Matt Skura

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 NFL.com 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 SI.com. 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 ESPN.com’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 NFL.com 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 NFL.com 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 cleveland.com 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

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/14/18

Here are today’s restricted free agent and exclusive-rights free agent tender decisions, with the list being updated throughout the day. All links go to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

RFAs

Tendered at the second-round level ($2.914MM):

Tendered at original round level ($1.907MM):

Non-tendered:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Non-tendered:

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Big Ben, Ravens

Following yesterday’s five-interception against the Jaguars, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger offered a concise report of his performance. “Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” Roethlisberger told Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (Twitter link). While Roethlisberger could have been hoping for levity after a brutal loss, the comments do call into question just how much longer Roethlisberger will play, especially given that he’s contemplated retirement on multiple occasions. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, the idea of forfeiting bonus money could have swayed Roethlisberger into continuing his career in 2017, but that concept will continue in the next few years. If Roethlisberger hangs up it after this season, for example, he’d owe the Steelers $12.4MM in bonus money (of course, Pittsburgh isn’t obligated to collect that total).

Here’s more from the AFC North:

  • Ravens running back Terrance West is expected to miss time after suffering a calf injury on Sunday, but he won’t facing a lengthy absence, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). West, 26, had been splitting carries with Javorius Allen and Alex Collins, and had managed 39 rushes for 138 yards and two touchdowns this season. With West sidelined, Allen figures to see even more work (he toted the ball 21 times on Sunday) while Collins could also see increased usage. But Baltimore may need to add a running back, as Allen and Collins are the only healthy runners on the roster. Practice squader John Crockett is a candidate for promotion.
  • Tyler Boyd will also be out for a few weeks, as the Bengals receiver sprained his MCL in Week 5, tweets Rapoport. Boyd, who is facing a possible legal situation and was mysteriously a healthy scratch in Week 2, has been almost completely phased out of Cincinnati’s offense this season. The former second-round pick has been targeted only nine times, and managed just six receptions for 43 yards.
  • The Ravens will be without yet another offensive lineman for the next several weeks, as guard Matt Skura suffered a sprained MCL and will miss two-to-four games, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Skura, who has started three games for the Ravens this season, will likely give way to rookie Jermaine Eluemunor at right guard. Baltimore has already lost front five players Marshal Yanda, Alex Lewis, and Nico Siragusa to injury.
  • Free agent safeties Harold Jones-Quartey and Malik Smith, plus offensive tackles Korren Kirven and Victor Salako, worked out for the Browns, per veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Of that foursome, only Jones-Quartey has NFL experience, as the 24-year-old started 12 games for the Bears in 2016.