Ravens Rumors

Complete 2019 NFL International Pathway Program

Moritz Boehringer is back in the NFL. The German tight end, who became the first European player ever to be drafted without playing American college football back in 2016, has been allocated to the Bengals as part of the league’s international pathway program, per Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com.

Boehringer’s assignment to the Bengals completes this year’s program. Each season, teams in two divisions get a roster exemption to develop a player from another country. The player can be the 91st man on offseason rosters, and can be an 11th player on practice squads during the regular season. Boehringer was drafted by the Vikings, but spent his rookie season on the practice squad without ever appearing in a game. He came into the league as a receiver, but has since transitioned to tight end. He was with the Bengals as part of this program last year, and will be back in Cincy in 2019.

Here’s a list of the rest of the players selected to participate:

Baltimore Ravens

  • FB Christopher Ezeala

Buffalo Bills

  • RB Christian Wade

Cleveland Browns 

  • DB Tigie Sankoh

Miami Dolphins

  • DT Durval Neto

New England Patriots

  • TE/FB Jakob Johnson

New York Jets

  • RB/WR/KR Valentine Holmes

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • TE Christian Scotland-Williamson

The AFC North participated last year, but this year the AFC East is taking the place of the NFC South. Notably, Efe Obada was a participant in the program with the Panthers last year, and he went on to make Carolina’s 53-man roster last season. He was re-signed this offseason.

Each of the players assigned to the AFC North were with those teams last year. Scotland-Williamson is a former rugby player, while Boehringer, Sankoh, and Ezeala all played American football overseas before making the leap.

All of the AFC East players are new to the program. Given the Patriots’ track record of finding hidden gems, Johnson will likely end up leading the league in receiving yards at some point. Johnson was signed from the German football league. Neto was playing football in Brazil before being added to the Dolphins. Wade and Holmes are both former prominent rugby players.

NFL Draft Rumors: Ravens, Bush, Titans

Here’s a look at the latest NFL Draft buzz as players take their final visits:

  • Michigan linebacker Devin Bush will visit the Ravens on Wednesday, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Baltimore holds the No. 22 overall pick, but they may have to trade up if they want to land him. The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is a surefire first-rounder after putting up 85 tackles, 10 sacks, and 18.5 tackles for loss over the past two years.
  • Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown and Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell will take their last pre-draft visits to the Titans on Wednesday, according to Rapoport (on Twitter). Both players could be on the radar for Tennessee’s No. 19 overall selection.
  • Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver will meet with the Bills, Rapoport hears. They’re far from the only team interested in Oliver, however, and the rival Jets are apparently among the clubs keen on him. The Jets would be reaching if they took Oliver at No. 3 overall, but they’ve been vocal about their desire to trade down. Meanwhile, the Bills could conceivably entertain the Houston product at No. 9 overall.

NFL Draft Notes: Giants, Haskins, Metcalf

The Giants will host Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins on a top 30 visit on Monday and Tuesday, a source tells NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). After the G-Men brought out the big guns for Haskins’ Pro Day, chatter is building about the Giants possibly targeting the signal caller with the No. 6 overall pick.

Fully expected to become a top-10 pick, Haskins also met with the Broncos (No. 10) and the Redskins (No. 15) last week. The Giants appear to be well in range, but teams tend to move up and reach for stud QBs. The Giants also have the firepower necessary to move up for Oklahoma star Kyler Murray, but they may prefer to spread the wealth and address other areas instead, including the pass rush.

Here’s the latest NFL Draft buzz:

  • Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf visited the Ravens on Monday, Rapoport tweets. Metcalf could give them a much-needed shot in the arm at WR, but it’s not a given that he’ll be available when they’re called to the podium at No. 22. For now, their WR consists of new addition Seth Roberts, Willie Snead, Chris Moore, and 2018 draft picks Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott.
  • Speaking of the Ravens‘ WR need, they’ll host Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise Brown on Monday, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). This year, the Ravens are set to pick at No. 22 overall with no picks in the second round due to last year’s Lamar Jackson trade.
  • More from Rapoport, who notes that Ohio State wide receiver Parris Campbell is visiting with the Bengals. Campbell is a very unlikely target for Cincinnati at No. 11 overall, but he could be a candidate for their second-round choice at No. 42. Last year, Campbell broke out with 90 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns.
  • Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary will huddle up with the Seahawks and Raiders this week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.
  • Arizona State wide receiver will meet with the N’Keal Harry 49ers on Monday before traveling to the Seahawks, Pelissero hears. Projections for Harry are all over the board, but he appears to be a late-first to early-second round type.
  • Washington tackle Kaleb McGary will visit the Seahawks on Monday and the Falcons on Tuesday, Schefter hears (Twitter link). The Falcons’ No. 14 pick would probably be a bit high for McGary, who projects as a right tackle at the next level, but a trade-down scenario could bring him to Atlanta.
  • The Patriots have done “extra pre-draft” work on Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham and Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson, both of whom visited recently (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Versatile Oklahoma offensive lineman Cody Ford spent Friday visiting with the Bengals, who pick No. 11 (Twitter link via Rapoport). Ford was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2018 and helped Oklahoma win Joe Moore Award, given to the country’s best offensive line.

Draft Notes: Packers, Dillard, White, Fins

Midway through a rather notable offseason, given the recent behind-the-curtain look at their previous power structure, the Packers are investigating some high-end quarterback prospects. They are obviously set at sports’ marquee position, but with Aaron Rodgers set to turn 36 by season’s end, Green Bay is at a similar point compared to when it last made a major quarterback investment. The Packers will host Drew Lock on a visit Tuesday, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports (on Twitter). They also tried to set up a summit with Daniel Jones, but the parties’ schedules did not line up, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (via Twitter). The Packers took Rodgers when Brett Favre was 36 and sat him for three years. While Green Bay pulling the trigger on a passer would be rather surprising, especially given Rodgers’ contract status, the team does have two first-round picks this year.

Here is the latest from the draft world, staying on the subject of quarterbacks:

  • Lock will also meet with the Chargers, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com (on Twitter). Teams have ramped up their signal-caller-related preparation, in the event Kyler Murray does not go No. 1, according to Robinson, who notes some teams believe this year’s passers could slide a bit should Murray not be the Cardinals’ choice atop the draft. Some modest steam picked up on this notion earlier Monday.
  • The Dolphins, who already met with Jones, will head to the Duke campus to work out the former Blue Devil starter, Rapoport reports (on Twitter). Teams only have a few more days to host prospects on “30” visits but can still work them out after that deadline passes. Miami will also host Michigan linebacker Devin Bush and Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Devin White‘s stock has risen during the pre-draft process, to the point he may be the rare off-ball linebacker to be picked in the top five. One of the teams holding such a selection, the Raiders, brought in White for a visit, Rapoport tweets. The Buccaneers, who hold pick No. 5, have been closely connected to the LSU ‘backer. The Raiders have the No. 4 overall pick. Oakland, which also holds the Nos. 24 and 27 selections, will meet with tight end Noah Fant, on Monday as well, Rapoport tweets. The Raiders lost their starting tight end of the past two seasons, Jared Cook, in free agency.
  • For weeks, the Jets have been viewed as a team that would love to trade down. They are meeting with a prospect Tuesday that would support the fact this is a consideration. Ed Oliver will visit the Jets, per Schefter (on Twitter). While the defensive tackle is a surefire first-round talent, he has not been mocked as a player who would be a consideration at No. 3 overall.
  • The Titans are visiting with defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, per Rapoport (on Twitter). This is the Notre Dame-developed defender’s second known visit, the first having come with the Saints recently. Tillery remains in rehab after surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum.
  • Not much has surfaced about which teams are researching an Andre Dillard pick. That has changed. The Washington State tackle prospect is visiting the Falcons on Monday and will meet with the Chargers later this week, Schefter tweets. Additionally, Schefter adds the first-round offensive line hopeful has already visited or worked out for a host of teams — the Giants, Jets, Dolphins, Ravens, Titans, Panthers, Vikings, Jaguars, Bills, Texans, Bengals, Packers, Redskins.

Ravens LB Patrick Onwuasor Signs RFA Tender

Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor has signed his second-round restricted free agent tender, the club announced today. Running backs Gus Edwards and De’Lance Turner, center Matt Skura, and offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor all signed their exclusive rights free agent tenders, per Baltimore.

Onwuasor, 26, has started 25 games for the Ravens over the past two seasons, but didn’t top 60% playing time in either of those campaigns. That’s likely to change in 2019, as Onwuasor is expected to become Baltimore’s top linebacker following the departure of free agent C.J. Mosley. Last year, Onwuasor posted 59 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one interception while grading as the NFL’s No. 40 linebacker among 92 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus, which assigned Onwuasor a top-15 coverage grade among LBs.

Following a solid 2018 season, a rival team could have theoretically expressed interest in signing Onwuasor to an offer sheet. However, that would have forced said club to sacrifice a second-round pick and give Onwuasor a large enough contract to dissuade the Ravens from matching. Instead, the former undrafted free agent is now scheduled to earn $3.095MM for the upcoming campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Earl Thomas Committed To Chiefs Deal Prior To Ravens Offer

Well known to have pursued Earl Thomas, the Chiefs were incredibly close to having one of the highest-profile safety tandems in recent NFL history.

Thomas committed to sign with the Chiefs the night before he agreed to terms with the Ravens, the new Baltimore defender said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast this week (video link). Thomas provided details on what was a one-year Kansas City offer.

I had committed there on a one-year deal worth like $12MM,” Thomas said, “and the next morning I woke up, my agents called me and told me I had a better offer with the Ravens, so I definitely took that offer real quick.”

Having recently seen money become available after C.J. Mosley accepted a monster Jets offer, the Ravens swooped in with a four-year, $55MM Thomas proposal. Thomas said he was on the phone with Andy Reid the night before he agreed to the Ravens’ terms and indicated his family was packing up for a flight to Missouri. While more low-key, with no agreement having been widely reported, Thomas’ free agency appears to have unfolded in a fairly similar fashion as Anthony Barr‘s.

The Chiefs actually were about to send me a private jet and me and the family were packing up, getting ready to go, get on the jet, go to Kansas City, and I woke up the next morning and my agents told me that Baltimore really wanted me and they offered me a megadeal, and I took that,” Thomas said.

The Chiefs opened free agency by authorizing a $14MM-AAV deal for Tyrann Mathieu. They were clearly quite close to pairing him with Thomas. Eric Berry was still on Kansas City’s roster at that point, but the team released its three-time All-Pro safety hours after the Ravens pried Thomas away. Before going down with a season-ending injury, Thomas was rumored as a Chiefs trade target as well. It is not known if Thomas gave the Chiefs a chance to match the Ravens’ offer, though they certainly could have given that the subsequent Ravens agreement occurred before the new league year began.

Thomas added that the Cowboys, who offered a second-round pick for him last year, did not seriously pursue him in free agency. The Cowboys did not come forward with the kind of money the Ravens or Chiefs did, per Thomas.

Kansas City has made some major changes to its defense, cutting Berry and Justin Houston and trading Dee Ford. Lower-profile defensive ends Alex Okafor and Emmanuel Ogbah have since signed, joining Mathieu, Damien Wilson and Bashaud Breeland as notable K.C. offseason defensive additions. But a Chiefs team that ranked 31st against the pass (though 12th in pass-defense DVOA) still could use some help in the secondary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Sign Marshal Yanda To Extension

Maybe this won’t be Marshal Yanda‘s final season after all. On Thursday, the Ravens reached agreement on a one-year extension with the seven-time Pro Bowl guard that will keep him under club control through the 2020 season, sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). 

A seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time First Team All-Pro, Yanda has long been one of the best offensive lineman in the league. The Ravens have some uncertainty at left guard and center in advance of this month’s draft, so Yanda is especially important to the club moving forward.

Yanda has dealt with some health concerns in recent years, including a broken ankle that ended his 2017 season after just two games. He is owed $7MM this year, a relative bargain. Financial terms of his new year are not yet known.

Prior to the deal, the 34-year-old (35 in September) was set to enter the final year of his four-year, $32MM contract. With the new deal, Yanda will likely finish out his career in Baltimore, unless he wants to push into his late 30s.

Recently, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta indicated that he wanted Yanda in the fold beyond 2019. With the new deal, they’ve likely accomplished that goal.

In regards to Marshal, we love Marshal, and we’d love Marshal to continue to play for us for years,” DeCosta said earlier this month. “He’s a great player. He’s still playing at a high level. He’s a Raven. You can define a Raven and put a picture of Marshal Yanda up there, and that’s him.”

Thanks in part to Yanda, the Ravens managed 141.9 per game, good for second in the league. The Ravens hope to hit a similar mark this year as quarterback Lamar Jackson continues to make plays with his legs.

New deals for kicker Justin Tucker, outside linebacker Matthew Judon, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, and defensive tackle Michael Pierce could be on deck for the Ravens, as ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley writes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens To Host Miles Sanders

  • Penn State running back Miles Sanders has been vaulting up draft boards (he currently ranks one spot behind Collier at No. 46 on Jeremiah’s list), and he has a busy schedule ahead of him. Sanders is scheduled to work out for/meet with the Bears, Eagles, Steelers, Ravens, Bills, Cowboys, Falcons, Titans, Bengals, Panthers, Buccaneers, and Colts. In 2018, Sanders’ only season as a starter, he posted 1,274 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 220 attempts.

Latest On Ozzie Newsome’s Role With Ravens

Ozzie Newsome had been the Ravens’ GM since the club’s inception in 1996, and he was the architect of two Super Bowl champions. Last January, Newsome announced that 2018 would be his last season as Baltimore’s GM, but it was reported that he would remain with the club in an unspecified role.

Now, that role is becoming a bit clearer. As Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes, Newsome’s voice still carries plenty of weight in the Ravens’ front office. He doesn’t have an official title, and new GM (and longtime Newsome lieutenant) Eric DeCosta has Newsome’s old office and the final say on roster decisions, but Newsome is plenty involved in the draft and free agency process.

Hensley observes that Newsome was instrumental in closing the deal with Earl Thomas last month — he has a good relationship with Thomas’ agent — and is doing a great deal of work on this year’s collegiate prospects.

Indeed, without the daily administrative duties of a GM, Newsome has watched more college tape than he has in the last several years. DeCosta said, “I think he’s really enjoying it. He’s grinding tape. He had a great time at the combine. He’s really been a valuable resource for me in terms of discussing players and what do you see. I think he’s really having fun with it.”

It remains unclear how involved Newsome will be on draft day, but DeCosta acknowledged that his mentor is likely to have a say on nearly every pick. And while head coach John Harbaugh reiterated that what DeCosta says goes, it can’t hurt to have someone as respected as accomplished as Newsome as a sounding board.

Newsome is under contract at least through 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ryan Grant Explains What Went Wrong With Baltimore

Receiver Ryan Grant was involved in one of the more bizarre situations of last offseason. The former Redskins receiver looked like he was about to cash in big time, and signed a four-year, $29MM contract with $14.5MM guaranteed with the Ravens. But soon after, the Ravens slapped him with a failed physical designation and voided the contract, making him a free agent again. He ended up settling for a one-year, $5MM deal with the Colts. Now he’s on to a new team, signing a one-year, $2.5MM deal with the Raiders earlier this week. In a recent interview with Sirius XM, Grant dished on what happened with Baltimore and finally explained all the details.

Grant said the Ravens just got cold feet and that the injury that made him fail the physical wasn’t anything serious, just a “mild ankle sprain,” as he put it. Even though he lost out on a significant amount of money, Grant isn’t bitter about it and said he’s genuinely happy to be in Oakland. “I feel like, had I signed with the Ravens, they probably would have, you know, did some other shady stuff to get me traded or released or something like this. So I’m thankful that they did what they did,” Grant explained. “I’m happy where I am now. Super excited to be a part of the Raiders organization. It’s the spirit and the culture of the team. And it just feels like I’ve been drafted all over again. I’m just so ecstatic,” he continued.