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Time ticking for Ravens, Tucker to make deal

Time ticking for Ravens, Tucker to make deal

With the calendar turning to July this week, the clock will really begin ticking on the Ravens and kicker Justin Tucker.

The Ravens gave Tucker the franchise tag in February, essentially signing him through the 2016 season.

They have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal or Tucker must play the 2016 season under the tag.

That would earn him a nice $4.5 million salary, but it is a one-year contract, and both he and the Ravens would do well to work out a deal that will keep Tucker in Baltimore for the foreseeable future.

There are plenty of reasons to think the deal will get done, and the best two are these: Tucker has made it clear that he wants to stay with the Ravens, and the Ravens have made clear that they'd like to keep him.

"I’m optimistic and hopeful that something will get done,” Tucker said at OTAs earlier this spring.

“As far as I’m concerned and everybody is still concerned, there’s still plenty of time to get something locked in. And that is absolutely the goal – to get something locked in.”

Tucker is the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history (87.8 percent) and has 10 game-winning field goals, including three in 2015. This past season he was 33-for-40 on field-goal attempts and made all 29 point-after kicks at the longer distance. He has never missed an extra point in his four-year career.

If past history is any indication, a deal will get done. The Ravens applied the franchise tag  to Terrell Suggs (2009), Haloti Ngata (2011) and Ray Rice (2012), and in each case they were able to work out a long-term deal before the deadline

What will that take this time? Many people look at Stephen Gostkowski's contract last season as a market setter for kickers.

Like Tucker, Gostkowski -- the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history at 87.3 percent -- was given the franchise tag by the Patriots. Then just before the deadline to play under the tag, Gostkowski signed a four-year, $17.2 million deal with $10.1 million guaranteed

Tucker's franchise tag of $4.5 million all counts toward the salary cap. A long-term deal would almost certainly lower that cap for 2016, though the Ravens recently freed up more than $6 million in cap space when left tackle Eugene Monroe was released

There hasn't been much progress in the four months since Tucker received the tag, but expect that to change; deadlines have a way of making things happen.

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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