C.J. Mosley (LB)

Ravens Notes: Flacco, Mosley, Smith, Culley

The Ravens and new general manager Eric DeCosta aren’t expected to make a decision on the fate of quarterback Joe Flacco until March, as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes. The new league year begins in roughly six weeks, and while no trade can be made official until then, Baltimore could agree to deal Flacco to another club before the 2019 league year gets underway. Any pre-June 1 release or trade of Flacco will leave the Ravens with $16MM in dead money; a move after June 1 would put $8MM in dead money on Baltimore’s 2019 books and the same amount on their 2020 cap. In a PFR poll earlier this week, 71% of voters believed the Ravens will be able to find a trade partner for Flacco.

Here’s more from Baltimore:

  • Linebacker C.J. Mosley is perhaps the Ravens’ most important pending free agent, and DeCosta told reporters he “believe[s] in [his] heart” that Mosley will return in 2019, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Mosley, who has missed only two games during his five-year run in Baltimore, graded as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 22 linebacker in 2019. He’s reportedly begun contract talks with the Ravens, but head coach John Harbaugh admitted there are “limitations with money.” Luke Kuechly currently tops the inside linebacker market with a $12.4MM annual salary, while the second tier of the position sits between $10MM and $10.75MM.
  • DeCosta didn’t sound as positive when discussing the possibility of re-signing edge rusher Za’Darius Smith, tweets Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. “We don’t know what Za’Darius’ market is going to be,” said DeCosta. “He had a really nice year. Typically, the market is usually out of control for those guys, initially out of the gate.” Smith, 26, played the most defensive snaps of his career in 2019, managing 8.5 sacks in the process.
  • The Ravens have hired former Bills quarterbacks coach David Culley as assistant head coach/wide receivers/passing game coordinator, Baltimore announced this week. Culley’s addition will complete the Ravens’ offensive staff overhaul, which began when new offensive coordinator Greg Roman was promoted to take the place of Marty Mornhinweg, who rejected another position inside the organization. Culley, 63, overlapped with Ravens head coach Harbaugh on Andy Reid‘s Eagles staff, serving as Philadelphia’s wide receivers coach while Harbaugh led the club’s special teams and defensive backs

Latest On Ravens, C.J. Mosley

C.J. Mosley played out his five-year rookie contract with the Ravens, and the sides are discussing a second deal. But the Ravens may not be willing to shell out a monster pact to keep one of their top players.

Yeah, you’d rather have C.J. back,” John Harbaugh said, via Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun. “There’s always the give and take, of course. There are limitations with money, but C.J. wants to be back and we want him back. I think that’s a really good formula for a player coming back.

“I’m just not even going to entertain the possibility right now that that wouldn’t happen. I’ll just assume that’s going to happen.”

Baltimore holds middle-of-the-pack cap space ($28MM-plus), and while clearing Joe Flacco‘s contract off their books would help, a trade would also bring some 2019 cap charges. Inside linebackers Benardrick McKinney and Eric Kendricks signed $10MM-AAV extensions last year. A four-time Pro Bowler, Mosley will be seeking to land a higher-end deal. Jamie Collins and Luke Kuechly still represent the standard for off-ball linebackers, earning $12MM-plus on average.

Mosley, 26, led the Ravens in tackles in three of his five seasons. He registered 105 stops this season, one in which Pro Football Focus gave him a middling coverage grade this season. The Ravens also have Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith looming as UFAs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens, C.J. Mosley Begin Contract Talks

C.J. Mosley is scheduled for free agency in March, but the Ravens have opened up contract talks to try and keep him off the open market, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Mosley is also a franchise tag candidate (and probably the team’s only viable option for the tag), but the team would prefer to work out a long-term deal to tamp down costs in 2019. 

[RELATED: Marty Mornhinwheg Leaves Ravens Staff]

The franchise tag would cost the Ravens upwards of $15MM. That’s a huge hit, particularly for an inside linebacker who struggles in coverage.

Still, Mosley is one of the Ravens’ best defenders and the team historically has not allowed its best defensive players to get away. A long term deal would allow the Ravens to stay the course at a key position while leaving enough flexibility to build around Lamar Jackson on the other side of the ball.

Mosley, 27 in June, finished out the regular season with 105 tackles, five passes defensed, and one interception in 15 games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Broncos, Crennel, Rhule, Henry

Mike Munchak is once again a popular head coaching candidate, with at least four teams interested in his services. But we heard last night that Munchak has strong interest in the Broncos‘ opening, and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) reports that Munchak has emerged as the early favorite for that position. Helping the Broncos’ cause is the fact that Munchak has family, including a granddaughter, in the Denver area.

Now for more rumors and rumblings from the AFC:

  • The Broncos are blocking other teams from interviewing senior personnel adviser Gary Kubiak for offensive coordinator jobs, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Kubiak wants to remain in Denver anyway, but he has expressed interest in returning to the sidelines as an OC, and the Broncos would like him to serve in that role under whomever they hire as their next head coach (assuming that person is comfortable with such an arrangement). The Bengals and Falcons had requested interviews.
  • Texans free agents-to-be Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu want to be back in Houston next year, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. There has been no word on whether the Texans will move to re-sign Jackson, but the team does want Mathieu back, as we learned yesterday.
  • Romeo Crennel is expected to return as the Texans‘ DC in 2019, per head coach Bill O’Brien (via Wilson on Twitter).
  • The Jets have interest in interviewing Baylor head coach Matt Rhule for their own HC vacancy, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com suggests that Gang Green will get an interview with Rhule (Twitter link). The team is in Dallas interviewing Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard today, and Albert Breer of SI.com believes New York brass could interview Rhule while they’re in Texas (Dallas is about 90 minutes from Waco).
  • Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers should be able to land a lucrative free agent deal this offseason, but since he is not a prototypical speed-rushing DE, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com believes it is difficult to pin down what his value will be on the open market. Reiss suggests Flowers could return to New England after testing the free agent waters.
  • The Chargers will remain without tight end Hunter Henry for today’s playoff bout in Baltimore, but if LA wins today, Rapoport says that Henry will be activated tomorrow in the hopes of suiting up against New England next week.
  • Rapoport reiterates that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will not be back in Baltimore next season, but Flacco (unsurprisingly) wants to continue his playing career, and Rapoport suggests that he will get an opportunity as a starter (video link). The only real question is whether Baltimore will be able to trade him or if the club will be forced to cut him.
  • In addition to Flacco, the Ravens will need to decide what to do with impending free agent C.J. Mosley in the offseason. It would probably be unwise to sink too much money into an inside linebacker who struggles in coverage, but Mosley’s leadership abilities for a defense that could be losing a number of key veterans will certainly be a factor in contract negotiations, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Ravens, Bengals, Bills

The Raiders surprisingly re-signed wide receiver Martavis Bryant earlier this week after initially waiving him at final cutdowns, and head coach Jon Gruden is optimistic on Bryant’s chances to contribute, as Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. “He’s in a good place right now,” Gruden said. “I think he’s healthy. I think he’s ready to go. We’re sold on that. We’ve been in contact with him since he has been away. I’ve said it before: when he’s right, he can be a difference maker and we’re hoping he can be one sooner rather than later.”

Bryant is reportedly facing a yearlong suspension after another alleged violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but he’s eligible to play until the league formally announces a ban. Indeed, Bryant is expected to suit up for the Raiders when they face the Broncos on Sunday. Bryant didn’t take any sort of pay cut to return to Oakland, as he’ll collect the same $1.907MM (prorated) salary he was originally due, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Linebacker C.J. Mosley did not suffer any ligament damage in the Ravens‘ Thursday night loss to the Bengals, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters, including Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). While Mosley may miss Baltimore’s Week 3 contest against Denver, Harbaugh doesn’t think Mosley is facing a long-term absence. For what it’s worth, the Ravens announced Mosley had a bone bruise when he left last night’s game. As Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes, Mosley has arguably become Baltimore’s most indispensable defender, so the Ravens will be hard-pressed to replace him for any period of time. Mosley, 26, is currently playing out the final year of his contract, but he hadn’t progressed on an extension with the Ravens as of July.
  • Elsewhere from Thursday night’s game, Bengals center Billy Price suffered a foot sprain, according to head coach Marvin Lewis (Twitter link via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer). The injury doesn’t sound all that serious, as Lewis indicated he was “surprised” Price wasn’t cleared to return to Cincinnati’s eventual victory. Price, the 21st overall selection in this year’s draft, was part of a Bengals offensive line overhaul that also included the acquisition of left tackle Cordy Glenn. If Price is forced to miss action, he’ll be replaced by reserve Trey Hopkins, who started 12 games for Cincinnati in 2017.
  • The Bills will start first-round rookie Josh Allen at quarterback on Sunday after Nathan Peterman and the rest of Buffalo’s offense was thrashed by Baltimore in Week 1, leading Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com to examine whether deploying Allen this early in the season is the correct decision. Allen won’t be forced to face Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, but the Los Angeles defense will certainly present a challenge for the Wyoming product.

Injury Notes: Elflein, DeCastro, Mosley

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said today that starting center Pat Elflein will be returning to the field “pretty soon.” However, the coach wasn’t able to give a definite return date, which probably indicates that the offensive lineman won’t be ready for this weekend’s matchup against the Packers.

“It’s way too early,” Zimmer said (via Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com). “I’m not going to make any determinations like that yet.”

The offensive lineman missed the preseason and the first week of the season as he recovered from shoulder and ankle ailments, but he’s still found ways to contribute to the team. As Tomasson writes, the second-year pro has been tutoring replacement Brett Jones, who was acquired from the Giants in late August.

“Pat’s been a lot of help so far, and it’s been good,” Jones said. “We’re trying to get on the same page with me being new, and he’s made the transition easier. He’s played lots of these defenses, just being in the (NFC North), so he can help me out with what to expect.”

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Steelers All-Pro guard David DeCastro fractured his hand during last weekend’s game, and he acknowledged that the injury was worse than he initially thought. The offensive lineman has sat out the past few days of practice, and he’s set to be fitted for a brace. While he may have to wait another few days for swelling to go down, DeCastro indicated that it wouldn’t be missed practice time that forces him to miss a game. “I’m old enough now,” he told Joe Rutter of TribLive.com. “We’ll see how the swelling goes.” The 28-year-old has only missed a single regular season game over the past three seasons, and he’s earned three Pro Bowl nods during that span.
  • C.J. Mosley was carted off the field during the Ravens‘ game against the Bengals tonight, and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the linebacker is being evaluated for a knee injury (Mosley has since been diagnosed with a bone bruise). His absence was felt right away; after forcing a three-and-out on Cincy’s first drive, the Ravens defense allowed touchdowns on the next three series. Much of this could be attributed to Baltimore’s lack of depth and experience at middle linebacker, as the team is only rostering Patrick Onwuasor, Chris Board, and Bam Bradley (currently on the PUP) behind Mosley.
  • Leonard Fournette is feeling better, but the Jaguars running back said it will be a “game time decision” on whether he’ll play this weekend against the Patriots.

North Notes: Browns, Bryant, Ravens

Could the Browns entertain the idea of signing Dez Bryant? In the wake of Josh Gordon‘s latest setback, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) wonders aloud if the Browns could call on Bryant to fill the void. The Browns certainly have the cap space to sign Bryant, but it’s not immediately clear whether there’s interest or whether Gordon’s situation will necessitate a signing. For now, all we know is that the Browns have placed Gordon on the NFI list and he is not under suspension from the NFL. Not yet, at least.

Here’s more from the AFC and NFC North:

  • The Ravens and linebacker C.J. Mosley have yet to make progress on an extension. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic isn’t exactly sure what the holdup is, but he posits a few theories. It’s possible that the Ravens are hesitant to sign a defensive standout to a long-term deal after injuries hampered players like Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb after their extensions. It’s also possible that the Ravens do not value inside linebackers as much as other clubs because of their history of finding UDFA gems at the position. Or, perhaps GM-to-be Eric DeCosta does not want to tie up the club’s future cap space. Still, with a number of players on expiring deals and others with minimal guarantees, the team should have enough flexibility to sign Mosley.
  • Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga had a workout with Lions last week, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Siliga had eight tackles for the Bucs in eight games last year.
  • Here’s the latest the Browns and Gordon.

Ravens, C.J. Mosley Not Progressing On Deal

Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley has been pushing for an extension this offseason, but it doesn’t sound like a new deal is imminent. Mosley told reporters on Thursday that there are no updates to give with regards to his contract extension (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic). 

[RELATED – Extension Candidate: C.J. Mosley]

Mosley is entering the final year of his contract and is a prime candidate for a multi-year extension. Mosley has been open about his desire to stay with the Ravens, but he’s scheduled to reach free agency after he earns $8.718MM in 2018.

Mosley has been a durable, locker room leader since being drafted by the Ravens in 2014. With three Pro Bowl nods and eight career interceptions, the 26-year-old has made a strong case for a pay raise on a new multi-year deal. Except for Luke Kuechly, no linebacker has amassed more interceptions than Mosley over the last four seasons.

A new deal for Mosley would almost certainly call for more than $10MM per season. Recently, Texans linebacker Benardrick McKinney and Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks landed five-year, $50MM deals. Neither player has ever made a Pro Bowl, so it would be surprising to see Mosley settle for less than $11MM per season.

Last year, Mosley amassed 132 total tackles, one sack, eight pass defenses, and three forced fumbles from the inside linebacker position. His 1,077 snaps last year were the eighth most of any LB in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extension Candidate: C.J. Mosley

Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, unlike some of his fellow 2014 first-round draftees eyeing a new deal, has not held out of spring practices and has no intentions of holding out of training camp. He has previously indicated that he wants to be a Raven for life and to be remembered as the second-greatest linebacker in team history (behind Ray Lewis, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in August).

Although it is difficult to fault any player in today’s NFL for holding out in an effort to land a mega payday, Mosley’s decision to remain with the team regardless of his contract situation is emblematic of the type of leadership that makes him such a prized commodity in Baltimore. His play, of course, also speaks volumes. The Alabama product has been named to three Pro Bowls in his four-year career and has earned a reputation as something of a playmaker, as he has posted eight interceptions and eight sacks during that timeframe. Those eight interceptions rank second among linebackers over the past four years (behind Luke Kuechly‘s nine), and Mosley ranks fifth in tackles (489) and fifth in solo tackles (313) among all defensive players from 2014-17.

Perhaps just as importantly, he has been durable, having missed only two games to date. On the other hand, he can struggle in pass coverage, and while he is a very good all-around player, he is not a generational talent that makes a lucrative extension an easy call for the Ravens.

The Texans’ Benardrick McKinney recently landed a five-year, $50MM deal (with $21MM guaranteed), and the Vikings gave Eric Kendricks a similar deal in April. Mosley has a case to top both of those players, neither of whom have been selected to a Pro Bowl, and it would not be far-fetched to see him approaching or besting Kuechly’s five-year, $61MM ($27MM guaranteed) pact, which currently paces the market for inside linebackers.

But the Ravens do have a history of drafting quality ILBs, and given that Mosley is generally not the kind of game-changing player that Kuechly is, one would think Baltimore could move on and use that money elsewhere. But the Ravens typically take care of their homegrown talent, and considering Mosley’s abilities and leadership qualities, the guess here is that he and the team will come to terms on an extension that will give him around $25MM in guarantees and that averages around $11MM per year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Browns, Bears, Mosley, Cooter

Having already been connected to Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold, the Browns are midway through an all-hands-on-deck offseason when it comes to their quarterback choice. However, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com reports the Browns may not be dismissing a Baker Mayfield pick. Multiple evaluators informed Robinson that the Browns are going to be down to Darnold or Mayfield.

A lot of what he is as a player fits with the mentality of John Dorsey,” one source told Robinson from the Senior Bowl. “Just his mental makeup as a player, John believes in building around those kinds of guys. … I think he’s a strong candidate [for the top pick] after this week.”

The 6-foot passer has been mentioned the least among the top quarterbacks as being a viable option at No. 1 at this point in the pre-draft process, but Dorsey said this week there could be “four or five” prospects the team could target atop the draft. While Mayfield’s character issues are still cropping up this week, it’s looking clear he will be picked in the top half of the first round. Robinson notes former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan serves as one of Dorsey’s top sounding boards, and McCloughan’s been pro-Mayfield for a while. Another source noted Dorsey’s past with the Packers during the Brett Favre era could apply here, given Mayfield’s gunslinger style and sometimes difficult off-field persona. Nevertheless, it would quite the leap for Mayfield to rise to the top of the draft over passers who have long been viewed as better prospects.

Here’s the latest from the North divisions:

  • C.J. Mosley has no designs on leaving Baltimore. One of numerous 2014 first-round picks to be stuck in fifth-year option limbo, Mosley is eyeing a career that ends with him being ranked as the second-best linebacker in Ravens history, he said (via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). The Pro Bowl inside ‘backer expects something to get done regarding an extension. Mosley is set to make $8.718MM next season.
  • The Lions are going to have an entirely new defensive staff under Matt Patricia and already parted ways with quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan, who became a coveted commodity this week. But the expectation remains Patricia will retain OC Jim Bob Cooter, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. While the Lions have struggled on the ground under Cooter, finishing 32nd twice during his two-plus-year tenure running the offense, Matthew Stafford‘s had his best run of seasons during Cooter’s time in Detroit.
  • An internal debate’s being waged at Bears headquarters as to whether Cody Whitehair will function better as a center or guard, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes, adding this process will impact whether the team picks up Josh Sitton‘s 2018 option. Whitehair has played both spots, receiving most of his work at center, while Sitton is a pure guard. The soon-to-be 32-year-old blocker is due to count $8.57MM against the Bears’ 2018 cap if the team picks up his option.
  • Another possible factor working in Sitton’s favor for a third Bears year is the Kyle Long‘s suddenly injury-prone status. Biggs reports Long will undergo multiple surgeries this offseason. Long played in 10 games this past season after an extensive rehab process didn’t end until after the 2017 campaign began.