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Ravens sign ... a math whiz?


Ravens sign ... a math whiz?

The Ravens announced their most unusual free agent signing of the offseason Monday a math whiz from Yale.

The team hired Sandy Weil as Director of Football Analytics, a new front-office job in which Weil will put advanced principles to work examining everything from the odds of going for it on fourth down to the traits needed for a prospect to succeed.

Were always looking for confirmation on things we think we know and insights that could provide an edge for us in personnel and coaching. This is where Sandy will help us, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said in a statement.

Is this Moneyball come to Baltimore? Well, yes, according to Weil in an interview with the teams website.

"Theres no longer complete skepticism around the approach, Weil said of the idea of using mathematics in sports. "The Oakland As took that hit. Billy Beane and the people he worked with kind of took that hit and made it OK to hire guys who know how to work with numbers. That stigma is gone.

This is Weils first job in the NFL. His sports-related background is in pro basketball. Weil worked as a statistical consultant and data structure designer for the NBA and consulted with the San Antonio Spurs.

He comes to the Ravens from a non-sports job with Ascend Analytics in Boulder, Colo., where he was a senior energy analyst and product manager. Before that, he also worked for the investment bank Bear Stearns on its derivatives trading desk.

The Ravens will put him to work on a wide variety of aspects of pro football, seeing if they can uncover some secrets.

"Its not just doing the analysis and spitting out some number, Weil said. "Its knowing the limitations of the analysis and presenting them in a way that people making decisions can make use of that information. They can incorporate into the way that theyre doing things, and thats really where my job is to fit in.

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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.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?