Ravens Rumors

Torrey Smith Discusses 2017 Ravens Talks

John Harbaugh confirmed the Ravens were interested in Torrey Smith last offseason, and Joe Flacco called his former deep threat while he was a free agent, Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun notes. Smith ultimately decided to sign with the Eagles, and it’s unclear what the Ravens offered (if one was made) for a reunion. Smith, who the 49ers cut prior to free agency last year, was interested in a Ravens return as well. But he didn’t recall the Ravens and his camp getting far on a deal.

However, with the now-two-time Super Bowl champion wideout a possible free agent again soon — the cap-strapped Eagles hold a team option for his $5MM 2018 wages — he may have another decision to make. And with Baltimore’s post-Smith deep threat, Mike Wallace, also a UFA, the sides could potentially revisit a reunion. Smith’s best seasons came with the Ravens, and he hasn’t come particularly close to matching his Baltimore work over the past two seasons.

Here’s the latest from some of the Ravens’ top rivals.

Marlon Humphrey Arrested For Stealing Phone Charger

  • Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, whom the team selected in the first round of last year’s draft, was recently arrested for stealing a $15 phone charger, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes. Humphrey has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 1 in Tuscaloosa County District Court, at which time a judge will determine whether to dismiss the case or to proceed. Humphrey turned in a strong rookie campaign, and Baltimore will rely on him heavily in 2018.

Coaching Rumors: Ravens, Lions, Steelers

Dean Pees‘ retirement from the Ravens didn’t last long as he became the Titans’ defensive coordinator less than a month later. The about-face took Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti by surprise.

I’m a little shocked,” Bisciotti said (via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). “He’s 68 years old. It’s hard to give it up, I guess.”

Bisciotti didn’t come right out and say it, but it sounds like Pees went to the Titans in part because they were willing to employ his son, Matt Pees, as a quality control coach.

I wish Dean all the luck,” Bisciotti said. “I understand he got his son in; I think that was a big point of his. We have a nepotism rule that may have prohibited that from happening in the last few years.”

Here’s more from the coaching world:

  • Following Carnell Lake‘s resignation from the position of Steelers secondary coach, Pittsburgh’s brass reached into the college ranks to fill the post. UCLA defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will leave Los Angeles to become the Steelers’ new DBs boss, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Bradley is a Pennsylvania native who spent 33 seasons on Joe Paterno’s staff — from 1979-2011. He coached the Bruins’ defense for the past three years. The 61-year-old Bradley will be on an NFL sideline for the first time come 2018.
  • In addition to formally announcing former Boston College defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni as their new defensive coordinator and keeping Jim Bob Cooter on as offensive coordinator, the Lions have also named several other members of new head coach Matt Patricia‘s staff. Chris White has been hired as Detroit’s tight ends coach, while former Miami head coach Al Golden will remain on staff as the club’s linebackers coach (he’d previously coached tight ends). Most of White’s experience has come at the collegiate level, but he did serve as the Vikings’ assistant special teams coach from 2009-12. The Lions also officially announced several other coaching hires that had been previously reported, including George Godsey (quarterbacks), Jeff Davidson (offensive line), and Brian Stewart (defensive backs), plus one that hadn’t in David Corrao (director of football research).
  • A 49ers defensive assistant for the past three years, former NFL DC Jason Tarver will become a coach outside of California for the first time in his 20-plus-year career. Tarver agreed to take the defensive coordinator job at Vanderbilt, per Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk. The Raiders’ DC from 2012-14, Tarver enjoyed two stints with the 49ers — the first from 2001-10. He coached alongside current Vanderbilt HC Derek Mason in 2011 at Stanford.
  • Speaking of the Commodores, the SEC program also announced former Browns assistant Shawn Mennenga will oversee Vandy’s special teams units in 2018 (Twitter link). The Browns let Menneaga walk after he served seven seasons under previous ST coordinator Chris Tabor.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

Ravens Notes: Graham, Pees

As the Ravens seek to repair their offense in 2018, they should target free agent tight end Jimmy Graham, opines Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has always displayed a proclivity for throwing to tight ends, and Graham could give the Ravens a valuable weapon in the red zone (each of Graham’s 10 touchdowns all came from inside the 20). While he did score often, Graham is entering his age-32 campaign and only managed 520 receiving yards on the season. Football Outsiders‘ DVOA metric, which records value on a per-play basis, wasn’t fond of Graham either, as he ranked just 28th out of 51 qualified tight ends. However, that was a higher finish than any of Baltimore’s tight ends from a year ago. The Ravens only have $10.5MM in available 2018 cap space, so adding any free agents might be tough unless general manager Ozzie Newsome & Co. release a few veterans or restructure contracts.

  • Dean Pees quickly accepted an offer to become the Titans’ defensive coordinator under new head coach Mike Vrabel shortly after “retiring” as the Ravens‘ DC, leading to questions about whether Pees was forced out of Baltimore. However, Pees said today that wasn’t the case, per Hensley (Twitter link). Pees helped the Ravens to the No. 3 defensive DVOA ranking a season ago, so it would have been surprising if head coach John Harbaugh removed Pees from his staff. Although Tennessee now employs a defensive head coach in Vrabel, Pees is expected to call the plays for the Titans.

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/6/18

Today’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Jacksonville Jaguars

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Tennessee Titans

Ravens Did Not Violate Rooney Rule

Last week, the Ravens announced that general manager Ozzie Newsome will step down in 2019, allowing longtime assistant GM Eric DeCosta to take over. Although the position has been filled without first interviewing a minority candidate, the Fritz Pollard Alliance has confirmed that the team is not in violation of the Rooney Rule. Eric DeCosta (vertical)

Under Rooney Rule protocol, when a club has established a firm succession plan that involves an internal coach or executive replacing a departing head coach or general manager, no external search is required,” the Fritz Pollard Alliance said in a statement (via Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun). “Examples of such circumstances include Jim Caldwell‘s succession of Tony Dungy as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Jim Mora‘s succession of Mike Holmgren as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. DeCosta’s pending succession of Newsome does not violate the Rooney Rule. The FPA salutes Ozzie Newsome for his groundbreaking tenure with the Ravens and congratulates DeCosta on his pending promotion.”

The succession plan has been in the works “over the last five years,” according to Newsome. Michael David Smith of PFT first reported that the move was not in violation of the Rooney Rule.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Updated 2018 NFL Draft Order

With the Super Bowl in the books, we now know the draft order for the entire first round of the 2018 draft. Here’s the rundown:

1. Cleveland Browns (0-16)

2. New York Giants (3-13)

3. Indianapolis Colts (4-12)

4. Cleveland Browns (via the 4-12 Houston Texans)

5. Denver Broncos (5-11)

6. New York Jets (5-11)

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)

8. Chicago Bears (5-11)

T-9. Oakland Raiders (6-10)

T-9. San Francisco 49ers (6-10) (Note: The Raiders and 49ers have identical records and the same strength of schedule. The tie will be broken by a coin flip with the winner getting pick No. 9 and the other club receiving the No. 10 pick.)

11. Miami Dolphins (6-10)

12. Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)

13. Washington Redskins (7-9)

14. Green Bay Packers (7-9)

15. Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

16. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

17. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

18. Seattle Seahawks (9-7)

19. Dallas Cowboys (9-7)

20. Detroit Lions (9-7)

21. Buffalo Bills (9-7)

22. Buffalo Bills (via the 10-6 Kansas City Chiefs)

23. Los Angeles Rams (11-5)

24. Carolina Panthers (11-5)

25. Tennessee Titans (9-7)

26. Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

27. New Orleans Saints (11-5)

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)

30. Minnesota Vikings (13-3)

31. New England Patriots (13-3)

32. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

DeCosta Promotion Won't Violate Rooney Rule

Ravens To Hire Senior Scouts

  • The Ravens will hire more senior scouts to work with the personnel department in the near future, owner Steve Bisciotti said (via Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun). The team recently lost four scouts to the Eagles in Joe Douglas, Andy Weidl, Ian Cunningham and T.J. McCreight, with Preston writing they had a combined 55 years’ experience with Baltimore. Bisciotti made it clear the Ravens will be targeting experience when searching for scouting assistance. “I think that in retrospect, you can say you can’t lose those three scouts with 30 years of experience between the three of them and then hire 25-year-olds that are ready to give it the old try,” Bisciotti said, referencing some of the Ravens’ recent high draft picks that haven’t panned out. “I think that it shows that we have not done a very good job of filling in for senior people with senior people. So that’s something we’re going to address starting right now.”

Ozzie Newsome Discusses Front Office Shakeup

We heard yesterday that longtime Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome will step down from his role following the 2018 season. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun passed along a quote from the executive regarding the move (via Twitter):

“I will remain as the Ravens’ GM through the 2018 season and continue my role directing free agency and the draft,” he said. “After that, Eric (DeCosta) will take over as our GM and assume all the duties that come with that, including heading our personnel department and directing free agency and the draft. I plan to remain with the Ravens in a significant position in personnel and help us win more Super Bowls. We have planned this succession over the last five years.”

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