In a span of a couple of hours last night, the Ravens signed a wide receiver/return specialist, reached a contract extension with a veteran safety, agreed to terms with three of their draft picks and learned that their star pass rusher had successful surgery to repair a torn Achilles’ tendon. It was a lot to digest so here’s a summary and an attempt at explaining what it all means:
What it means: While acknowledging that the surgery was a success, the Ravens revealed little else. There was no update on whether Dr. Anderson fixed a complete or partial tear. There was no information on how this affects the timetable for Suggs’ return. But this we do know: the Ravens, while seemingly not ready to rule Suggs out for the 2012 campaign, expect that the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year will miss a good chunk of the season. The best-case scenario appears to be a November return, but history in most cases also suggests that it’s a 10-to-12 month injury. The bottom line is that anything the Ravens can get from Suggs in the upcoming season will be a huge bonus.
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What it means: For one, the Ravens’ offseason quest for another veteran wide receiver, and an explosive return man is probably over. It would be fair to characterize Jones as mistake-prone at times during his Texans’ tenure, but he has very good speed and he can get behind a defense. He is a threat when he touches the ball, which the Ravens simply didn’t have last year on kickoff returns. Jones, 27, will allow the Ravens to proceed cautiously with fifth-round draft pick and return specialist Asa Jackson, and not risk the health of top cornerback Lardarius Webb by making him return punts. As a wide receiver, Jones, who has gotten some criticism for his hands and his route running, immediately becomes the front runner for that No.3 spot behind Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. However, that’s hardly a sure thing. Second-year wide receivers Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams will get an opportunity and so will rookie sixth-round pick Tommy Streeter out of Miami. With Jones aboard, the Ravens now have 10 receivers on their roster and that doesn’t count the three undrafted free agent wide receivers (Devin Goda, Dorian Graham and Deonte Thompson) that are expected at camp. The battle for the wide receiver roster spots is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing storylines of the preseason.
News item: Ravens agree to a three-year extension with hard-hitting safety Bernard Pollard. Terms were not disclosed.
What it means: First of all, Pollard stays where he probably belongs. With his intensity, toughness, confidence and bravado, the strong safety proved to be a perfect fit for the Ravens’ vaunted defense, and an ideal partner for the freewheeling Ed Reed. Pollard’s free agent signing last offseason was a little bit under the radar, but he quickly emerged as an impact player, and a well-respected locker room voice. By getting the 27-year-old locked up through the 2015 season, the Ravens added some necessary stability at the safety position. While they possess three young cornerbacks, the Ravens’ outlook at safety had been a little murky with both Pollard and Reed heading into the final years of their deals and reserves Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura having bolted in free agency. But now, the Ravens got Pollard locked up for longer and in doing so, they also were able to find the salary cap space to bring in his former Texans’ teammate, Jacoby Jones.
News item: Ravens agree to terms with three of their eight 2012 draft picks: second-round pick Kelechi Osemele, a guard/tackle out of Iowa State; fourth-round pick Christian Thompson, a safety from South Carolina State; and fifth-round pick Asa Jackson, a cornerback/return specialist who went to Cal Poly.
What it means: Not a whole lot to be honest. Certainly, the Ravens would love to have all their picks under contract by the time the mandatory rookie mini-camp starts on Friday. It also would remove one more thing off the plate of Vice President of Football Administration Pat Moriarty before long-term contract negotiations with quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice are expected to heat up. But the new collective bargaining agreement, with its rookie wage scale and slotting system, has removed a lot of the stress and the haggling over signing draft picks. Players have very little incentive to hold out so most of these rookie deals have become mere formalities.
News item: Defensive Tackle Ryan McBean, who the Ravens signed to a one-year deal on Monday, had his six-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancement policy reduced to three games after he agreed to drop a lawsuit against the NFL alleging it mishandled his drug test. Assuming he makes the team and stays healthy, McBean will be eligible to play in Week Four against the Cleveland Browns.
What it means: This news reached the public yesterday though the Ravens did extensive homework on the player so they may have known that this was a good possibility earlier. Regardless, McBean has the makings of a solid member of the defensive line rotation so the quicker he can get on the field for the Ravens, the better. McBean, who is 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, had 33 tackles and four sacks last year for the Denver Broncos. He should prove to be a more than adequate replacement for Brandon McKinney.