Tagged in: Baltimore Ravens

Sammy Watkins agrees to one-year contract with Baltimore Ravens

Sammy Watkins agreed to a one-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, the team revealed. The team stated the contract is pending a physical.

Terms were not disclosed but sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter the deal is worth $6 million with $5 million guaranteed.

The addition of Watkins ended the Ravens’ difficult pursuit of an experienced wide receiver for quarterback Lamar Jackson and helps boost the NFL’s 32nd-ranked passing attack. Watkins’ 4,665 career receiving yards are more than double the combined career total of the Ravens’ current wide receivers (2,032).

If he can stay healthy, Watkins can team with Marquise “Hollywood” Brown as Baltimore’s starting wide receivers and complement him as a valuable underneath target for Jackson.

It has been a trying offseason for the Ravens to land a veteran wide receiver for Jackson, which further raises interrogations of whether wide receivers want to play in Baltimore’s run-first offense.

Desperately needing a wide receiver in a dwindling free-agent pool, the Ravens watched JuJu Smith-Schuster turn down a better offer to return to Pittsburgh last week and then lost out on T.Y. Hilton, who chose to go back to Indianapolis on Wednesday.

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Baltimore eventually went with Watkins, who had met with Ravens officials on Tuesday before leaving for a visit with the Colts. When Indianapolis retained Hilton, the Ravens struck a deal with Watkins.

By joining Baltimore, Watkins reunites with Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and passing-game specialist Keith Williams. In Roman’s only full season as the Buffalo Bills’ offensive coordinator, Watkins produced career highs with 1,047 yards receiving and nine touchdowns in 2015. Before being hired by the Ravens this year, Williams recently served as Watkins’ personal receivers coach in the offseason.

This marks the first time Baltimore has signed a wide receiver this early in free agency since the Ravens added Michael Crabtree in 2018. The most significant free-agent wide receiver signings by the Ravens in the past two years were Seth Roberts and Dez Bryant.

One of the bigger surprises of the Ravens’ offseason was Baltimore not signing a wide receiver immediately when it was among the team’s top needs.

The Ravens’ wide receivers have ranked last in each of the past two campaigns in catches and receiving yards, and this group ranked among the youngest in the league because their two most experienced targets (Bryant and Willie Snead IV) are free agents.

Before bringing in Watkins, the Ravens’ top four wide receivers on their roster — Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and James Proche II — were all drafted in the past two years, and none are over the age of 24.

The signing of Watkins won’t preclude the Ravens from drafting a wide receiver, but it should decrease the necessity to select one in the first round. Watkins is only the Ravens’ second free agent signed from another team this offseason.

Earlier this month, Baltimore signed guard Kevin Zeitler to a three-year, $22.5 million contract.

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Dez Bryant plans to play two more years, but it won’t be with Ravens after his six-game stint in Baltimore

Dez Bryant wants to play two more seasons, but it apparently won’t be with the Baltimore Ravens.

In a series of tweets Tuesday night, the wide receiver explained why he never broke out of a limited role with the Ravens last season.

“I realized quick Baltimore wasn’t the place for me,” Bryant wrote. “No bad blood. That’s their way of doing things so you gotta respect it.”

Bryant, 32, returned after sitting out two campaigns and totaled six catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns in six matches with Baltimore.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection during his time with the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant lacked explosiveness with Baltimore and never got consistently open.

He ended as the No. 4 wide receiver for the league’s worst passing attack, ranking below Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and Willie Snead IV on the depth chart. Bryant managed a total of 129 snaps, or 21.5 per game.

Responding to a fan’s comment that he should’ve been given a better opportunity, Bryant wrote: “It’s hard. I’ve been off almost three years. I flashed my abilities to the point [Ravens coach John] Harbaugh asked was I ready to play because he thought I was ready …You have to learn the playbook … chemistry with the QB have to be on point.”

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Asked if his chemistry was off with quarterback Lamar Jackson, Bryant wrote: “Our chemistry was good on and off the field. But it was guys there before me who understood the offensive concepts better than me. You can’t jeopardize that.”

Bryant became the second Pro Bowl wide receiver to miss two full seasons and return to the NFL since the 1970 merger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Josh Gordon was the first.

The Ravens first worked out Bryant in August, but he left without a contract because he was told to improve his conditioning.

Baltimore brought him back and signed him to the practice squad on Oct. 28.

After being elevated off the practice squad twice, Bryant was signed to the 53-man roster on Nov. 28. He never eclipsed more than 28 yards receiving in a game and was held without a catch in the Ravens’ two playoff games.

“I wasn’t bothered about playing time,” Bryant wrote. “I enjoyed myself. I met some great teammates, guys I feel like I will be keeping in contact for a long time. I’m thankful for the opportunity Baltimore gave me.”

The Ravens weren’t expected to bring back Bryant. Upgrading the wide receiver group in free agency and the draft was considered one of Baltimore’s priorities.

Bryant, the No. 24 overall pick of the 2010 draft, played eight campaigns for the Cowboys. In 113 games, he caught 531 passes for 7,459 yards and a Cowboys-record 73 touchdown catches before his release after the 2017 season. When asked if he plans to play in 2021, Bryant wrote: “I plan on playing two more years and that’s it for me.”

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Ravens sign veteran CB Tramon Williams

The Ravens have added a veteran cornerback to fortify a position hit hard by injuries. Tramon Williams, who has spent most of his career with the Green Bay Packers, has been signed to the 53-man roster.

Williams substitutes cornerback Khalil Dorsey (shoulder), who has been placed on injured reserve.

The 37-year-old Williams has 34 career interceptions, but has not played this campaign after his second stint with the Packers ended in 2019. An undrafted free agent in 2006 from Louisiana Tech, Williams had his best years with the Packers, where he played from 2006-14 and acquired a Super Bowl in 2010.

In his second stint with Green Bay that started in 2018, Williams started 23 games, including seven games last season. Though he has primarily been a cornerback, Williams also played some safety for the Packers last season.

Williams has also played for the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals.

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Williams will add depth to the cornerback rotation that includes Pro Bowlers Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, veteran Jimmy Smith and second-year pro Terrell Bonds. Humphrey (COVID-19) is expected to return this week after missing Sunday’s game versus the Indianapolis Colts.

Dorsey, who dislocated his shoulder during Sunday’s game in Indianapolis, joins a lengthy list of injured cornerbacks from Baltimore. Tavon Young and Iman Marshall are out for the season with knee injuries and Anthony Averett (shoulder) is on injured reserve, though he could return later this year.

Dorsey will be out at least the next three matches. The Ravens have also signed two players to the practice squad – defensive back Nate Brooks and offensive tackle R.J. Prince. Prince was on the Ravens’ practice squad last season and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brooks was an undrafted free agent from North Texas in 2019 who has been with the Cardinals, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.

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Minnesota Vikings’ Danielle Hunter to have season ending neck surgery

The Vikings will forge through the remainder of the campaign without their top two pass-rushers, one of whom has not seen the field in 2020.

Hours after Minnesota traded Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens, recouping much of the draft capital they sent to Jacksonville when they acquired the defensive end in August, a league source confirmed to ESPN that Danielle Hunter will undergo season-ending neck surgery to repair a herniated disc.

Hunter’s injury was initially described as a “tweak” by coach Mike Zimmer and was expected to keep him out six to eight weeks, according to a source. The defensive end’s last practice was Aug. 14, the Vikings’ first day of practice during training camp.

Hunter, who had 54.5 sacks through five seasons and back-to-back Pro Bowl honors, agreed to an extension in 2018 and is set to be under contract for the next three seasons. In spite of his production, becoming the fastest player ever to reach 50.0 sacks, Hunter is the 18th-highest-paid defensive end with an average salary of $14.4 million per year.

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It was widely expected that the Vikings would have to restructure Hunter’s contract in the upcoming offseason to better reflect his value. But with the salary cap expected to drop considerably in 2021, Minnesota will soon need to resolve whether they can make Hunter the league’s highest-paid defensive end with a deal north of the $27 million per year paid to Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa, or potentially entertain offers for a trade.

The Vikings have not publicly acknowledged Hunter’s season-ending surgery. Weeks ago, the defensive end traveled to New York to get a second opinion on his neck injury.  Zimmer had said that the visit did not reveal any further clarity about his condition.

“[He’s] still kind of mulling his options, I think,” Zimmer said on Oct. 14.

Earlier Thursday, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman discussed the team’s decision to trade Ngakoue to the Ravens and whether he thought back in August that Minnesota would be able to field both pass-rushers this season, in spite of Hunter’s injury.

“I would say it was more — because we didn’t know where Danielle was at the time — what you envision sometimes unfortunately doesn’t always come true,” Spielman said.

“To have a Yannick and Danielle coming off the edges, to have an Anthony Barr and the way Zim has schematically used him to create pressure on the quarterback so he’s one-on-one with running backs, that’s how we envisioned it. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out like that. You try to readjust with some of the top playmakers you don’t have, especially on the defensive side. That’s what the coaches are doing right now.”

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Ravens’ Lamar Jackson working out with Antonio Brown

Last year, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson drew attention for his offseason work with teammates Willie Snead IV and Chris Moore.

On Wednesday, his company was a little more famous.

In an afternoon session in Fort Lauderdale, Florida — county seat of his native Broward County — the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player worked out alongside Ravens wide receiver and close pal Marquise “Hollywood” Brown; Alabama wide receiver and future first-round pick Jerry Jeudy, another Broward County native; and, most notably, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, a cousin of the Ravens’ Brown.

Responding to a tweet Wednesday showing Antonio Brown catching passes from Jackson, the Ravens star tagged the six-time All-Pro wide receiver and stated that they would do it again.

Brown, 31, a free agent, missed most of last campaign after two ugly departures.

The Oakland Raiders, who voided the guaranteed money in his contract after Brown missed nearly all of training camp, cut him in early September when he requested to be released.

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After quickly signing with the New England Patriots, Brown was named in a lawsuit by his former trainer, who alleged that he had sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions. Less than a week later, another woman accused him of sexual misconduct.

The Patriots cut Brown after just one game, and the NFL started an investigation into the allegations against him.

Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, Brown and Jackson have been active this week. On Tuesday, Brown appeared in social media posts alongside former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson and Antonio Brown at his cousin’s Florida gym. On Wednesday, both Brown cousins and Jackson worked out on a football field in what Jeudy told “The Rich Eisen Show” was Fort Lauderdale.

It could be their last public workout for a while. On Wednesday afternoon, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. The order will go into effect at midnight Thursday and last for at least 30 days.

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Ravens set record for rushing yards in season

The Ravens ran their way into the record book Sunday.

Baltimore set the NFL single 16-game-season team rushing record, breaking a mark that had stood for 41 years. The 1978 New England Patriots rushed for 3,165 yards, during an era when running the football was much more prevalent.

Baltimore needed 93 yards Sunday to set the record, and players and coaches entered the match aware that the mark was within reach.

Running back Gus Edwards set the tone, exploding for a 38-yard run late in the first quarter, and Baltimore ended the first quarter with 89 yards rushing, just four yards short of the record. Then early in the second quarter, Edwards broke the record on a 9-yard rumble up the middle.

In today’s NFL, a team rushing for over 3,000 yards in a season is unheard of Nobody had come close to the Patriots’ record in the years since.

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Baltimore’s rushing attack and the innovative schemes used by Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman are also unique.

The Ravens had two players who rushed for over 1,000 yards, Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram II. Jackson set the NFL single-season rushing record for a quarterback (1,206 yards), running behind an offensive line that featured two Pro Bowlers in left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda.

The Ravens also have a Pro Bowl fullback (Patrick Ricard) and one of the league’s best blocking tight ends in Nick Boyle.

Jackson, Ingram, Stanley and Yanda were all inactive versus the Steelers on Sunday, but Baltimore’s rushing attack kept rolling. Sunday was the latest example of why Baltimore’s rushing attack is one for the ages, and the best in the NFL by a wide margin.

The Ravens entered Sunday’s match averaging 204.9 yards rushing, more than 59 yards ahead of the next best team, the San Francisco 49ers.

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Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

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When: 8:25 p.m. ET
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Point spread: Ravens favored by 3 points
Over/under: 44 point

The Pittsburgh Steelers stand to bury the Baltimore Ravens in a seemingly insurmountable 0-4 hole when the AFC North foes meet on “Thursday Night Football” at Heinz Field.

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens in a primetime matchup of AFC North rivals Thursday night that could have a huge impact on the early-season division race. A fourth straight loss for the winless Ravens would all but eliminate them from contention. A loss by a depleted Steelers team would leave three of the four clubs with at least two losses and create significant separation in the standings for the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.

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The Ravens are in uncharted territory entering Week 4. This is the first time in franchise history they’ve started 0-3, and they are on the verge of their first four-game losing streak since 2007. They are now staring at the near-impossible task of trying to make the playoffs after losing their first three games of the season. Just three teams have done that in the past 25 years, and none since the 1998 Bills.

The Ravens are currently seventh in the NFL with 84.0 rushing yards allowed per game, and fourth at 3.4 yards let up per attempt, with linebackers Daryl Smith, Courtney Upshaw, and CJ Mosley leading the way, and rookie Za’Darius Smith also seeing the field. But Baltimore will miss starting defensive end Chris Canty (calf) for the second straight game.

The Steelers are 2-1, but they also face a tough task in trying to reach the postseason without franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. Mike Vick takes over as the starting quarterback, and although he won’t be able to match Big Ben’s gaudy passing stats, he’s a seasoned veteran who should be capable of taking advantage of the incredible talent around him on offense.

Unlike wounded Baltimore, the Steelers defense has exceeded expectations. Pittsburgh’s allowing 17.3 points per game and the pass rush is tied for fifth in the league with 9.0 sacks. Second-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt and rookie linebacker Bud Dupree are responsible for 2.5.

But Pittsburgh could be stretched too thin up front this week. Defensive tackle Daniel McCullers (knee) and second-year linebacker Ryan Shazier (shoulder) have both been ruled out against the Ravens, while cornerback Cortez Allen (knee) is listed as questionable and could miss his third straight game.

However, the Steelers haven’t really missed Allen. Corners Antwon Blake and Ross Cockrell have filled in well for Allen, with the former leading Pittsburgh with two passes defensed.

 

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