Baltimore Ravens: Buying or Selling Latest Buzz on the Free Agency Rumor Mill
The legal tampering period of NFL free agency is a league insider’s dream, with plenty of rumors to report about where free agents will land. You won’t come across a ton of Baltimore Ravens rumors since general manager Ozzie Newsome is usually pretty quiet and calm, but there is still plenty of information to sift through.
What’s the latest on Eugene Monroe’s contract discussions? Do the Ravens stand a chance of re-signing Arthur Jones? There are rumors regarding both of those questions and more, and this is an attempt to determine which rumors you should believe and which rumors won’t come to fruition.
Arthur Jones Unlikely to Return to Baltimore
This one was expected, so it’s not a surprising rumor to hear. Arthur Jones had a tremendous year, and was rated as the 12th-best 3-4 defensive end in the league by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
With the stoutness to stand strong against the run and the quickness to cause some problems as a pass-rusher, Jones was figured to be a coveted free agent on the open market.
According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, that has definitely been the case as Jones has been courted by the Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings.
With so many pressing needs on the offensive side of the ball, it’s unlikely that the Ravens will be able to compete with the large offers he’s sure to get from other clubs. Jones himself seems very aware of this fact, based on his Twitter activity:
It's Friday.It's crazy to think this maybe my very last happy purple Friday wishes. Hopefully not. But as we all know business is business.— Arthur Jones (@Artj97) March 7, 2014
Champ Bailey Will Be the Next Free Safety
There have been rumors swirling (mostly created by the fanbase) that the Ravens will be making a run at convincing Champ Bailey to make the switch to safety in Baltimore. It’s an intriguing idea.
Bailey certainly has the experience and intelligence after being the league’s best cornerback over the past decade.
But at some point, you have to let go of the name recognition and look at what you’ll get on the field—if he even gets on the field.
Bailey only played 193 snaps in 2013 due to injury, and he will be 36 by the time the next season rolls around. If you sign Bailey, you’re taking a fairly sizable risk given his health (or lack thereof). Moreover, there’s no guarantee that Bailey will be able to regain the form from his glory days or make the switch to free safety.
All in all, there are just too many questions surrounding Bailey’s status and the Ravens will stay away.
Miami Dolphins Favor Branden Albert over Eugene Monroe
The Miami Dolphins poached a Ravens free agent last year when they signed Dannell Ellerbe to a lucrative deal. The fear in Baltimore was that history would repeat itself with regards to left tackle Eugene Monroe.
Miami’s offensive line was horrendous—both on the field and off it—so the Dolphins are sure to spend a large chunk of their $34 million in cap space (per OverTheCap) on a franchise left tackle. Given that Monroe is one of the best young tackles on the market, it seemed like the Ravens wouldn’t be able to compete with Miami’s offer if Monroe was their target.
Fortunately for Baltimore, the Dolphins apparently have eyes for another blind-side bodyguard: Branden Albert of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that “[Albert is] very, very high on Miami’s wish list” and cited another source claiming that the Dolphins are “the clear front-runner for Albert.”
Jackson wasn’t the only one to report that news, however, as you can judge from the above video featuring Bleacher Report’s own Chris Simms.
That wasn’t the end of the story either. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reports that “per a league source, all signs currently point to Albert signing with the Dolphins not long after the market officially opens on Tuesday.”
Given the sheer volume of the noise surrounding this signing, it seems fairly certain that this is a done deal.
Eugene Monroe Will No Longer Be a Raven
There have been a number of reports that Eugene Monroe is unlikely to stay in Baltimore. Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County Times broke down the numbers, conveying the numbers at the negotiating table, saying, "According to a source, Monroe wants a long-term contract worth around $10 million annually. Baltimore wants Monroe for closer to $8 million or $9 million annually."
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport (via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com) confirmed that impasse in contract talks, reporting that no progress has been made on signing Monroe to a long-term deal.
In a vacuum, this buzz would certainly mean that Monroe wouldn’t be re-signed, but the previous rumor—and news of the offensive tackle market around the league—means that Monroe may have a hard time finding any team willing to pay him the $10 million salary he’s looking for.
Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun reveals where all the tackles will be when the dust settles:
Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Branden Albert is expected to sign with the Miami Dolphins for an average of $9.5 million annually.
Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Jared Veldheer is expected to sign with the Arizona Cardinals for between $7 million and $7.5 million.
Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Anthony Collins is expected to sign with the Buccaneers for between $6.5 million to $7 million provided that he doesn't re-sign with the Bengals.
With all of the tackle-needy teams finding a partner on the market, Monroe’s market will be a lot softer than he was expecting.
If that’s the case, he’ll end up in Baltimore—if only because there’s nowhere else to go.