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Ravens roster preview: Are the safeties' jobs safe?


Ravens roster preview: Are the safeties' jobs safe?

It's clear that coming off a 5-11 season, the Ravens have some tough decisions to make regarding their 2016 roster. To be sure, injuries were a huge part of the story this past season, but there figures to be significant roster turnover after one of the worst seasons in team history. And as always, the salary cap will have a major influence on how the Ravens go about constructing their 2016 roster.

Over the past two weeks, we have been examining each Ravens position group with an eye toward 2016. Who stays? Who goes? Today we look at the safeties.

Note: For the purpose of this discussion, we will limit the roster to those players on the final 53-man roster and injured reserve. (Here is more on free agency terminology).

Under contract: Terrence Brooks, Matt Elam, Will Hill, Anthony Levine, Kendrick Lewis

Unrestricted free agents: None

Restricted free agents: Brynden Trawick

Exclusive rights free agents: Jermaine Whitehead

The Ravens safety group in theory returns both starters in Will Hill and Kendrick Lewis, but the big wild card here is Lardarius Webb.

It's already been noted elsewhere that Webb's future is at safety, but that is complicated by his $10 million cap figure.  Assuming Webb is back in 2016 -- and it won't be for a $10 million cap hit, you can bet on that -- is Webb a starter? And if so, who isn't?

Kendrick Lewis was disappointing in his first year with the Ravens, showing some physical ability as a tackler (60 tackles) but little ball awareness. He had no interceptions (and dropped a gift would-be interception that would have essentially won the Jaguars game) and some horrid pass interference penalties.

Lewis' uneven play was made tougher to deal with after watching the guy he replaced -- Darian Stewart -- perform so well with the Broncos. Still, Lewis comes fairly cheap, with a cap figure of about $1.8 million.

Will Hill (64 tackles, 1 interception) was more consistent than Lewis, but it was troubling that the Ravens starting safety duo totaled one interception. Hill also has a cap figure of more than $4.5 million, so there's been some discussion of him as a potential cap casualty, but his return as a starter seems likely.

Then there's Matt Elam, who has yet to produce at the first-round level the Ravens drafted him. After being publicly called out by general manager Ozzie Newsome -- "Matt Elam has to be a better football player for us next year", Newsome said at the 2015 "State of the Ravens" news conference -- Elam was drawing rave reviews from the coaching staff last summer before a biceps injury ended his season before it began.

At the point, the Ravens can't honestly count on Elam, but if he can return healthy, he makes this group deeper. Ditto for Terrance Brooks, who has also shown flashes but has never been consistent enough to earn a lot of playing time.

Anthony Levine and Brynden Trawick have been key special teams players and could be back in those roles again. Trawick might be nontendered as a restricted free agent, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Ravens bring him back on a modest deal.

Overall, on paper this looks like a veteran safety group that could thrive under new secondary coach Leslie Frazier. But the Lardarius Webb question looms large, and the Ravens need to get more from Lewis -- and Elam and Brooks -- for this group to reach its potential.


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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.