Matt Skura

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Wilson, Ravens

After leaving for Los Angeles to care for his coronavirus-stricken son, John Ross has returned to the Bengals. The fourth-year wide receiver, however, has landed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list, Mike Garafolo of notes (video link). Ross’ son and the baby’s mother tested positive for COVID-19. Pending no positive virus tests, Ross can return to action as soon as Saturday.

Moving first to a Browns injury situation, here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Browns linebacker Mack Wilson is awaiting word on the severity of a knee injury he suffered in practice recently. The Cleveland starter is expected to miss several weeks because of a knee hyperextension, Ian Rapoport of notes (video link). No tear is believed to have occurred, per Rapoport, but surgery appears to still be on the table. That would put Wilson’s season in jeopardy. With the Browns having disbanded their veteran linebacking corps over the past year and change, Wilson is now the team’s longest-tenured starter at that position. The 2019 fifth-round pick made 14 starts as a rookie.
  • Bengals safety Shawn Williams has also run into injury trouble. The eighth-year defender was carted off during a recent practice with a calf ailment. Williams has sought a second opinion, and’s Tom Pelissero writes optimism exists the longtime starter can return in time for the Bengals’ Week 1 game (Twitter link). Williams has been a starter for the past four seasons, but the Bengals signing former Saints starter Vonn Bell could potentially cloud Williams’ role.
  • Nine months after tearing his ACL, PCL and MCL and dislocating his kneecap, Matt Skura returned to practice. The Ravens‘ first-string center passed his physical and was back in time for the team’s first padded practice, the team announced. Skura’s return, in a contract year, would be key for a Ravens team that saw potential Hall of Fame guard Marshal Yanda retire after 13 seasons.
  • It appears the Ravens will put their sixth-round pick to work quickly. Wide receiver James Proche is on track to be the team’s punt returner, but Baltimore special teams coordinator Chris Horton said (via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, on Twitter) the SMU product is a candidate to return kicks as well. The Ravens recently signed veteran return man Kenjon Barner, so Proche still being in contention for the kick-return role is interesting.

Ravens’ Matt Skura Ahead Of Schedule In Recovery

Center Matt Skura has made a “remarkable” recovery from his knee injury, according to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic). With rave reviews for his conditioning test and other exams, Skura seems on course for the 2020 season. 

[RELATED: Ravens On Jamal Adams’ Trade List]

The Ravens haven’t put a timetable on Skura’s full recovery, but the hope is that he’ll be ready to go by the start of training camp. There, he’ll compete with last year’s fill-in Patrick Mekari and possibly Bradley Bozeman, if they try the guard out at center.

Skura suffered a devastating knee injury towards the end of season, rupturing his ACL, PCL, and MCL. Before that, the 27-year-old was extremely durable. In 2018, he never missed a game or even a single snap.

After Ryan Jensen‘s departure, Skura graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 ranked center in the league. Up until the injury, he was likely on course for a deal that would make him one of the league’s higher-paid centers. Now, he’ll have to duke it out for his first-string gig. The Ravens, meanwhile, will likely stand pat at the position now that Skura is back.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens C Matt Skura Signs RFA Tender

Ravens center Matt Skura has inked his restricted free agent tender, according to agent David Canter (on Twitter). With that, Skura will return to the club on a $2.133MM deal for 2020.

[RELATED: Ravens GM Eric DeCosta On 2020 Draft]

Skura suffered a devastating knee injury in the final stretch of the season, forcing him to go under the knife for tears in his ACL, PCL, and MCL. Before that, Skura was remarkably durable. The 27-year-old had perfect attendance dating back to 2018 and never even missed a snap.

The Ravens turned to Skura in 2018 after Ryan Jensen left to join the Buccaneers. In his first season in the middle, Skura graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 ranked center in the NFL. This year, it looked like he was on course for a solid multi-year pay day, up until the fateful injury in Week 12. After that, the Ravens handed things over to rookie Patrick Mekari for the last four games, plus the divisional round loss to the Titans.

Meanwhile, the Ravens’ work on the offensive line is not done. They still need more support on the interior line and GM Eric DeCosta seems open to the idea of converting one of this year’s promising rookie tackles into a guard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Tender C Matt Skura

The Ravens are using the low tender on center Matt Skura, as Mike Garafolo of tweets. This will lock Skura in at a reasonable salary for the 2020 season, though they’ll receive no compensation if another team signs him as a restricted free agent and the Ravens do not match the offer. 

Skura is working his way back from a major knee injury, one that capped the starter at eleven games last year. After suffering ACL, MCL and PCL tears, Skura is still a few weeks away from running, though he hopes to be a participant in training camp this summer.

Before the injury, the 27-year-old had not missed a game since taking over for Ryan Jensen when he left for the Bucs in 2018. In fact, he never missed a snap. Skura played 1,889 snaps in that ’18 season and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 overall center. If teams feel confident in his health, he seems likely to garner lots of interest and could even find a decent chunk of guaranteed money in an offer sheet.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Williams, Ravens, Steelers

The Browns are once again in on a Trent Williams pursuit, but they were persistent in their efforts to acquire the Pro Bowl tackle last year. Previous GM John Dorsey called the Redskins every week about their disgruntled left tackle, according to Albert Breer of However, the then-Bruce Allen-led front office gave Dorsey a flat no each time, per Breer. Even Baker Mayfield, like Williams an Oklahoma alum, communicated with Williams about a trade, Breer adds. Dorsey was believed to have offered a second-round pick to Washington for Williams, who ended up skipping all of last season, but the Redskins were holding out for a first. Daniel Snyder fired Allen at season’s end. Now, the Ron Rivera-run Washington front office appears willing to accept compensation less than a first-rounder for Williams. The Browns will not bring back Greg Robinson, and right tackle Chris Hubbard may be a cap-casualty candidate.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Matt Skura‘s season ended after 11 games, with the Ravens‘ top center going down with ACL, MCL and PCL tears on a Monday night in Los Angeles. Skura also dislocated a kneecap. It will understandably be a while before the fourth-year offensive lineman resurfaces, but Skura said during an appearance on Sirius XM Radio (via Alex Marvez, on Twitter) he expects to resume running in a few weeks and expressed optimism about being ready for training camp. One season remains on Skura’s rookie contract, so this rehab effort will certainly be key toward Skura securing his payday.
  • Kelechi Osemele left Baltimore when his rookie contract expired, signing a then-guard-record deal with the Raiders in free agency. Osemele played four seasons on that five-year contract but saw an injury (and subsequent grievance) end his Jets run early last year. With Osemele a free agent, Mike Garafolo notes he could be a name to watch as a replacement for the retiring Marshal Yanda (video link). Osemele, 30, underwent shoulder surgery last year and has battled injuries in recent seasons, but Garafolo adds the former All-Pro guard wants to continue playing and is expected to be ready well before Week 1. A former Ravens Round 2 pick, Osemele started 51 games at guard and tackle with Baltimore.
  • Both Ramon Foster and Mark Barron could be Steelers cap casualties, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Foster re-signed to stay in Pittsburgh last year and has started 145 games at guard with the Steelers since 2009. A cut would save the cap-strapped Steelers $4MM. The Rams released Barron last year; he caught on with the Steelers and started nine games. Pittsburgh still has Vince Williams under contract and would save $5.25MM by dropping Barron.

Ravens Notes: Carr, Skura, Pierce

Here’s a look at the Ravens as they get set for the offseason ahead:

  • Ravens defensive back Brandon Carr told reporters that the “ball is in [the Ravens’] court” when asked about his future (Twitter link via’s Jamison Hensley). Carr, 34 in May, is under contact for 2020, but the Ravens can create $6MM by releasing him. For his part, Carr wants to return – he called the 2019 season one of the “best rides” of his 12-year career. Carr has not missed a single game since 2008 and has started in every appearance. The durable veteran finished out 2019 with two sacks, 49 tackles, and six passes defensed.
  • Ravens center Matt Skura, who is on crutches after knee surgery, said there is no timetable on his return (Twitter link via Hensley). After tearing his his ACL, PCL and MCL, he hopes to be back for training camp.
  • Interior defensive lineman Michael Pierce is headed towards unrestricted free agency, but he hopes to return to the Ravens in 2020 (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic). Pierce, 27, is due for a raise after starting in 14 games for Baltimore in 2019.

Ravens C Matt Skura Out For Season

The knee injury that required Matt Skura to be carted off the Los Angeles Coliseum field Monday night will force a key adjustment for the surging Ravens. Baltimore’s starting center will miss the rest of the season, Mike Garafolo of tweets. He will undergo surgery to repair his right knee.

Given the Ravens’ snapping reins after Ryan Jensen defected to the Buccaneers in 2018, Skura has not missed a start since changing positions last year. The Duke product began his career in 2017 as Baltimore’s right guard starter. Rookie UDFA Patrick Mekari replaced Skura during the Ravens’ 45-6 win.

Not only had Skura not missed a game since taking over for Jensen, he had not missed a snap. The 2016 UDFA had played all 1,889 snaps over the past two seasons, doing so despite the Ravens taking members of their starting offense out during a few fourth quarters this year. Pro Football Focus graded the ex-Blue Devil as this season’s No. 12 overall center. Skura is set for restricted free agency in March.

Baltimore’s offensive line has helped Lamar Jackson become the MVP frontrunner, ranking fourth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards metric. The Ravens’ unorthodox offense leads the league in rushing by a staggering 65 yards. While the Ravens continued to gash the Rams without Skura, this setback will surely be a significant adjustment for the league’s hottest team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Ravens, Taylor

Mike Tomlin addressed the contract status of his top running back and is hopeful that the key players being in the same room will bring about a long-awaited resolution to the Le’Veon Bell impasse. The 12th-year Steelers coach believes everyone involved in this process wants this deal finalized.

Now it’s just about negotiators getting into a room and doing what it is they need to do,” Tomlin told WAVY-TV’s Bruce Rader (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN). “I’m excited and hopeful. Hopefully we’ll have some exciting news before Monday.”

Earlier Saturday, Ian Rapoport of reported some late progress has emerged here after previously it was looking like a strong possibility existed of Bell hitting the 2019 free agent market. The deadline for franchise-tagged performers to sign extensions is 3pm CT Monday. If Bell does not reach a deal, he’s not expected to show up at the Steelers’ facility until after the preseason concludes.

Aside from the division-dominating Bell saga, here’s what’s going on in the AFC North heading into training camps:

  • After losing Ryan Jensen to the Buccaneers, the Ravens are in need of a new center. Going into camp, the hope is second-year Raven and former UDFA Matt Skura commandeers the job, Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun notes. A Duke product who entered the league two years ago, Skura started 12 games in relief of Marshal Yanda last season at right guard. Pro Football Focus didn’t view those starts as particularly memorable, placing Skura’s 2017 work near the bottom of the guard hierarchy. Lee adds that while Alex Lewis will be tried at left guard, the part-time 2016 Baltimore starter also hovers as a center option.
  • A scenario where Tyrod Taylor sees another year in Cleveland by holding off Baker Mayfield into 2019 has been discussed by some this offseason. It just doesn’t seem realistic, Mary Kay Cabot of said (video link). Cabot does not see a scenario that Taylor is on the 2019 Browns, partially because he may have a starting opportunity elsewhere next season as Baker Mayfield ascends to claim the Browns’ job. Even if Taylor leads the Browns to a surprise playoff berth, Cabot can see John Dorsey following his former organization’s example by moving on from the starter that got them there and installing the first-round pick the following year.
  • The Steelers drafted James Washington in the second round because they “love” his ability to adjust on deep targets and make contested catches, Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes. Washington’s ability to win 50-50 balls will make him credible in an area in which Martavis Bryant didn’t display a reliable skill last season, Benz writes, though conceding the former Oklahoma State star doesn’t have Bryant’s athleticism.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/17/18

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

Los Angeles Rams

New York Jets

Seattle Seahawks