With the exception of re-signing Jameel McClain, Brendan Ayanbadejo and Matt Birk and signing Corey Graham and Sean Considine, the Ravens off-season has been rather still. Until last week, of course.
Joe Flacco is on record saying, and I’m paraphrasing, that he thinks he’s the best quarterback in the NFL. Those comments made national news headlines and became a popular talking point of just about every sports show. Flacco was trending for much of that morning on Twitter. A hashtag, “#OtherThingsFlaccoThinksAreTheBest,” also started trending on the site. Some comments were funny, others weren’t. But in the end, his “I think I’m the best” comments created far more attention then they actually should have, mainly because that little snippet was all the media focused on. Not the part where he said “I would assume everyone thinks they’re a top-five quarterback … I don’t think I’d be very successful at my job if I didn’t feel that way.”
At the kernel of the Flacco hoopla, the Ravens quietly signed Lardarius Webb to a six-yeal deal worth $50 million and, in the process, shored up the cornerback position in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. The Webb signing didn’t affect the Ravens’ cap status all that much, but it did affect Baltimore’s return game. Cornerbacks that possess the skill set Webb has aren’t easy to come by. He didn’t allow a touchdown all season, recorded five interceptions (and an additional three in the playoffs) and ran a punt back for a touchdown. For someone who can produce as well as Webb can in the secondary, there should be no reason for him to return punts this year given his new contract.
Since John Harbaugh took over in 2008, special teams have been marginal at best. Finding a returner hasn’t been one of Baltimore’s strengths. The Ravens have been through Yamon Figures, Tom Zbikowski, David Reed, Chris Carr and Webb at the return position. Webb has proven to be the best bet but, as I said, he shouldn’t partake in the precarious special teams role simply because the Ravens can’t afford to lose him.
ESPN AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley posted last week about how Ed Reed feels disrespected by the Ravens for some unknown reason. Reed’s always been an enigmatic figure, but his disrespected cry almost feels like a slap in the face. He’ll be 33 this season, and entering the final year of his contract. It seems as if he’s using the recent Peyton Manning deal as leverage to land a lucrative deal in his grizzled years. It will be interesting to see how this plays out throughout the season and whether or not Reed becomes more willing to give Baltimore a home-town discount.
On SportsCenter‘s ‘rundown’ last week, a graphic titled “Unhappy Raven” flashed at the top and caught my eye for obvious reasons. After sitting through other NFL topics ESPN covers such as Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning, the new uniforms, Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning, the Ravens finally became the topic. The “Unhappy Raven” ESPN was referring to was Ray Rice. Obviously, no player likes to get franchised, but Rice did for unmissable reasons and voiced some of his displeasure about it. He even went on to say that if the Ravens wouldn’t have franchised him, he would be playing for a different team right now.
Sorry, I had to throw up.
If history suggests anything, it’s that Rice will be a Raven for a long time. So will Flacco. And I’d venture to say Reed will finish his career in Baltimore. One thing I’ve learned is contracts don’t happen overnight, unless your the Redskins who inexplicably paid Albert Haynesworth $100 million, while successfully ignoring more important glaring needs and solidifying themselves in the NFC East’s basement. Flacco and Rice and no. 1 and no. 1A priorities right now, with Reed coming in a close second. Regardless, I feel as if all the deals will get done — hopefully by the start of the season. And if I’m wrong, at least I’m trying to be exceptionally optimistic about the whole situation.