- Ravens coach John Harbaugh isn’t committed to having a fullback, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets. Today in practice, Lorenzo Taliaferro was taking some reps at the position today along with undrafted free agent Ricky Ortiz. The decision of whether to utilize a fullback may impact the final makeup of Baltimore’s roster. The Ravens have five high-profile running backs on the roster in Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Javorious Allen, Taliaferro, and Kenneth Dixon. Dixon is facing a four-game suspension to start the year.
Elam’s first arrest came in February when he was cuffed while holding 126 grams of marijuana and three grams of oxycodone. The former first round pick hurt his chances of signing somewhere after that incident and the odds have only gotten worse with this week’s arrest.
Elam struggled as a starter in his first two NFL seasons and he missed the entire 2015 campaign thanks to a biceps tear in training camp. After losing much of last year to a knee injury, Elam showed very little in the nine games that he did appear in.
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Victor Cruz is starting to generate some interest months after the Giants ended his lengthy New York tenure in February. But the slot receiver is far removed from his best seasons, ones that occurred before multiple leg injuries sidetracked his career.
But there’s still a market for the 30-year-old wideout, probably on a short-term arrangement to see what the former Pro Bowler has left. Cruz met with the Panthers before the draft, but they went in another direction. The 2012 Pro Bowler also went on visits to discuss a potential role with the Jaguars and Bears last week, and the Ravens expressed interest as well.
Here are some of the fits for Cruz as he attempts to re-establish himself on another team following the down years that marred the second half of his Giants tenure:
- Ravens — Baltimore lost both Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken and has done little to help its receiving corps this offseason. The Ravens did not draft a wideout despite a depth chart that’s headlined by 2016 street free agent Mike Wallace and injury risk Breshad Perriman. Cruz would stand to be a far more proven inside complement for this team compared to what is currently on the roster. A rumored Cruz/Ravens summit hasn’t occurred yet, but the Ravens are believed to be targeting veteran UFAs that would likely serve niche roles this season.
- Raiders — Oakland made some flashy additions to an offense that was already among the league’s best. Marshawn Lynch, Jared Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson will see plenty of time for the rejuvenated team, but the Raiders still don’t have a surefire No. 3 wide receiver. Former UDFA Seth Roberts did not build on his promising spurts in 2015, and Patterson has made his name as a kick returner. The former first-round pick hasn’t been a consistent receiving threat. The Raiders are targeting extensions for Derek Carr, Gabe Jackson and Khalil Mack, but a low-end Cruz pact — likely for one year — wouldn’t stand to impede those pursuits much.
- Browns — If Cruz visited the Bears, he’s not dead set on playing for a team in position to contend now. The Browns look to have made a mistake by cutting Taylor Gabriel last summer, and they don’t have much beyond Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman despite a sizable wideout corps acquired in last year’s draft. Cruz doesn’t fit a rebuilding team, but Cleveland has young quarterbacks Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer. A better target to help over the middle would stand to aid in these passers’ development. Cruz did haul in 39 passes for 586 yards last season; that’s over 300 more than any current Browns WR3 candidate did.
- Jaguars — The obvious connection to Tom Coughlin makes this avenue somewhat viable, and the parties getting together for a meeting makes Jacksonville a candidate. It’s just more difficult to see where Cruz would play than some of these other teams. The Jags already have starters Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee put together his best season in 2016. While Robinson and Lee are UFAs after the season, Cruz as of now does not profile as a player that would command a multiyear deal and factor into longer-term planning.
- Lions — Detroit has two locked-in starters in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, and the franchise selected 6-foot-4 wideout Kenny Golladay in Round 3. The Lions, though, could still use another veteran here, especially if Ameer Abdullah‘s injury history continues to force passing-down specialist Theo Riddick — himself a season-ending injury casualty last season — into the backfield. That said, the Lions are a candidate to re-sign Anquan Boldin, which would negate this path.
- Bears — Also an interesting match despite the visit, Chicago has lost some marquee receiving weapons in recent years. Brandon Marshall made another franchise regret a trade in 2015, and Alshon Jeffery‘s defection to the Eagles leaves the Bears in transition mode here. Kevin White‘s rampant injury struggles don’t make the former top-10 pick a safe bet either, leaving Cameron Meredith as their de facto WR1. But the Bears signed both Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton. While neither can match Cruz at his best, and both did not thrive in their contract years, but Chicago adding both may make the ex-Giant superfluous and create some interesting debates on which wideouts to shuttle to special teams.
Which of these teams do you think would be the best fit for the would-be eighth-year veteran? Who did we leave off that you think would make for a logical destination? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.
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- The Ravens have signed third-round linebacker Tim Williams (per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun), meaning they now have their entire seven-player draft class under contract. Williams, the 78th overall pick, is coming off back-to-back seasons with at least nine sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss at Alabama. The Ravens’ hope is that both Williams and second-rounder Tyus Bowser will beef up a pass rush that finished just 24th in the league in sacks last season.
- The Ravens have signed third-round defensive lineman Chris Wormley, as Wormley himself indicated on Twitter. Wormley, drafted with the 78th overall selection, would seem to be a ready-made replacement for Timmy Jernigan, whom Baltimore traded to Philadelphia earlier this year. With Wormley now under contract, fellow third-round pick Tim Williams is the only Ravens draft choice who remains unsigned.
Teams are doing lots of spring cleaning today, so we’ll split the moves into two separate posts for each conference. First up, the AFC:
- The Raiders announced the signing of safety Marcus McWilson. A Kentucky product, McWilson played in 13 games for the Wildcats in 2016, racking up 108 tackles (4.5 for loss) and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
- Following suit on a busy transaction day for fringe roster cogs, the Ravens added four UDFAs to their offseason roster. Baltimore added linebacker Randy Allen (South Alabama), wide receiver Aaron Bailey (Northern Iowa), defensive back Jaylen Hill (Jacksonville State) and tackle Roubbens Joseph (Buffalo), Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports.
- The Browns signed defensive backs Donte Carey and Najee Murray. Both players participated in the team’s rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. To make room, the team waived offensive lineman Josh Boutte.
- The Titans signed defensive lineman Jimmy Staten, a fifth-round draft pick by Seattle in 2014. In addition to Staten, they inked defensive lineman Cameron Robbins (Northwestern), linebacker Johnny Ragin (Oregon), cornerback Trevon Hartfield (Southwestern Oklahoma State), and kicker Jordan Gay (Centre). Staten, Robbins, Ragin and Hartfield all took part in the team’s rookie minicamp. To make space, the Titans waived defensive lineman Roderick Henderson and linebacker Reshard Cliett.
- The Jets announced the signing of linebacker Jevaris Jones and released fellow linebacker Austin Calitro.
- The Colts signed free agent guard Blake Muir and four undrafted free agents: cornerback Dante Blackmon, safety Tyson Graham, wide receiver Al-Damion Riles, and offensive tackle Andrew Wylie. To make room for the new players, the team parted ways with center/guard Austin Blythe (a 2016 seventh-round pick) and cornerback Frankie Williams. The Colts also waived three 2017 UDFAs: wide receiver Jerome Lane, cornerback Chris Lyles, and guard Chris Muller.
- The Bills have signed linebackers Abner Logan and Anthony Harrell while waiving safety Jeremy Tyler and linebacker Junior Sylvestre.
The Ravens and free agent center Nick Mangold remain in a holding pattern, and it’s unclear if the two sides will ultimately agree on a deal, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Money is likely the issue holding up a potential contract, but Baltimore probably prefers to ink Mangold sooner rather than later, per Hensley.
2016 starting Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the 49ers earlier this year, so Baltimore’s top options on the interior are currently Ryan Jensen, John Urschel, and fourth-round rookie Nico Siragusa, the latter a natural guard who expressed confidence he could shift to center. Mangold, then, would given the Ravens a veteran presence at the pivot, and allow those younger lineman to compete with Alex Lewis for time at guard.
Mangold, 33, missed eight games last season with an ankle injury before being released by the Jets in February. He met with the Ravens in April, and general manager Ozzie Newsome & Co. are reportedly comfortable with Mangold’s medicals. Mangold has also drawn interest from the Giants since being cut.
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We learned several weeks ago that the 49ers were willing to make Alabama LB Reuben Foster the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft if edge rushers Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas were already off the board. Ultimately, of course, San Francisco grabbed Thomas with the No. 3 overall selection and dealt its No. 34 and No. 111 overall picks to Seattle to move up to No. 31 and select Foster, the third-ranked player on its board.
But as Peter King of The MMQB writes in his piece detailing 49ers GM John Lynch‘s 24 hours up to and during the draft, Lynch and Co. were trying to land Foster long before that. The team did not believe Foster would fall past Baltimore’s selection at No. 16, as the Ravens had an apparent need at middle linebacker and Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has a perceived proclivity for selecting Alabama players. The 49ers therefore offered Baltimore a second-, third-, and fourth-round selection to move up to No. 16, and Newsome countered with the second-rounder and both of the 49ers’ third-rounders.
The 49ers declined, but they kept trying. They offered the same package they offered to Baltimore to the Redskins, who held the No. 17 overall selection, but Washington declined as well (for what it’s worth, John Keim of ESPN.com says Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was unaware of the trade proposal, but it’s likely that team president Bruce Allen would have rejected the deal before it reached Gruden anyway). Lynch also called the Giants before they made their No. 23 overall choice, but he was rebuffed by New York GM Jerry Reese. Lynch finally, and unexpectedly, got his man eight picks later.
We now know that Foster could miss the entire 2017 season due to a shoulder injury, so it’s not surprising that he fell as far as he did on draft night (his watered-down urine sample and pre-draft argument with a hospital worker did not help his cause either). And, as our Dallas Robinson pointed out in the post linked above, it’s not a great look for Lynch and the 49ers staff that they were willing to use the third overall pick — or to trade significant draft assets to get back into the middle of the first round — for a player who ultimately fell to the end of Round 1.
However, by getting Foster in the first round, they can keep him under contract for five years, so it will be easier for them to treat 2017 as a medical redshirt season if necessary. Plus, if Foster can stay healthy, he and Thomas could form a fearsome duo in the middle of San Francisco’s defense for years.
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Here are today’s minor moves.
- A day after being waived by the Bills, cornerback Marcus Roberson landed with the Texans via waiver claim, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link, per ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak). Roberson represents another member of the Bills’ cornerback contingent to be added elsewhere, joining Stephon Gilmore and Nickell Robey-Coleman.
- The Ravens now have all the players to whom they extended an RFA or ERFA tender to signed. ERFA inside linebacker Lamar Louis signed his tender today, Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- After giving rookie UDFA Colin Buchanan a $10K signing bonus, the Saints waived him with a “left squad” designation, Nick Underhill of The Advocate reports (on Twitter). The Saints also guaranteed $10K of the Miami (Ohio) product’s rookie salary, per Underhill (on Twitter).
- The Colts signed free agent DT Josh Boyd and waived OLB Curt Maggitt with an injury settlement.
- Before the Cowboys chose Michigan defensive Taco Charlton with the 28th pick in the draft, they spoke with the Ravens about trading up to No. 16 for Missouri DE Charles Harris, reports Charean Williams of the Star Telegram. However, the teams’ discussions died when the Ravens’ target, Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, was still on the board for their pick. Harris ended up going 22nd overall to the Dolphins.