selected by Baltimore in the third round of the 2007 draft, Yanda has quietly put together a potential Hall of Fame career with his toughness and intelligence, and Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ running backs would surely miss him.

If he does come back next year, Yanda stands to earn $7MM, a pittance relative to his importance to the team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mark Ingram Expected To Play In Divisional Round

After missing the first two Ravens practices this week, Mark Ingram worked out in a limited capacity Thursday. The Ravens expect their starting running back to play against the Titans on Saturday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

A calf strain sidelined Ingram in Week 16. He joined select Baltimore starters in sitting for Week 17 but was practicing during the team’s bye week. However, a setback during those workouts shelved the ninth-year veteran for much of this week’s practices.

Ingram returning certainly represents good news for the AFC’s top seed. The Ravens running back gained 1,018 yards in his age-30 season, joining Lamar Jackson in spearheading the team’s record-setting ground attack. Jackson, Ingram and Gus Edwards each surpassed 700 yards this season. It is not clear if Ingram will receive a full workload against the Titans, making Edwards a potentially bigger factor in the game plan.

The longtime Saints back signed a three-year, $15.5MM contract in March and rewarded the Ravens on their investment in Year 1 of the deal. Ingram played in 15 games, surpassed 100 rushing yards four times and scored a career-high 15 touchdowns. This 1,000-yard season (5.0 per carry) was Ingram’s third over the past four seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mark Ingram Suffered Calf Setback

  • The NFL’s other purple-wearing team will likely go into its second-round game with backfield uncertainty. Previously expected to return for the Ravens‘ playoff opener, Mark Ingram has missed both Ravens practices this week. Ingram experienced a setback with his injured calf last week, leading to the Ravens to shut him down for a bit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The Ravens are indicating there is a “realistic chance” Ingram plays. Baltimore backup Gus Edwards‘ 5.2 yards per carry ranked third in the NFL this season.