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What they're saying about the Ravens
Here's a look at recent media coverage of the Ravens:
• A team source told The Baltimore Sun today that the Ravens aren't expected to pursue Terrell Owens. ESPN.com writer James Walker thinks the recently released Dallas Cowboys wide receiver would actually be a good fit in Baltimore.
Call me crazy, but the positives outweigh the negatives. For the short term and the right price, I'm all for Owens joining the AFC North and playing football for the Ravens in 2009.
T.O. doesn't fit on most NFL teams, but he fits in Baltimore thanks to the "Ray Ray factor."
• ESPN.com contributor Matt Williamson doesn't see T.O.-to-Baltimore happening, but he does think that of all the AFC North teams, the Ravens are the best fit for Owens.
Of the four teams in the division, Baltimore is the one that makes the most sense. A few years back, it looked as if Owens was headed to the Ravens, but there is a different head coach in the fold now and this was a very successful team last season without incorporating someone like Owens. Also, it could be argued that Owens' demand for the ball and antics could stunt the growth of young quarterback Joe Flacco. Baltimore does need another pass catcher, preferably one with the size and physicality that Owens offers, but after signing Matt Birk and re-signing Ray Lewis, money has to be tight. Overextending themselves for a malcontent like Owens would be bad business. Don't expect Ozzie Newsome to bite.
• Williamson said linebacker Ray Lewis' decision to re-sign with the Ravens is good for both parties.
Former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan will certainly be missed in Baltimore as few are in his class at that job. However, securing a coach on the field like Lewis was extremely important and should go a long way to make that transition smoother. This was certainly the best move for team and player and it wouldn't be a surprise if Baltimore's defense is just as good next year as it was in 2008.
• ESPN's Walker thinks signing Lewis will keep the Ravens in contention next season.
Allowing their emotional leader and 10-time Pro Bowler to leave for another team would have capped a disastrous first-week of free agency that included the loss of starting linebacker Bart Scott, safety Jim Leonhard and center Jason Brown. The Ravens also released former Pro Bowl cornerback Chris McAlister, and former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan took a head coaching job with the New York Jets.
By keeping Lewis, along with the solid, but not sexy, signings of veteran center Matt Birk and speedy cornerback Domonique Foxworth, suddenly Baltimore's run in free agency doesn't look so bad.
• The Ravens' signing of wide receiver Derrick Mason to a 5-year deal for $20 million in 2005 was rated by ESPN.com as the AFC North's second-best free-agent signing of the past seven years.
Considering the production and the position, Mason continues to be a tremendous bargain for the Ravens. He joined the team four years ago and has three 1,000-yard seasons and a total of 337 receptions in that span. In 2008, Mason led Baltimore with 80 receptions for 1,037 yards as he helped rookie quarterback Joe Flacco emerge on the scene. Mason is entering the final year of his contract and still going strong at age 34.
• CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco isn't impressed with the Ravens' signing of former Vikings center Matt Birk.
With the loss of Jason Brown, the word was the Ravens were planning on moving right guard Chris Chester to center. I would have made that move instead of signing Birk. I think Birk struggles to move people off the ball, and the way the Ravens want to run the ball he will be a liability.
• Prisco writes about the importance of Ray Lewis staying in Baltimore.
Now Lewis will be revered in Baltimore the rest of his life.
It's Johnny U, Cal Ripken and Ray Lewis.
• Prisco says former Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister is one of the best remaining free agents on the market.
He is getting up in years and he is coming off a season cut short by injury, but if he has something left, he's worth a look.
McAlister isn't a No. 1 corner anymore, but can be a good second. If he's asking for a lot of money, he should forget it. Just get with a team and earn some of it in incentives.
• Greg Cosell of the Sporting News breaks down Ray Lewis' 2008 season in Baltimore.
It was evident watching the Ravens this past season that no concessions were made to Lewis, no weaknesses camouflaged. And that is the best barometer by which to judge his overall performance. A defense is only as strong as its weakest link. That player must be somehow concealed within the overall defensive scheme so that the opposing offense does not easily exploit him. The coaching staff did not have to compromise, or scale back to compensate for any deterioration in Lewis' game. The reason was there on film: Lewis had not regressed at all.
• With the No. 26 overall pick in April's NFL draft, SI.com's Don Banks projects the Ravens to select Utah cornerback Sean Smith.
I'm just playing a hunch here, but the Ravens are in the market for a cornerback to take over Chris McAlister's vacated slot, and Baltimore has always liked its pass defenders to have some size. Smith is taller than the likes of Vanderbilt's D.J. Moore, Connecticut's Darius Butler and Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith, so I'm going with him for now.
• Scout.com's latest mock draft has the Ravens taking Southern Cal linebacker Clay Matthews.
The Ravens are a defensive team and they will always add talent to that side of the ball. Matthews has great upside and is a demon on special teams.
• The National Football Post projects the Ravens to take Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis. This mock draft was posted Monday, before the Lewis agreement was announced.
With the Ravens losing ILB Bart Scott to free agency and the loss of Ray Lewis still a possibility, Baltimore may be praying that a talent like Laurinaitis falls to them on draft day. Laurinaitis is an instinctive defender who should be able to make an instant impact in the Ravens' 3-4 defense.
• NFL.com's Pat Kirwan has the Ravens taking Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.
The Ravens resolved their cornerback issue by signing Domonique Foxworth, so now they can turn their attention to the wide receiver position. Heyward-Bey was the fastest player at the combine and Joe Flacco has the arm to get the ball to him.
• In a mock draft written before the Ravens signed Matt Birk, NFL.com's Steve Wyche predicted the Ravens would select Oregon center Max Unger.
Ravens could go wide receiver here with Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, but they need some interior grit after the free-agent departure of Jason Brown and Unger can bring it.
[Compiled by Matt Bracken and Brett Lake]