Tagged in: baltimore

Baltimore Ravens sign K Justin Tucker to four-year NFL extension

Justin Tucker signed a four-year extension with the Baltimore Ravens, the team revealed Monday, with a source saying it’s worth $24 million and continues to make Tucker the NFL’s highest-paid kicker.

Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, will earn an average of $6 million per season, the source said, which is $1 million more per season than any other kicker. Tucker’s new deal comes a week after Chris Boswell signed an extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers that had matched Tucker for being the league’s highest-paid kicker at $5 million per season.

Tucker, who had two years left on his current deal, is now signed through 2027 and will receive signing and option bonuses that total $11.5 million, according to the source. The extension also includes $17.5 million guaranteed, the source said, which is $5 million more than any other kicker.

After Monday’s practice, Tucker stated being the league’s highest-paid kicker was not at the top of his priority list but “it certainly has a nice ring to it.”

“Listen, this deal, for sure, checks all the boxes for me,” Tucker said. “And for all intents and purposes, this is the type of deal that will more than ensure that I will be a Raven for life. And for that alone, I couldn’t be happier.”

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Tucker acknowledged that the deal came together quickly.

At a recent practice, he joked with coach John Harbaugh that a deal could get done in five minutes.

“And sure enough, it took about five minutes,” Tucker said. “There’s the saying in business that [with] a good deal, maybe neither side gets exactly what they want and neither side is happy, so it’s a good deal. But in this case, I believe everybody is super stoked, and I think that makes a great deal.”

Tucker, 32, has become one of the NFL’s all-time best kickers in his 10 seasons. Undrafted out of Texas, Tucker currently has the best field goal percentage in NFL history (91%) as well as the league’s record for the longest field goal (66 yards).

He has been named to the All-Pro first team five times, which is two more than any other kicker. Since entering the league in 2012, he ranks first in the NFL in field goals made (326) and points (1,360).

Known for being clutch, Tucker is 16-of-16 on field goals in the final minute of regulation and has converted 58 consecutive fourth-quarter/overtime tries, marking the NFL’s longest active streak. Last season, his record-setting, 66-yard field goal beat the Detroit Lions as time expired in regulation.

Harbaugh said Tucker is more than the game’s best kicker. He is also a great leader.

“Being out here with the mindset that he takes to it in terms of his work ethic, also his sense of humor, his understanding of the moment,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’re happy to have him back.”

In other news Monday, starting running back J.K. Dobbins was activated off the physically unable to perform list and practiced for the first time since tearing the ACL in his left knee on Aug. 28, 2021.

He was limited to individual drills and looked like he was laboring at times. When Baltimore held team drills, Dobbins worked off to the side. “I thought he looked pretty good in individual [drills],” Harbaugh said.

“Maybe we add a little more each day and see how he handles it and how the knee responds. It seems like, so far, so good.”

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New York Mets star Pete Alonso, back in Home Run Derby, ‘super excited’ to swing for a third title

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso will participate in the Home Run Derby next week in Los Angeles.

Major League Baseball made the announcement Monday on its official Twitter page, confirming the return of one of the Derby’s most successful hitters.

“It’s a really fun event,” Alonso told reporters in the Mets clubhouse Monday before their game against the Braves in Atlanta. “It’s going to be super exciting, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Also before the game, the Braves announced that star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. will participate in the Derby. Last year, in Denver, Alonso outlasted Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini to become the third back-to-back Home Run Derby champion.

Alonso recorded 74 home runs — totaling 6.35 miles in distance — en route to the crown.

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“I think I’m the best power hitter on the planet,” Alonso said after the win last year. “Being able to showcase that, and really putting on a fun display for fans, I just think it’s a dream come true for me because when I was young, my parents let me stay up past my bedtime to watch this. That was one of the few nights per year I actually got to stay up past my bedtime, just watch incredible feats that you don’t see in a regular baseball game.”

And now Dodger Stadium will be his stage next Monday, as he takes a break from a regular season that has New York fans thinking about a postseason run. The Mets entered play on Monday with a 53-33 record and a first-place standing in the National League East.

Alonso leads the team with 23 home runs to go along with a .273 batting average and 70 RBIs.

Last year — with New York bench coach Dave Jauss pitching to him — Alonso wowed the crowd at Coors Field with a final-round total of 23, in joining Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013-14) in winning successive titles.

“This is just surreal,” Alonso said at the time. “It’s just truly a blessing.”

Alonso confirmed Monday that Jauss will again be his pitcher next week. “Just need to give him about two pots of coffee for before and a case of Bud Light for after, and he said he’s good to go,” Alonso said.

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Justin Houston, Baltimore Ravens agree to one-year deal

Justin Houston and the Baltimore Ravens have reached an agreement on a one-year deal for the four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker to return to the club, it was announced Thursday.

The Ravens tendered Houston after the draft — much as the Kansas City Chiefs did with Melvin Ingram — to try to ensure his return to Baltimore.

In his first campaign with the Ravens, Houston led the team with 17 quarterback hits but was credited with only 4.5 sacks, his fewest ever for a full season and the second consecutive season in which his sack production has decreased.

Houston, who turned 33 in January, became the 39th player in NFL history to reach 100 career sacks. His 102 sacks is tied for the fourth most in the league since he entered the NFL in 2011.

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His return helps to address the thinnest position on the Ravens defense.

There’s doubt whether starting outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, who tore an Achilles in the season finale, will be ready for the start of the regular season. Outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson died on June 21 from the combined effects of fentanyl and cocaine.

Before the Ravens brought back Houston, the other remaining experienced outside linebackers — Odafe Oweh, Steven Means and Vince Biegel — have combined for 13.5 career sacks.

Houston has made an impact in Baltimore as a leader, repeatedly staying after practice to help the Ravens’ young pass-rushers on moves. He was nicknamed “Yoda” by Oweh, a rookie first-round pick.

A 2011 third-round pick by the Chiefs, Houston has totaled 484 tackles, 165 quarterback hits, 18 forced fumbles, 17 fumble recoveries and 4 interceptions in 11 seasons for the Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Ravens.

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Lamar Jackson’s return to Baltimore Ravens practice ‘boosts everybody’s spirits’

Lamar Jackson made an impressive return to the Baltimore Ravens, receiving positive reviews after his first practice of the offseason.

Jackson looked comfortable and had good velocity on his throws, and teammates expressed excitement over seeing him on the field for the first time in six months.

“I think everybody knows that Lamar, he’s what drives our team,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said Tuesday. “The energy around him being here lifts everybody up.”

Jackson, who is scheduled to talk to reporters Thursday, skipped all three weeks of the voluntary workouts before reporting Monday. He hasn’t given a reason for his absence.

The last time Jackson was on the field with Baltimore was Dec. 29, when he tried to practice with a pronounced limp. He missed the final four games with a right ankle injury, as Baltimore failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

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On Tuesday, it seemed like old times with Jackson. He moved around well, threw his usual sidearm passes and connected frequently with Andrews, including on a 30-yard pass while on the run. Teammates noticed Jackson’s passes were tight spirals and had some extra zip on them.

“He’s physically in very good shape. I thought his arm looked really good,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “You can see he’s been throwing a lot. You can see he’s in great physical condition. It’s great to have him out there. He kind of boosted everybody’s spirits, too.”

Jackson appeared comfortable on the field despite not attending the nine previous practices.

There was only one instance where the team had to huddle again because there was confusion about a play.

But what upset Jackson the most was throwing two interceptions to safety Tony Jefferson.

“He’s a competitor,” Harbaugh said. “He’s mad about some passes here and there.”

Jackson is entering his fifth-year option, which will pay him $23.016 million this season. If the sides are unable to reach an extension by March 7, Baltimore is expected to place the franchise tag on him.

“He’s the ultimate pro,” Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. “He prepares and handles his business the way you’re supposed to. Just being a young guy, he’s so mature. He understands how to do things the right way.”

The Ravens also announced they reached an injury settlement with defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and will release him. This comes one day after Wolfe announced he had his second hip surgery of the year.

Wolfe was solid in 2019, when the Ravens went 14-2. But he was sidelined all of last season with hip and back injuries. “So that’ll be it with that,” Harbaugh said of Wolfe.

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Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe undergoes second hip surgery this year

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe announced Monday that he underwent his second hip surgery of the year, which is the latest setback in his injury-filled career.

Wolfe, 32, missed all of past season with hip and back injuries. He had his first hip surgery in January and then had another one five months later.

“Feeling pretty good,” Wolfe said in an Instagram video that he recorded from his hospital bed. “We’re going to get a full recovery here and try to live a normal life.”

Wolfe’s $2 million salary this season is fully guaranteed, and his $3.8 salary cap figure ranks 13th on the Ravens. Baltimore re-signed Wolfe to a three-year, $12 million contract (including $5.4 million signing bonus) in March 2021, and he has yet to play a match since then.

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Wolfe injured his back and hip during joint practices with the Carolina Panthers in training camp. He was designated to return off injured reserve in November, but he reverted back to IR after briefly appearing in one practice.

Earlier this offseason, Wolfe told a hunting podcast that he didn’t know whether his hip injury would force him to retire. But Wolfe later tweeted in March that he fully intended on coming back this season.

Justin Madubuike stepped into the starting lineup in place of Wolfe last campaign, making 36 tackles and two sacks. Baltimore also signed Brent Urban, a former fourth-round pick, to provide more depth at defensive end.

A second-round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2012, Wolfe has struggled to stay healthy. He has missed a total of 39 games over the last nine seasons.

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Yankees ride Cole’s arm, quick start to 3-2 win over Orioles

On a night when their bats were held in check, the New York Yankees found another way to win.

Gerrit Cole pitched seven efficient innings, the defense backed him up with several strong plays and New York defeated the skidding Baltimore Orioles 3-2 Wednesday night.

Cole (4-0) permitted two runs and six hits with five strikeouts. Behind him, right fielder Marwin Gonzalez made two clutch grabs and Josh Donaldson flagged down several sharp grounders. Then, in the eighth, first baseman Anthony Rizzo grabbed a scorching liner to start an unassisted double play.

New York managed only six hits, but a three-run first inning that featured a sprint from second to home on a wild pitch proved enough to squeeze out a triumph.

And that, to a large degree, explains why New York is off to an amazing 28-9 start. “Tonight we won on baserunning and defense,” Cole noted, “and we’re the Bronx Bombers.”

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No home runs required. The Yankees could muster only a pair of doubles, but they still secured their 21st victory in 24 games.

“It’s been a great start, no question,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Just really pleased with how they’re doing it — in a lot of different ways. Tonight we leaned on the pitching and great baserunning.”

New York broke on top in the first when Gleyber Torres followed two-out singles by Rizzo and Donaldson with an RBI double. Then, on a wild pitch by Jordan Lyles, Donaldson scored and Torres came home on catcher Anthony Bemboom’s errant throw to the plate.

That was enough to propel the Yankees to their ninth win in the last 10 matches.

New York’s 28-9 start is tied for second-best in the majors since 1948, trailing only the 1984 Detroit Tigers at 32-5.

The Yankees will attempt to complete a four-game sweep of last-place Baltimore on Thursday afternoon. The Orioles, who have lost six consecutive, are the only team to take a series from the Yankees this season, winning two of three in mid-April.

After Cole’s impressive outing was done, Clay Holmes worked the final two innings for the third save of his career, all this season and all against the Orioles.

Making his 190th career start and 297th appearance, Lyles (2-4) gave up three runs — two earned — and five hits over seven innings. He struck out eight, including Joey Gallo three times — Gallo’s eighth game this year with three or four strikeouts.

Baltimore closed to 3-2 sixth when Austin Hays hit an RBI double and scored on an infield grounder.

“We’re just a hit or two from breaking out a little bit,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I thought we took really good at-bats off (Cole) the first time in the order, and like an ace does, he settled in and got better as the game went on.”

Boone filled out a starting lineup without stars Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu, who were healthy but rested for a team in the midst of playing 23 games in 22 days.

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Baltimore Ravens re-sign DE Calais Campbell to 2-year, $12.5M contract

Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell is coming back to the Baltimore Ravens on a two-year deal, the team revealed Saturday.

Campbell’s contract is worth $12.5 million but could be as much as $16.5 million with incentives, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Campbell, 35, decided to return for his 15th NFL season after briefly contemplating retirement, saying he still has a desire to play after watching the Los Angeles Rams celebrate their championship.

He now will get to conclude his career in Baltimore after spending the past two seasons there and will try to get that elusive Super Bowl ring.

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Over the past two days, the Ravens addressed two areas of need while bolstering their leadership on defense, bringing back middle linebacker Josh Bynes on Friday and then keeping Campbell on Saturday.

Ravens Lamar Jackson and Tony Jefferson II took to Twitter to share their reactions to Campbell’s return.

A six-time Pro Bowler, Campbell has long been known for his capacity to get to the quarterback.

But he was more of a run-stopper than a pass-rush force in his two seasons with Baltimore, where he managed 4.5 sacks, including 1.5 last season.

Durability has been a problem for Campbell with the Ravens. After his streak of 98 straight starts ended, Campbell missed six of his past 25 games with Baltimore.

He is one of four NFL defenders since 2000 to record at least 700 tackles and 85 sacks. Among all active players, his 93.5 career sacks rank 10th and his 773 career tackles are 12th. Campbell is still in search of that first Super Bowl championship after six trips to the playoffs.

He played nine seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, who selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft, and three with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being traded to the Ravens in March 2020 for a fifth-round pick.

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Baltimore Ravens fire defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale

The Baltimore Ravens have fired defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale with one year left on his contract.

This surprising shake-up represents the first move made by the Ravens since they lost six consecutive games to end the season and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh issued a statement Friday saying he and Martindale “agreed to move forward in separate directions.”

“We have had a great run on defense, and I am very proud of what has been accomplished and the work he has done,” Harbaugh said in his statement.

“Don has been a major contributor to the success of our defense since 2012, and especially since he became defensive coordinator four years ago. He has done a great job. Now it is time to pursue other opportunities.

“Sometimes the moment comes, and it’s the right time. I am personally grateful for our friendship and for everything he has done in Baltimore.”

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According to a source, the sides couldn’t reach an agreement on a one-year extension for Martindale through 2023.

There were members in the organization who were caught off guard by the parting of ways with Martindale. The decision came 12 days after the Ravens’ season-ending, 16-13 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and came after Martindale had participated in personnel meetings last week.

Martindale also was asked to address the players in the final team meeting a day after the season ended.

The move was revealed while the Ravens’ brain trust — Harbaugh, owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Eric DeCosta — was holding its annual organizational summit.

Baltimore ranked No. 25 on defense last season, the first time the Ravens had finished out of the top 10 in Martindale’s four seasons as defensive coordinator. The Ravens also permitted the second-most yards (363.4) in the franchise’s 26-year history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Martindale, 58, had been with the Ravens since their 2012 Super Bowl season and was known for his ultra-aggressive style. The Ravens regularly ranked among the highest-blitzing teams.

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AFC West rivals Chargers, Broncos face must-win situations

Two weeks ago the Los Angeles Chargers were feeling pretty secure about getting to the postseason for the first time since 2018.

After two consecutive losses though, their challenge is more formidable going into Sunday’s game versus the Denver Broncos.

“Now, it’s now or never. You don’t want to put it in everybody else’s hands; you want it to be in your hands,” Chargers defensive tackle Linval Joseph said. “We have to go out there and do what we have to do. We have to go out there and get it done this Sunday.”

The Chargers (8-7) got off to a 4-1 start under first-year coach Brandon Staley but have won consecutive games only once since mid-October. They have dropped their past two —a 34-28 overtime loss to Kansas City on Dec. 16 and an inexplicable 41-29 defeat at Houston last Sunday.

Staley’s message to his team this week has been about getting back to being consistent in practice and trying to approach things as normal as possible despite the evolving roster changes because of COVID-19.

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“You have to trust your plans and how you prepare. I think that’s what our approach is going to be this week, putting the focus on us and giving the Broncos their full respect by preparing each day the best that we know how. Regardless of the circumstances, treat each week like it has a life of its own,” Staley said.

The Chargers could get back into a wild-card spot with a win and losses by Miami to Tennessee and Baltimore to the Los Angeles Rams.

“Playoff games start now, and that’s the mindset,” wide receiver Keenan Allen said.

Denver (7-8) has won four of its past five against its division rival, including 28-13 on Nov. 28.

The Broncos started the season with three consecutive wins but have dropped three of their past four as their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

They need a win over the Chargers, coupled with victories by the Rams, Titans and Browns to go into next week’s regular-season finale against Kansas City with even a chance of getting back to the postseason for the first time since 2015, when they won their third Super Bowl title.

Another defeat would assure the Broncos of their fifth straight season under .500. Third-year coach Vic Fangio was on the hot seat going into the year and has tried to deflect talk about his job status during the latest slump.

“I’m not worried about do I have to win the next two to secure the job? That’s totally not in my frame of thought right now,” he said. “We’re going to do anything and everything we can to win this game this week.”

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Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson returns to practice with pronounced limp after missing 2 games with ankle injury

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson returned to practice Wednesday with a pronounced limp as Baltimore heads into what is essentially a must-win match versus the Los Angeles Rams.

Jackson, who is dealing with a right ankle injury, is expected to have limited participation on Sunday, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said before Wednesday’s practice. Sidelined for the past two games, Jackson will get back on the field for the first time since hurting his ankle on Dec. 12, when Baltimore lost at Cleveland 24-22.

During the half-hour media viewing, Jackson didn’t move around much when throwing to his receivers. When Jackson went from drill to drill, he had trouble jogging. He was officially listed as a limited participant.

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Harbaugh stated Jackson’s availability for Sunday’s game will depend on how he progresses throughout the week. If Jackson can’t play, Baltimore could turn to Tyler Huntley, who is expected to be activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday.

“I’m really hopeful,” Harbaugh said. “I’m hopeful for all our quarterbacks, starting with Lamar. I really want to see him out there on Sunday. I know the fans do, and I know most of all, Lamar does. He’s going to do everything he can to be out there. You can’t make a promise because we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

The Ravens (8-7) have lost four consecutive games and are currently No. 8 as they try to make the seven-team AFC playoff field. If Baltimore loses to the Rams, its chances of reaching the playoffs will plummet to 8%, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. The Ravens’ postseason chances would increase to 59% with a victory.

The return of Jackson could provide a boost when the Ravens need it the most. Jackson is 37-12 (.755) as a starting quarterback and has led Baltimore to the playoffs in each of his three seasons in the NFL.

Before the injury, Jackson was mired in the worst slump of his career. Since Week 10, Jackson has thrown three touchdowns and six interceptions for a 34.3 Total QBR, which ranks 25th in the league over that span.

But Jackson remains one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL. In his previous game versus the Rams, Jackson threw for five touchdowns and ran for 95 yards in a 45-6 rout in Los Angeles in his 2019 NFL MVP season.

Jackson’s injury has been described as a sprained ankle, but a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Jackson is dealing with a bone bruise.

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