Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin signs two-year deal with Ravens

If you’re a Baltimore sports fan, this past weekend was not the most enjoyable.  The Orioles were swept by the Yankees and the Ravens were waiting on the edge of their seat to hear if they had landed a deal with Jeremy Maclin.

Some good news finally came on Monday as Maclin announced he had signed a two-year deal with the Ravens. Maclin received interest from multiple teams, but only the Ravens and the Buffalo Bills made serious efforts to sign him over the past few weeks.

Early last week, the receiver visited the Buffalo Bills organization before heading to Owings Mills to visit the Ravens. Many fans became worried that Maclin was more interested in Buffalo since he spent an extra day with them, and he has former teammates in the organization. Despite all of that, Maclin made his visit to Baltimore and multiple sources reported that the meeting went very well.

If there was one thing keeping fans’ hopes alive, it’s the Ravens track record with free agents. Baltimore’s free agency recruiting has become notorious in the past few seasons after landing deals with players like Steve Smith, Eric Weddle, Mike Wallace, and Tony Jefferson. It came as no surprise that all of these players helped recruit Maclin just as much as Ozzie Newsome and the front office.

Baltimore had many needs coming into this offseason and were able to address a handful of them in the early stages of free agency as well as the draft. However, the wide receiver position remained neglected. With Dennis Pitta going down with another hip injury last week, the Ravens were even more desperate for a reliable receiver as the season approaches.

It appears that they have gotten just that and possibly much more with Maclin. In seven seasons in the NFL, Maclin has accumulated 46 touchdowns and 6395 yards while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. The 29-year-old veteran has played with a handful of quarterbacks in his career, but it should be safe to say that Joe Flacco will be the one with the strongest arm and definitely the one with the most postseason success.

Maclin joins a receiving core with very few notable names. Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman are the only two standouts, so Maclin’s presence is very exciting for fans.  In addition to reporting the Maclin signing, a few writers noted that the Ravens could still be interested in pursuing a trade with the New York Jets for Eric Decker. Former Raven Anquan Boldin has also had his name thrown around in the free agency conversation.

One thing that needs to be said is that this receiving core is still average at best. Maclin does not do anything to fix the lack of depth and there is still a level of uncertainty when it comes to the tight ends. This is definitely great news, but the Ravens would be wise to keep their eyes on the wide receiver market.

Ravens sign cornerback Carr to four year deal

The Ravens made another addition to their secondary on Thursday afternoon when they signed former cowboys cornerback, Brandon Carr to a four year deal.

The deal itself is only two years at $12 million, but there are options in place that can make it a four year deal at $24 million.

One of the highlights of signing Carr has to be his durability. Since his rookie season in 2008, the veteran cornerback has never missed a start in his career. Over the last three seasons, Carr has posted 167 tackles and 24 pass deflections.

With the release of Shareece Wright earlier in the month and the departure of Lardarius Webb last week, the Ravens were in desperate need of some cornerback depth. Carr is a pleasant addition to a team with a lack of defensive stability.

Looking ahead to the 2017 season there are still plenty of questions and concerns surrounding the Ravens but the secondary is starting to look more secure. When the team signed Tony Jefferson on the first day of free agency, they created a good core for the secondary. Carr along with second-year corner, Tavon Young will help round out that foundation.

Ravens trade center Jeremy Zuttah to San Francisco

On Wednesday afternoon the Ravens reached an agreement that will send Jeremy Zuttah and a sixth round pick to San Francisco in exchange for the 49ers sixth round pick. Essentially, the Ravens will move up 12 spots in the sixth round of the 2017 draft in exchange for Zuttah.

The news comes hours after reports that Zuttah would be released by the Ravens. Reporters said that the team decided to release the pro bowl center after failing to find an appropriate trade offer. It looks like that was either false information or the 49ers reached out at the last minute to make their proposal.

Either way, the departure of Zuttah puts the Ravens in need of another offensive lineman after Rick Wagner signed with the Lions last week. The teams best current in-house option is John Urschel who has only started a handful of games at the center position.

If the Ravens are going to find a more appropriate replacement it will be difficult. The free agent market for centers is very thin. The best free agent option would be longtime Jets center, Nick Mangold. However, the Ravens have said they are not currently pursuing him.

The news of Zuttah’s release was puzzling but a trade makes more sense. At least the Ravens will get something in return considering his release would have saved close to nothing in cap space.

Ravens to release Lardarius Webb, create $5.5 million in cap space

On Friday morning the Ravens informed Lardarius Webb that he would be released.

The move will create $5.5 million in cap space and comes as no surprise after the Ravens signed Tony Jefferson yesterday.  Webb’s contract was one of the most inflated on the team but his production over the past few seasons did not justify the cap hit.

Webb transitioned to the safety position last season after playing cornerback for the first seven years of his career. Unfortunately, the transition was not as big of a success as the team would have liked. A combination of injuries and age seem to have had a big impact on Webb in recent years and now limit his production severely.

The eight-year veteran recorded 374 tackles and 13 interceptions during his time in Baltimore.  Prior to the arrival of Jimmy Smith, Webb was the Ravens number one cornerback and served as a leader in the secondary. Only four other current Ravens have been with the team longer than Webb.

Ravens lose Wagner and Juszczyk on first day of free agency

The first day of free agency has brought its fair share of surprises around the league and the Ravens have been a big part of the mix.  While the additions of Tony Jefferson and Danny Woodhead will be celebrated, there are some important players leaving the Ravens as well.

Offensive tackle, Rick Wagner and fullback, Kyle Juszczyk were the first two Raven free agents to sign elsewhere. Wagner landed a deal with the Detroit Lions while Juszczyk will head to the west coast with a new contract from the San Francisco 49ers.

The loss of Wagner will hurt a Ravens offensive line that is trying to find stability in 2017.  Wagner’s presence would have been great alongside an improving Ronnie Stanley and a veteran like Marshal Yanda. Juszczyk’s departure is less of a problem but still has its downsides. The fifth year fullback has become a big factor in the Ravens run game and was also a popular check down target for Joe Flacco.

Both players earned their payday by being some of the top players at their position but it would have been impossible for the Ravens to keep them.  The asking prices were too high for a Baltimore franchise that still has salary cap issues.

Kenneth Dixon suspended four games for violating NFL substance abuse policy

The NFL has announced that Ravens running back, Kenneth Dixon has been suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

The Ravens provided a statement from Dixon after the news broke:

Dixon played in 12 games during his rookie year, rushing for 382 yards and two touchdowns. By the end of the season, Dixon had earned the starting role after splitting downs with Terrance West for much of the season.  Dixon was projected to continue as the starter in 2017 but that will have to wait until at least week five of the season.

As this story broke, the signing of free agent running back, Danny Woodhead became more clear.  The veteran rusher will provide stability in the run game until Dixon returns. With that being said, Woodhead has proven himself as a starter throughout his career and could remain in that role even after Dixon returns.

Ravens General Manager, Ozzie Newsome said that Dixon must learn from this mistake and work to rebuild his relationship with teammates and coaches.  “While we are disappointed in the decision Kenneth made, we appreciate the fact that he has assumed responsibility for his actions,” said Newsome.

Ravens release defensive backs Wright and Lewis, free $4.9 million in cap space

On Tuesday afternoon the Ravens announced that they had terminated the contracts of Shareece Wright and Kendrick Lewis.

The release of both players is expected to free up $4.9 million in salary cap space for 2017. It has been no secret that the Ravens will have one of the toughest offseasons this year, due to the fifth smallest salary cap in the NFL and a high number of players set to hit free agency later this week.

Some of these players, like Brandon Williams and Rick Wagner, are likely to draw major attention from other teams. The Ravens will need all the cap space they can get in order to compete with these outside offers as well as sign free agents of their own.

The release of Lewis is not very surprising considering he only played in six games during the 2016 season and tallied just six tackles. Lewis was more prominent in the 2015 defense, where he played in 15 games.

Wright’s release is more surprising and comes exactly one year after he signed a three year contract extension. In 2016 he was expected to play alongside Jimmy Smith as the #2 cornerback but only started in 12 games. His performance dipped as well. Wright seemed like completely different player at times, missing tackles and being out of place in coverage.

This down year was a disappointment but the lack of depth at the cornerback position is also a major concern for the Ravens. By releasing Wright, Ozzie Newsome and company could be digging themselves into a bigger hole as they now have to find a proper replacement at a better price.