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Brown: Ravens have talent gap to close in offseason


Brown: Ravens have talent gap to close in offseason

While the Ravens cleaned out their lockers Monday, the Bengals and Steelers were getting ready for the playoffs.

In the long run, it might be good that the bottom fell out for the Ravens (5-11) this season, because it should force the organization to face reality. The Ravens need to close the talent gap between themselves and the top two teams in the AFC North.

“We’re going to have to look at what we have when this offseason settles down and where we may need a guy or two,” said quarterback Joe Flacco on Monday. “We need to improve, there’s no doubt about it.”

The Bengals have won two straight division titles. They have beaten the Ravens five straight times. They have young playmakers like A. J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill, and Gionvani Bernard. They have an excellent defense which allowed the fewest points in the NFL this season. Even if they keep stumbling in the playoffs, the Bengals figure to be good for some time.

The Steelers have made the playoffs the last two years, and have one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger. As long as Roethlisberger is their quarterback, the Steelers figure to remain Super Bowl contenders. Even with star running back Le’Veon Bell missing most of the season, Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown led a potent attack that topped the AFC in total offense. We know the Ravens swept the Steelers this year, but the Ravens would gladly change places with the Steelers now.

Is it realistic to think the Ravens can get back in the playoffs next year? Yes. They have quality at the three most important spots – general manager Ozzie Newsome, head coach John Harbaugh, and Flacco at quarterback. While that trio isn’t perfect, they are winners, and they have Super Bowl rings to prove it.

Newsome needs to have his best offseason in some time. At the very least, he needs to hit in the draft’s early rounds, and find impact players who can help the Ravens win as rookies. The Ravens weren’t going to the Super Bowl this season, even before the injuries became overwhelming. They need more team speed – playmakers on offense who can strike quickly, and playmakers on defense that can force turnovers and make quarterbacks uncomfortable.

Newsome thought he had his speed wide receiver in rookie Breshad Perriman, but Perriman never played a snap due to his knee injury. Now Newsome needs to find more speed at that position through the draft or free agency, because counting on Perriman alone to bring that element is just too dangerous.

It will be interesting to hear owner Steve Bisciotti’s take when he addresses the media Thursday. But the Ravens can’t expect the Bengals or Steelers to fall back to them in the division. To bounce back in 2016, the Ravens need fewer injuries. But they also need more talent.

RELATED: 4 main points from Flacco's 2015 media exit interview

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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

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Ravens' Eric DCosta not ruling out taking a quarterback at No. 16

And with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select.... a quarterback?

Assistant general manager, and soon to be general manager, Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility that the Ravens use their first-round pick on drafting a quarterback to eventually replace Joe Flacco. 

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of draft a quarterback in the first-round. 

Quarterback is just one of many offensive needs for the team. Joe Flacco's stats have been trending downward as the 33-year old is entering his 11th season.


Owner Steve Bisciotti though may disagree with DeCosta.

At his annual State of the Ravens press conference, Bisciotti said, "That’s not really something that we’re worried about right now. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, I guess. I don’t consider that a big worry," in regards to looking at life after Joe. Bisciotti also noted the team would be looking at all options in free agency and the draft for weapons for their QB.

From the sound of that, it appears the team's first choice would be a wideout, but the Ravens haven't drafted a quarterback since Joe Flacco back in 2008. 

The 2018 NFL Draft class has a handful of strong quarterbacks to choose from and not a ton of first-round wide receivers. 

Former Ravens scout, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has predicted the team with take Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield in the first-round. 

"It basically depends on our evaluation and how we feel about the guy, what we think he can become as a player and what we think his upside is and if he's there," DeCosta said

Backup Ryan Mallet is a free agent so the organization will have to find someone to fill the role, whether it's someone on a one year-deal, or the future QB of the franchise. 


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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Michael Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed wide receiver Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Schefter.

After being released by the Raiders on Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.