John Harbaugh

Ravens Intend To Keep Chuck Clark

After the events of this offseason, and the draft in particular, veteran Ravens safety Chuck Clark has been named as a player the team might look to move on from. Head coach John Harbaugh doesn’t see him going anywhere, however. 

When speaking to the media, Harbaugh said, “the idea is to have as many good players as you can have and have them in the right spots and the right roles. I love the fact that we have very versatile players in the backend and at safety. So, to me, Chuck is a big part of this team, and I’m planning on Chuck being here.”

Those comments were made in light of the fact that the team drafted safety Kyle Hamilton 14th overall. Lauded for his range and positional versatility, many felt that his addition would make Clark redundant. The latter has been a starter for the past three seasons, totalling 249 tackles, four interceptions and 25 pass deflections during that stretch. He has also worn the green dot as the player responsible for organizing the defense on the field.

Still, the overlap in skillsets between Clark and Hamilton has led to speculation that the Ravens could handle his situation in a similar fashion to those of Orlando Brown Jr. and Marquise Brown – highly regarded players whose trade requests were honored despite the team having the option of keeping them for at least one more season. The 27-year-old is under contract for two more years, with cap hits of $4.6MM and $5.2MM, though he has no guaranteed money remaining on his deal.

Assuming Clark is retained, he could still see plenty of playing time even if Hamilton starts right away. He has experience lining up in a number of positions, just as the latter does from his time at Notre Dame. The team should have opportunities to use three-safety packages (complementing free agent signee Marcus Williams) given their lack of established veterans at the inside linebacker and slot corner positions. If they do part ways, though, Baltimore would turn to the likes of Brandon Stephens, Tony Jefferson and Geno Stone to fill the safety void.

Latest On Ravens’ Pernell McPhee, Jimmy Smith

The Ravens roster is still taking shape and John Harbaugh isn’t sure whether two of his veteran defenders will return. When asked about the status of edge rusher Pernell McPhee and cornerback Jimmy Smith, the head coach couldn’t say whether they’d stick in Baltimore, head elsewhere, or even retire.

[RELATED: L. Jackson: “I Love My Ravens”]

I have (talked to them), but I think it’s for them to say what their plans are. I’ll leave that to them,” Harbaugh said (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic).

No matter what McPhee does, it’s likely that the Ravens will be reworking their edge group. Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser could be on his way out after a year of porous pass coverage capped by a torn Achilles. Fellow pass rusher Justin Houston is also a free agent, which means that the Ravens are likely to prioritize the position in the draft.

Smith, 34 in July, has spent his entire career in Baltimore. Since 2011, he’s suited up for 128 games with 90 starts, registering 14 interceptions, three sacks, and 374 career tackles. While he’s been a staple of the secondary, his production has clearly slipped with time. He’s also earned more than enough money to walk away, so it’s possible that he’ll move on to new endeavors this offseason.

Both players are out of contract and free to sign anywhere, but we’ve haven’t heard much about either vet in recent weeks.

Ravens Sign John Harbaugh To Extension

The Ravens will continue their John Harbaugh partnership for a while. The rumored extension for the longtime Baltimore HC came to fruition Tuesday. Steve Bisciotti announced Harbaugh has signed a three-year re-up, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec (on Twitter).

This is Harbaugh’s fifth extension since he joined the Ravens in 2008. Harbaugh, 59, was entering a contract year; he is now signed through the 2025 season. With Sean Payton moving on from his Saints post, Harbaugh will enter the season as the NFL’s third-longest-tenured HC.

While the Ravens stumbled down the stretch last season, tumbling out of the playoff picture thanks to a six-game losing streak, Harbaugh has been one of the NFL’s steadier leaders since taking over. Baltimore has ventured to nine playoff brackets under Harbaugh, who has taken the team to three AFC championship games and secured the franchise’s second Super Bowl title nine years ago. He will enter the 2022 season with 137 wins (27th all time) and a .609 win percentage (33rd all time).

Baltimore’s only two losing seasons under Harbaugh came when his starting quarterback missed significant time. Prior to Lamar Jackson missing games to close out this past season, Joe Flacco suffered a torn ACL during the 2015 campaign. During the Flacco-to-Jackson transition year, uncertainty emerged regarding Harbaugh’s Baltimore future. Jackson’s late surge in that 2018 season helped Harbaugh off the hot seat, and he has not been connected to potentially losing his job since.

With Harbaugh locked down, focus can now shift to Jackson’s contract. Harbaugh has repeatedly said the former MVP will land a long-term extension from the Ravens, but no reports have indicated the sides are particularly close on a deal.

AFC North Rumors: Ravens, Jackson, Browns, Steelers

Ravens’ general manager Eric DeCosta‘s end-of-season press conference touched on a number of subjects, including the contract extension negotiations with star quarterback Lamar Jackson. While The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec does note that head coach John Harbaugh and DeCosta make it seem as if the deal is imminent, it isn’t guaranteed that Jackson signs an extension before the start of the 2022 NFL season.

“I would say that we’re working at Lamar’s pace. He’s comfortable with where we are right now,” DeCosta stated. He did call negotiations “unusual” with Jackson essentially acting as his own agent. There doesn’t seem to be any rush to get a deal done, though. DeCosta acknowledged that the Ravens are fine with Jackson playing on his fifth-year option, and Jackson seems more focused on the team’s unfinished business after being the AFC’s number one-seed in 2020 but failing to make it to a Super Bowl yet.

Here are a few more notes on the AFC North, starting with another item out of Charm City:

  • DeCosta spoke a bit, as well, about the team’s plan to focus on offensive line this offseason. One of the things that they fear they’ll need to address is the free agency of center Bradley Bozeman. Bozeman moved from guard to center after Matt Skura signed with the Dolphins in free agency last year, and they’re afraid Bozeman’s play has priced him out of Maryland. Baltimore saw Ryan Jensen leave to become the highest paid center in football in 2018, so they’re certainly used to replacing centers. They currently have utility lineman Patrick Mekari, who has started games at all three offensive line positions throughout his young Ravens’ career, and who signed an extension late in the season.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller became close friends as they rehabbed together in Colorado Springs last offseason, dreaming about eventually playing together. According to George M. Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal, Beckham made it clear that if they were to make it a reality, it couldn’t be in orange and brown. Miller informed Thomas that Beckham told him straight up, “Don’t come to Cleveland.” In the end, Miller was traded to the Rams and, following a nasty separation from the Browns, Beckham signed to join him in Los Angeles. The pair are now set to play in Super Bowl LVI against a team Beckham knows all too well from his time in the AFC North.
  • With longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retiring last week, head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert represented Pittsburgh at Senior Bowl practices this week. Despite the quarterback group leaving much to be desired through some injury concerns and bad weather, Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus reports that buzz around the event is that the Steelers like Liberty quarterback Malik Willis. Willis has shown the best combination of athleticism and arm strength at practices this week and a source informed Kyed that he’s impressed in interviews, as well. The Steelers currently hold the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and could easily see Willis fall to them, as he’s been seen as a borderline first round pick since declaring. They could also risk potentially missing out on him and trade back later in the first round or early in the second and try to maximize need and value.

Ravens, John Harbaugh Nearing Extension

The Ravens are prepared to keep John Harbaugh around into at least the mid-2020s. With the longtime head coach’s contract up after the 2022 season, an extension agreement is expected to commence soon, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports.

Harbaugh signed his current deal in January 2019, shortly after the Ravens completed their Joe Flacco-to-Lamar Jackson transition. The former Super Bowl-winning HC had interestingly spent time on the hot seat shortly before his latest extension, but Jackson helping the team back to the playoffs in 2018 nixed those plans. No talk of a Harbaugh firing came up during the course of his current contract, either.

A new Harbaugh deal should be finalized within the next few weeks, Hensley adds. Although the 59-year-old coach oversaw a rare plummet from an 8-3 record to a playoff absence this season, injuries contributed heavily to that descent. The Ravens have made the playoffs in nine of Harbaugh’s 14 seasons, during which the elder Harbaugh brother is 137-88. With Sean Payton stepping away from his 16-year post earlier Tuesday, Harbaugh is now the NFL’s third-longest-tenured HC — behind Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin.

Baltimore’s only two losing seasons under Harbaugh came when his starting quarterback missed significant time. Prior to Jackson missing games to close out this season, Flacco suffered a torn ACL during the 2015 campaign. This will be Harbaugh’s sixth Ravens contract. After the team locks down its head coach, Jackson’s contract will re-emerge at the forefront of their offseason plans. Though, the sides still have work to do going into the former MVP’s fifth-year option season.

Harbaugh: Lamar Jackson ‘Going To Get Paid’

It seems like only a matter of time before Lamar Jackson gets a mega-extension. Speaking to the media Wednesday, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh seemed to indicate it’s already set in stone.

Harbaugh was asked whether Jackson would be affected if he didn’t get a new contract before the season starter, to which he replied “absolutely not,” via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

“He’s going to get paid. He knows that. The question becomes what’s his legacy going to be as a QB? The other thing is a done deal,” Harbaugh continued. We heard back in February that the two sides were apparently far apart on financial terms. Reports got better after that, with both Harbaugh and Jackson saying publicly they weren’t concerned.

We’ve since heard that they’ve commenced actual talks, and it sounds like the financial side of things is getting better. Jackson said last month that he isn’t concerned whether an extension happens this year or next.

He’s under contract through the 2022 campaign after the team picked up his fully guaranteed $23.1MM fifth-year salary for that season. After becoming a unanimous MVP a couple years ago Jackson, who currently operates as his own agent, will surely be looking for a payday in line with the league’s other top passers.

Dak Prescott got four years and $160MM back in March, and it’ll be very interesting to see how Jackson’s forthcoming extension compares to that. Either way, don’t anticipate much drama in these talks like there have been with other quarterbacks, as everyone involved continues to insist it’ll be smooth sailing.

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

Ravens HC: Will Be Hard To Keep Matt Judon

The Ravens want to keep Matt Judon, but head coach John Harbaugh admits that it’ll be “pretty hard” to retain the in-demand pass rusher. 

We’re going to try to get as many of these guys re-signed as we can. Matt [Judon] is probably right at the top of the list, for sure,” Harbaugh told reporters on Friday. “Our goal will be to have Matt back.”

Judon, 28 in August, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March. After notching a career-high 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in his first season as a full-time starter, Judon could fetch big bucks on the open market.

There’s some question as to whether the Ravens can afford to re-sign him to a lucrative long-term deal, but they can ill afford to lose him, either. Judon stepped up after the Ravens’ front seven lost Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith to free agency. Now, there’s no one behind the fourth-year player that could replace his production.

The Ravens will have to balance their desire to keep Judon with other pending free agents, including cornerback Jimmy Smith, defensive tackle Michael Pierce, and linebacker Patrick Onwuasor. They’re also likely to exercise defensive back Brandon Carr‘s option, which would carry a $7MM cap figure.

As it stands, the Ravens are projected to have nearly $34MM in cap space for the offseason.

AFC North Notes: Jackson, Steelers, Bengals

The RavensLamar Jackson interest began before his junior year at Louisville. It escalated a few weeks before the 2018 draft. During a disagreement among Ravens staffers regarding quarterback preferences going into a draft that would have five QBs taken in the first round, John Harbaugh pronounced his willingness to build a new offense around the dual-threat passer.

If we draft Lamar, I’m good with that,” Harbaugh said during an hours-long discussion about Jackson (via The Athletic’s Dan Pompei, subscription required). “We can build an offense around him. We’ll play great special teams, great defense and be a ball-control offense. We’ll build a big, physical offensive line. We’ll get physical running backs. We’ll block on the perimeter. We’ll run all the elements of the college offense. We’ll do something different.”

After choosing Jackson, the Ravens rode some of Greg Roman‘s Colin Kaepernick-based concepts to a division title. Harbaugh, Roman and then-OC Marty Mornhinweg considered going back to Joe Flacco when the Ravens’ offense stalled for much of their wild-card loss to the Chargers, but each of Harbaugh’s assistants agreed Jackson gave the team the best chance to win. As for the Ravens’ 2019 offense, it will feature similar run designs to what was used last season. But Pompei adds the passing attack was considerably revamped in the offseason.

I expect this to change the way offensive football is played in the National Football League,” Harbaugh said. “Not that everybody is going to take on this style. But I expect us to create something that hasn’t been seen before. … I think we’re going to be in more elements than any team has ever been.”

Here is the latest from the AFC North, shifting first to Pittsburgh:

  • This weekend, Artie Burns is due an $800K bonus. If the Steelers are to move on from the former first-round pick who has not lived up to that billing, they would stand to limit their losses by doing so soon. Burns’ camp, however, is confident the fourth-year corner will still be a Steeler by week’s end, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Pittsburgh still has Joe Haden and Mike Hilton and added UFA addition Steven Nelson and third-round pick Justin Layne.
  • A hamstring injury will move T.J. Watt to the Steelers’ active/PUP list, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. The Pro Bowl outside linebacker should be expected to return fairly soon.
  • The Bengals placed Darqueze Dennard and running back Rodney Anderson on their active/PUP list. Dennard underwent offseason knee surgery, while Anderson’s college career ended after an ACL tear. The former Oklahoma running back is a candidate for the reserve/PUP list to start the season, per Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Should Anderson stay on the PUP list to start the season, he must remain there for six regular-season weeks.

John Harbaugh’s Role Won’t Change With New GM

It was rumored that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh wanted to have final say on personnel decisions with the team moving from Ozzie Newsome to Eric DeCosta as general manager in 2019. The coach dispelled those rumors, however, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley tweets

“It works the same way, except now Eric is in the seat. Eric is the decision-maker, and he’ll be the guy making that final call, and he’ll also be the guy that will be building from the ground up.”

It took a few days to announce Harbaugh’s new contract, leading some to think the team’s longtime head coach was searching for more of a say in the team’s front office. However, he is not starting from scratch with DeCosta. The two have been in the organization since Harbaugh arrived, with DeCosta even beginning his tenure with the team in 1996. Though he won’t have “final say,” Harbaugh harped on the organization’s excellent communication.

“This is an organization that works together. We cross paths and we talk everything out – football, scouting, medical, weight strength and conditioning, everything you can think of. To me, it doesn’t matter who has what say over what. It’s never been about that here.”

Earlier in the week, Harbaugh signed a four-year extension that will keep him in Baltimore through the 2019 campaign. Before putting ink to paper, the longtime coach had one year remaining on his deal.