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Drama Queen

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By: Tony Lombardi

Patrick Queen has scrubbed all affiliation to the Ravens from his Twitter and Instagram accounts. Immediately afterwards, the collective spidey senses of RavensFlock were firing. What does it mean?

Well, we’ve seen similar behaviors from Ravens players before and more times than not, GM Eric DeCosta helped accommodate their respective exodus from Baltimore. And now fans are wondering if Queen will be dealt with similarly.

From what I’ve gathered from those working the Ravens beat, Queen can be a bit dramatic. Reading the tea leaves, it’s fair to speculate, given the fifth-year option the Ravens must exercise by May 1, that there has been some discussion about an extension for Queen. And maybe there’s a cataclysmic difference between what each side thinks is a fair deal. Hence, the scrubbing.

If Queen is indeed upset, oh well. That’s the business of the NFL. The Ravens are likely to exercise the option on Queen which is expected to hit the team’s 2024 salary cap to the tune of $12.722M. If Queen props up a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder and balls out in 2023 the way he has since the arrival of Roquan Smith, it only serves to help the team during the season and then again, during the next offseason, the Ravens can either negotiate an extension or trade Queen, particularly if he has a great campaign in 2023.

When asked about Queen’s performance in 2022 and if they’ll exercise that fifth-year option, DeCosta shared this during the team’s season-ending presser:

“I’m probably not prepared to make that announcement at this point. Does it make it difficult to sign him long term? If he’s a great player, we’ll find a way to make it work. If he’s playing at a high level, we want to keep as many good players as we can. So, I would never rule out right now signing a player two years from now, potentially. He’s a good player. I think we have the best two young inside linebackers – the combo, the tandem, it’s exciting – in football. They make our defense a problem for other teams, and it’s something that is going to cause a lot of teams problems moving forward. So, I think we’re in a great position there. I think our defense is exciting, and we can’t wait to see him next year.”

Interpret that as you wish…

Lamar Saga

There’s absolutely no movement to report in the negotiations between the Ravens and Lamar Jackson. On one side of the table, owner Steve Bisciotti, to the likely delight of 30 of the other 31 owners, appears determined not to cave into the demands for a 100% guaranteed deal. On the flip-side, there’s Lamar, his mother, advisors and the big voice of the NFLPA imploring Lamar to remain equally as steadfast as Bisciotti and become the bookend to Deshaun Watson as the other highly paid, 100% guaranteed quarterback.

Who knows where it will end but if I had to bet, and I hope I’m wrong, Lamar will play under the franchise tag in 2023. And the results will look a lot like they did in 2022. If I’m right, look for him to be a no-show to OTA’s and training camp, completely wasting an opportunity to develop a rapport with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken as well as an opportunity to get acquainted with Monken’s playbook, on and off the field.

Making things worse, the exclusive franchise tag that the Ravens are likely to use on Lamar, will hang heavy on the salary cap to the tune of $45.2M. What it means is that the Ravens will have to complete some combination of contract restructures and outright releases just to be in cap compliance. Currently they sit at $26.8M under the cap. Lamar’s tag eats that up and then some.

Oh, and there will be no room to add anyone via free agency or to make a trade for a veteran receiver.

It’s the worst possible scenario – by far, but unfortunately it’s tracking that way.

The possibility of a Lamar trade exists but only if he gets the kind of deal he wants from another team. If his demands are the same as they’ve been with the Ravens and no other team wants to step up to those demands, nothing will change.

The New OC

We’ve all heard that Lamar was consulted during the Ravens search for a new offensive coordinator. Color me skeptical on that. I think that’s nothing more than eye candy to give the perception that Lamar is sticking around. Why consult with a quarterback who might not even be here?

USA Today’s Kevin Oestreicher dug deep to find this clip of Todd Monken and hopefully you will walk away as impressed as I was with Monken’s memory recall. That is the stuff that good play-callers are made of.

There’s been some chatter as to whether or not the Monken hiring will spawn other additions to the coaching staff – coaches that the former Georgia Bulldog OC brings along. That remains to be seen but of greater curiosity, is what players might give Baltimore more consideration (and vice versa) given their individual histories with Monken.

It’s no secret that the Ravens need help at wide receiver – lots of it. Consider for the moment, the return of Rashod Bateman. Further consider the addition of a Round 1 WR to the mix. And then lastly, consider the possibility of a trade for a veteran receiver or a street free agent who is a cap casualty. That WR room would change dramatically, right?

The Cardinals’ DeAndre Hopkins is reportedly on the trading block. Hopkins is a player that DeCosta inquired about when the Houston Texans were looking to deal him. The Ravens were in the mix but eventually the Cardinals offered more. Could DeCosta’s interest in Hopkins be rekindled?

And then there’s Mike Evans in Tampa, a team that is approximately $55 million over the $224.8 million salary cap. The Bucs have 23 unrestricted free agents. Before they can attempt to sign any of them, they’ll have to get out their salary cap scalpel and get to work. Among those players who might hit the operating room floor is Evans who carries a $23.7M cap figure, $13M of which is in the form of salary.

While Monken was in Tampa, Evans enjoyed his best three-year stretch in his career posting 3,846 yards and 25 touchdowns. It’s certainly something to consider if the Ravens clear up Lamar Jackson’s situation. If a trade is the way the Ravens deal with Lamar, they’ll then have to figure out who will guide Monken’s offense. It might sound pretty bizarre, but don’t completely rule out the possibility of free agent quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Monken worked with Mayfield in Cleveland and as The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec reminded us in a recent piece, the Ravens, if it comes down to it, might not be opposed to the idea:

“If there’s not a decent starting opportunity available to [Mayfield], the Ravens would represent a soft landing spot. It’s well-documented that the Ravens liked Mayfield coming out of the draft. He has a good relationship with Jackson and he’s close with tight end Mark Andrews. Ravens decision-makers have always liked and respected Mayfield. When the Ravens faced Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers in 2022, Bisciotti jogged to the Panthers’ side of the field to hug Mayfield in pregame warmups. I’m not sure I’ve seen that before with a player that hadn’t already played for the Ravens and had a previous relationship with the owner. A lot would have to happen for it to become a reality, but it does make some sense on the surface.”

Crazier things have happened. Back in the day, I never thought that Kordell Stewart would wear the Ravens colors.

“Rent Free”

Yesterday I posted a piece regarding the accusations coming out of 105.7 The Fan’s 2-6PM show, claiming that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is cheap. He’s not! Spending for the sake of spending doesn’t always add up to wins and championships and I think the facts presented in my piece support that notion.

After posting the article to our Facebook group Ravens247, a gentleman named Dan Clabaugh commented, “That man lives rent free in your head. You can’t stand him but you keep on listening.”

“That man” is Jason La Canfora.

Now in Dan’s defense, I have often criticized La Canfora. He earns it every time I tune in. And I do tune in, something that Dan indirectly questioned with his comment. I took the time to give Dan a lengthy explanation and given my track record of La Canfora criticisms on these pages, I thought I’d share the response here as well because it’s possible some of you feel the same way as Dan.

Without further ado, my response…

“I can understand why you might reach that conclusion given how regularly I criticize the show. But let me try and shed some perspective from the head that you suggest JLC occupies, “rent free”.

First, it’s my job to be connected to the pulse of fans. Ours is a publication managed by fans for fans. So we need to be dialed into local sports talk and when it comes to that, outside of podcasts, Baltimore is a one-horse town and that horse is named 105.7 The Fan.

Secondly, on a personal level, I sometimes prefer local sports talk on terrestrial radio. Such talk is in the moment. It’s live and happening now. Podcasts, even recorded the same day, are, relatively speaking, long-in-the-tooth compared to the here-and-now of local sports talk. I subscribe to Sirius XM and listen often, but when the topics on some of my favorite shows such as Schein on Sports and the line-up of shows on NFL Radio drift to topics that aren’t all that interesting, such as Trucker Joe (and I mean no disrespect) calling in from the road to talk about his Cowboys, I turn the dial to local.

Lastly, when I do tune in to The Fan, it’s usually in the afternoon when I spend more time in my car. The level of misinformation, the condescending delivery and the agenda-driven tirades coming out of that 2-6PM slot is nauseating – at least for me. And then I feel a sense of responsibility as the managing partner of RSR, to step in and attempt to fix the erroneous narrative for the benefit of our audience. I regularly receive emails and DM’s questioning what JLC spews. Some take his drivel as gospel, and coming from someone on air with a resume that includes “insider” positions on NFL Network and CBS Sports, I get it.

I have some insight as to why JLC has an axe to grind with the Ravens but I won’t share that publicly. Not now anyway, out of respect to those in the know who have shared such information with me. It’s obvious that he does carry a Mt. Everest-sized chip on his shoulder when it comes to the Ravens and one only has to pay attention to the way he treats them v. his delicate handling of the Orioles for proof.

I’m not here to carry the Ravens water. Those who have followed me for years will tell you that I criticize them fairly. Yes, I have a relationship with the team and it’s built upon mutual respect. And having earned that respect, they accept the criticisms as fair. They know what they’ve signed up for with their very public jobs and accompanying performances.

I do appreciate the time you spend here along with your feedback. I also hope you know that I’ve taken the time to submit this lengthy reply out of respect to you and other fans who may share your opinion. I hope you accept it with the good intention in which it was delivered.

Prime Sports Network

Yesterday I had the opportunity to join Greg DePalma from Prime Sports Network in a spirited conversation about the Baltimore Ravens. Among the topics discussed during the program are:

• The future of Lamar Jackson
• Potential cap casualties
• The status of John Harbaugh
• How to fix the Ravens wide receiver room
• What’s next for Joe Flacco?

Have a great weekend everyone!

The post Drama Queen appeared first on Russell Street Report.

Originally posted on Russell Street Report