Ravens Rumors

AFC North Notes: Colts, Mack, Ravens, Stanley, Humphrey

After his first season with more than 1,000 yards rushing, Marlon Mack isn’t assured the starting role in the Colts‘ backfield. Head coach Frank Reich says he’ll have a leg up on second-round pick Jonathan Taylor, but he also says that fans shouldn’t get too hung up on the RB1 designation.

There’s definitely inherent respect for the starter returning,” Reich said (via Kevin Bowen of 105.7 The Fan). “I see it as a 1-1 (punch). The way the league has gone and the way role playing has been elevated in our league, it’s made it prominent. We used to say in San Diego that when we had Danny Woodhead. He was not our starter, he was our ‘role playing’ starter. He played such a significant role. He had 80 catches in a year. You look at a guy like Nyehim Hines. We talk about Marlon and Jonathan, but what about Nyheim? He’s such a good third-down back that he’ll play a prominent (role). In some ways, (Hines) is a starter. He’s a role-playing starter.”

Right now, it seems like Mack will have to prove himself all over in camp as he gets set for his final year under contract. As it stands, he’s set to make $2.13MM in base salary before reaching the open market in March of 2021.

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • After turning in a stellar season, Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley could become the league’s highest-paid non-quarterback, ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley writes. Currently, Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack ($23.5MM per year) leads the way, followed by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ($22.5MM). This year, fellow left tackle Laremy Tunsil ($22MM/year) put himself in that neighborhood, but Stanley is likely to leapfrog him. In 2019, Stanley allowed Lamar Jackson to be pressured just six times, the lowest total of any offensive tackle in 14 years.
  • The Ravens have other deals on their agenda, of course, including a new contract for Marlon Humphrey. With all due respect for Stanley, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic argues that the cornerback should actually be priority No. 1. When it comes to Stanley, his comp has already been set, thanks to the Tunsil deal. Meanwhile, time is of the essence with Humphrey – the top of the CB market will be reset soon with Jalen Ramsey, Marshon Lattimore, and Tre’Davious White all due for new deals.
  • The Browns went ahead with their gradual re-opening plan with Phase 1 beginning on Monday (Twitter link). Meanwhile, other clubs are still working on alternative plans. The Raiders, who were set to hold camp in Napa, California, may shift to their new headquarters in Henderson, Nevada.

Matt Judon Does Not Expect Trade

Rumors of the Ravens becoming the latest team to execute a tag-and-trade transaction have not surfaced in months, and Matt Judon is not expecting to be dealt. The franchise-tagged outside linebacker signed his tender Thursday night and expects to be with the Ravens this season, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Although the Ravens acquired All-Pro defensive lineman Calais Campbell, they did not make a big move at outside linebacker this offseason. They will need their top 2019 edge defender back to anchor their pass rush.

  • John Harbaugh said (via Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun) cornerback Jimmy Smith could see some time at safety. The veteran cornerback re-signed earlier this year and is set to play a 10th season in Baltimore. The Ravens have Earl Thomas and the recently extended Chuck Clark at safety, so it will be interesting to see how they deploy Smith this season.

Ravens’ Matt Judon Signs Franchise Tender

Nearly half the league’s teams used their respective franchise tags this year, and one of the tagged pass rushers signed his tender Thursday.

Matt Judon signed his Ravens tender, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Judon was tagged as a linebacker and therefore would have been attached to a $15.8MM salary, though he could have filed a grievance to be tagged as a defensive end in order to bump that number up to $17.8MM. Pelissero subsequently reported that the two sides met in the middle to avoid further dispute, and that Judon stands to earn $16.8MM in 2020 if no long-term deal is reached (Twitter link).

The Ravens have begun extension discussions with Judon but have also initiated talks with Ronnie Stanley. Judon could come first due to the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions. The former Division II standout has become Baltimore’s top edge defender, having functioned in a key role for the Ravens throughout his career. Judon registered 33 quarterback hits last season — the most by a Raven over the past 14 years — and has 24.5 sacks in the past three years.

Tag-and-trade rumors surfaced in this situation earlier this offseason. By signing the tag, Judon can now be traded. Although the Ravens have let a few key edge rushers go after big contract-year performances in recent years, they did not draft an outside linebacker and would be incredibly thin at the position if they opted to trade him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley On Contract Talks

The Ravens have started discussing an extension for left tackle Ronnie Stanley, but Stanley himself does not seem overly concerned about the process. “I’m in no rush. I’m not really worried about it,” he said (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic).

Baltimore was surely unhappy to see Texans head coach/GM Bill O’Brien hand LT Laremy Tunsil the key to the city and a three-year, $66MM extension last month. As Joel Corry of CBS Sports observes, the Ravens generally aren’t fans of short-term deals for premium players — unless that player cedes some money in exchange for the shorter term — so the fact that Tunsil got a three-year pact while also resetting the left tackle market in terms of AAV ($22MM) and full guarantees ($40MM) could make things tough for the Ravens.

That is especially true when considering that Stanley is probably the better player. Though both Stanley and Tunsil received their first Pro Bowl nods in 2019, Stanley took home First Team All-Pro honors, and he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ top pass blocker last season. The Notre Dame product is also a force in run-blocking, and his performance was instrumental in the Ravens’ offensive explosion during Lamar Jackson‘s first full year at the helm.

However, perhaps Stanley will not try to top Tunsil’s pact. While the 26-year-old of course wants to be paid what he is worth, he also said, “at the end of the day, I don’t think money is the most important thing to me” (Twitter link via Zrebiec). One way or another, Stanley will be incredibly rich in fairly short order, and perhaps resetting the market is not as meaningful as protecting Jackson’s blindside for the foreseeable future and remaining with a well-respected organization that appears to have a championship-caliber foundation.

According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, though, the expectation is that Stanley’s next contract will exceed Tunsil’s. Stanley is presently slated to earn $12.8MM in 2020 under the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL To Vote On Major Rule Changes

The NFL figures to look mighty different in 2020. On Tuesday, owners will vote on the following rule proposals, per a press release from the league office: 

  • From the Eagles: An alternative to the onside kick, that would allow the trailing team a chance to keep the ball after scoring by going for it on a 4th-and-15 play from the kicking team’s 25-yard line. As Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter) notes, this is similar to the rule used by the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.
  • From the Eagles: A permanent expansion of automatic replay to including “scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful/ unsuccessful try attempt.”
  • From the Dolphins: Give the defense the option to have the clock to start on the referee’s signal, if the defense declines an offensive penalty late in the first or second half.
  • From the Ravens and Chargers: The addition of a “booth umpire” as well as the addition of a “Senior Technology Advisor to the Referee” to assist officials.
  • Increased “defenseless player protection” for a kick or punt returner who is “in possession of the ball but who has not had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.” (from the Competition Committee)
  • Cutting down on game clock manipulation by disallowing “multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running.” (from the Competition Committee)

The Eagles’ proposed amendment to the league’s onside kick is the boldest of the bunch, and support is growing among owners, Pelissero hears (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the Ravens/Chargers idea for a “sky judge” also has momentum (Twitter link). Either way, Pelissero gets the sense that some version of that concept will be tested in the preseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Ravens To Consider Out-Of-State Training Camp

The Ravens hope to hold their training camp at their team facility but will consider relocating due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several teams have joined the Ravens in discussing relocation measures. Although Maryland lifted its stay-at-home order Friday, it marks an early phase of a gradual reopening plan. Gatherings of more than 10 people will remain restricted, per Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

We’ll consider all options,” Ravens president Dick Cass said, via the Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer. “I think when we think about the option of trying to move our training camp outside Maryland, we don’t like that option. We think that we can conduct training camp safely in Maryland. We know that our building will be absolutely pristine, and I think the safest place to conduct our training camp will be in Maryland, at our facility.

“But if circumstances don’t allow that, we will explore the options that are available to us. We have to.”

Cass does not expect Ravens players at the team facility until training camp. Last week, the NFL announced its first phase in what it hopes will be a successful reopening. Certain staffers may return to team facilities in states where no stay-at-home order exists, but coaches and non-injured players remain barred from team headquarters. In addition to teams’ 90-man rosters being present at training camp, dozens of additional coaches and other personnel are on hand for camp in a normal year. But social-distancing measures will make holding camp a challenge for teams. For some in states more affected by the coronavirus, relocations may be imminent.

The Ravens have never held a training camp outside of Maryland. They have convened each summer at their facility in Owings Mills since 2011. In the franchise’s first 15 years, McDaniel College in Westminster served as the camp site.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Notes: Running Game, Salary Cap

After the Ravens added Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Mark Ingram believes his team officially has the best running game in the league.

  • Sticking with Baltimore, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta told season ticket holders that the team doesn’t have a whole lot of salary cap flexibility (via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec on Twitter). DeCosta noted that if the front office did open up space, they’d likely pursue a pass rusher/linebacker or a veteran offensive lineman.