Ravens Rumors

Michael Pierce Addresses Conditioning Issue

Having missed the voluntary portion of the Ravens’ offseason program, Michael Pierce was present for minicamp after signing his second-round RFA tender. But John Harbaugh sidelined him early on the first day of the mandatory workout due to the emerging defensive tackle being well over his listed 340-pound frame.

Harbaugh pulled Pierce off the field after the stretching portion of the Ravens’ workout, citing the lineman’s health as the reason. The fourth-year defender showed up “significantly” heavier than his listed weight, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

Throughout the offseason, I tend to lift more than run,” Pierce told WNSP-FM radio in Alabama (via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). “Being a nose guard, I want to be strong or whatnot. I, honestly, just mismanaged my running a little bit.

At the end of the day, you expect a team leader to come back in better shape than I did. That’s a mistake on my behalf I have to correct.”

This is a critical year for Pierce, who is attached to a $3.095MM salary because of the RFA tender. The former UDFA out of Samford is due for unrestricted free agency next year, and given the Ravens’ pattern of letting talent walk and recouping compensatory picks, Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 interior defender last season may well have a chance to hit the market. This is obviously not a good start to Pierce’s contract year.

You know, of course, you are disappointed with him,” Ravens DC Don Martindale said, via Zreibec. “He’s a dominant player, and he’s got a challenge from here until training camp to hit a certain stage, and that’s (up to) the trainers and (GM Eric DeCosta) and Harbs on where they want him to be at. I know he’ll be there. I know he will.”

Pierce will face a pivotal stretch over the next five-plus weeks, needing to reduce his weight to return to the kind of shape he was in last season. The 26-year-old defender, who started two games last year and 13 in 2017, will have to pass a conditioning test before taking the field for training camp.

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Ravens To Sign First-Round Pick Marquise Brown

The Ravens announced that they’ve verbally agreed to a deal with first-round pick Marquise Brown. In accordance with his slot, the wide receiver will receive a four-year, $11.8MM deal with a $6.6MM signing bonus.

The Ravens have yet to get Brown on the field, but he’s expected to have a big role in the offense once he heals up from his February foot surgery. After the Oklahoma product cracked 1,000 yards receiving with an average of 19.2 yards per catch last year, the Ravens are expecting big things from the man they call “Hollywood.”

There are some concerns about Brown’s durability due to his aforementioned foot malady and his skinny frame, but his speed should allow him to excel from the jump. There was no true consensus on the draft’s top wide receiver this year, but Brown could easily prove to be the best of the bunch.

With Brown (effectively) under contract, that leaves third-round wide receiver Miles Boykin as the lone unsigned player from the Ravens’ draft class.

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Ravens Offered Gerald McCoy $8MM Guaranteed?

Gerald McCoy agreed to sign with the Panthers today, opting to remain the NFC South rather than venture to the Browns or Ravens in the AFC North. Apparently, though, Baltimore did everything it could to bring McCoy into the fold.

McCoy landed a one-year, $8MM pact from Carolina that could be worth as much as $10.25MM. However, only $4MM of that is guaranteed, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports, the Ravens were willing to give McCoy double that amount in fully-guaranteed money (video link). RapSheet adds that the Browns also put together a strong package that may have surpassed the Panthers’ offer.

It’s unclear what incentives Baltimore or Cleveland were offering to enhance the value of their proposals, but many of the incentives in McCoy’s Panthers deal do not seem especially difficult to achieve (provided he remains healthy). McCoy is due $3MM in base pay — and it’s not as though the Panthers are going to cut him to avoid paying that salary — and he can earn $500K in camp roster bonuses, another $500K in 45-man per game bonuses, $500K if he tallies six sacks, and $1.5MM if he posts eight sacks. He also has playoff and Pro Bowl incentives. The eight-sack incentive may be a tall order, but the others are either very likely or at least attainable (and McCoy did tally 8.5 sacks in 2015, with totals of seven, six, and six in each of the past three seasons).

So in reality, McCoy may ultimately earn just as much in Carolina as he would have with the Ravens or Browns (both of whom also boast strong front-sevens). But McCoy was drawn to the camaraderie he saw during his visit with the Panthers, and he preferred to remain in the South. He enjoyed his visits to Cleveland and Baltimore but had reservations about the cities themselves.

Of course, the chance to exact revenge on the Bucs likely had at least some part in McCoy’s decision, especially with Tampa Bay giving McCoy’s No. 93 to new signee Ndamukong Suh.

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Gerald McCoy Hopes To Sign Today

Gerald McCoy‘s agent is actively negotiating with the Panthers, Browns, and Ravens, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). There’s no real timetable for McCoy to sign, though Rapoport notes that he would like to be on the field for the start of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, wherever he lands. 

McCoy drew interest from seemingly 1/3rd of the NFL, but the Ravens and Browns seem to be in the lead for his services. The Panthers have also made a strong push to land McCoy in an effort to give Kawann Short a quality partner on the interior.

McCoy has 54.5 career sacks to his credit and has not missed more than three games in a season since 2011. He’d be an instant difference maker for any of those three clubs and each team would offer him a chance to win in 2019.

Ultimately, it may come down to money for McCoy and his camp – the veteran has reportedly garnered offers as high as $11MM/year, but it’s hard to see him reaching that mark after Ndamukong Suh signed for less than $10MM with the Bucs.

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Brown, Boykin Banged Up For Ravens

  • We have an update on the Ravens’ two rookie wide receivers, courtesy of Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). First round pick Marquise Brown is still recovering from his Lisfranc foot surgery, and “training camp remains the hope for his return.” Initially the hope was minicamp back in March, but that turned out not to be the case. Meanwhile the Ravens’ third round pick, Miles Boykin, is dealing with a hamstring strain, and Zrebiec writes he “should be getting closer to return.” Boykin and Brown are the only two of the Ravens’ draft picks not to sign yet, although that’s likely not related to their respective injuries. Still, it’s not great that they’re having to miss significant portions of their first offseason.

Snead Had Offseason Surgery

  • The Ravens’ receiving corp is going to look a lot different in 2019, as they made a lot of changes in preparation for Lamar Jackson‘s first full season as the starter. They let John Brown and Michael Crabtree walk in free agency, and drafted two new receivers in the first three rounds last month. They’ll need some veterans to provide some stability with all the young guys around, and one of the vets they’re reportedly counting on to step up this year is Willie Snead. Unfortunately Snead hasn’t been able to be a full-go this offseason, as he had surgery on his finger after the season ended, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). Zrebiec writes that the Ravens are “taking it easy with him.” Snead had a productive year last season, finishing with 62 catches for 651 yards and a touchdown.

Ravens Sign Third Round DE Jaylon Ferguson

The Ravens locked up a key member of their draft class Friday. The team signed third round pick edge rusher Jaylon Ferguson to his rookie deal, they announced on Twitter.

Ferguson is more high profile than your typical third round pick. He was one of the most productive pass-rushers in recent college football history, and put up absurd numbers at Louisiana Tech. For a while there was talk that Ferguson would go as high as the first round, but he ended up tumbling to 85th overall. In his senior season with the Bulldogs Ferguson racked up an eye-popping 26.5 tackles for loss, including 17.5 sacks.

Ferguson was at the center of some controversy a few months back when he had his invitation to the combine rescinded. Ferguson was banned from the combine after a background check revealed he was convicted of simple battery during his freshman year. It was reported at the time that teams didn’t view his incident as particularly serious, and he was eventually allowed to participate in interviews at the combine, although he wasn’t allowed to do any drills or on-field work.

With Ferguson now in the fold, the Ravens now have only two unsigned draft picks left. First round pick Marquise Brown and third-rounder Miles Boykin still have yet to agree to terms. The Ravens lost Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith in free agency, so they have a lot of pass-rushing production to replace. They’ll be counting on Ferguson to help fill some of that void.

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Bisciotti: Ravens Made Competitive Terrell Suggs Offer

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti expected Terrell Suggs to stay in Baltimore after what he describes as an offer close to the one the Cardinals submitted. But the 17th-year veteran bolted early in free agency.

While Bisciotti did not specify how close the Ravens came to matching the one-year, $7MM proposal the Cardinals made, the longtime owner anticipated being able to retain Suggs with a hometown discount.

Until the very minute Terrell took Arizona’s deal, I thought he would take less to stay here,” Bisciotti said, via ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley (on Twitter). “I was wrong. I wished him well.”

Just before Suggs’ defection, he and the Ravens did not appear to be close on terms. The franchise’s all-time sack king played for $6.95MM in 2018, the final season of his four-year, $20MM deal. Suggs initially leaned toward re-signing with the Ravens. However, Suggs said Ozzie Newsome stepping away from his GM post, and Baltimore’s decisions on other veteran defensive stalwarts, swayed him.

Suggs played high school and college football in Arizona, helping to explain the choice to leave a division champion for the team that finished with 2018’s worst record. The Ravens also lost Za’Darius Smith, who signed a $16.5MM-AAV Packers deal, but still have Matt Judon and brought in Pernell McPhee and Shane Ray after the draft. Third-round pick Jaylon Ferguson also figures to factor into Baltimore’s pass rush, as will 2017 third-rounder Tim Williams. Bisciotti called Williams a situational pass rusher, Hensley adds (via Twitter). Williams played 120 snaps last season.

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Browns, Ravens Top Gerald McCoy’s List

The Browns and Ravens are in the lead for Gerald McCoy‘s services, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). However, if neither club offers him the contract he wants, it’s possible that things could open up for other teams. 

One of those teams could be the Panthers, who have a desire to upgrade at defensive tackle and have been lurking, according to Rapoport. With less than $10MM in projected cap space, the Panthers don’t have a ton of breathing room, but they could get creative with some contract adjustments and/or a backloaded contract for McCoy.

Pairing McCoy with Kawann Short would give the Panthers a potent attack on the inside, but Dontari Poe‘s contract may stand in the way. Signed to a three-year, $28MM deal in 2018, cutting Poe today would leave the Panthers with a whopping $9.2MM cap charge versus just $166K in savings. Instead, the Panthers may prefer to stay the course with Short, Poe, and quality backup Kyle Love.

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Latest On Gerald McCoy, Ravens

While the Browns hoped they could have Gerald McCoy signed before he left Cleveland, they now have serious AFC North competition. The Ravens are trying to execute the same strategy.

McCoy’s Tuesday visit will continue to Wednesday morning, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The Ravens hope to have a deal with the decorated defensive lineman by Wednesday, per ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley. The Browns, though, have remained in contact with McCoy since he left their facility, Hensley adds.

The six-time Pro Bowler (but zero-game playoff participant) wants to land with a contending team. The Browns have enjoyed a busy offseason loading up for what could be their most talented team since rebooting in 1999, but the Ravens are the defending AFC North champions. This has become an interesting pursuit. No other McCoy visits are known to be scheduled, though numerous teams have inquired.

Baltimore obviously lost plenty of talent from its No. 1-ranked defense this offseason, but most of the shakeups occurred in Baltimore’s secondary or linebacking corps. Brent Urban, however, signed with the Titans after starting 16 Ravens games last season. McCoy would join Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce, who recently signed his second-round RFA tender, on Baltimore’s front. Third-year players Chris Wormley and Willie Henry reside on the Ravens’ line as well. Baltimore also signed UDFA Gerald Willis, who was viewed as a mid-round draft prospect.

The Ravens hold $13.7MM in cap space but have not signed their top three draft choices. A multiyear deal should not be ruled out, with that likely serving the Ravens’ interests better, as The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec writes (subscription required). Baltimore is expected to hold more than $55MM in 2020 cap space. Another potential draw for McCoy: the employment of defensive line coach Joe Cullen, who was the Buccaneers’ D-line coach from 2014-15.

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