Tagged in: Ravens

JuJu Smith-Schuster opts to re-sign with Pittsburgh Steelers

JuJu Smith-Schuster on Friday revealed he has agreed to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, becoming just the third wide receiver in the modern era to earn a second contract with the organization, joining Hines Ward and Antonio Brown.

Smith-Schuster told NFL Network on Friday that he had strong offers from the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Philadelphia Eagles also offered a multiyear deal with more money.

Instead, Smith-Schuster wound up staying with the Steelers on a one-year deal that he told NFL Network was “probably like my third-lowest offer.”

A source told ESPN’s Field Yates that Smith-Schuster’s $8 million contract with the Steelers has a $7 million signing bonus, $1 million base salary and four void years. The contract’s structure will result in a $2.4 million cap hit in 2021 and a $5.6 million cap hit in 2022, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

“This is my home, they’re gonna need a wrecking ball to take me outta here! PITTSBURGH I LOVE YOU, LET’S GO!!!!!” he posted on Twitter.

Signing Smith-Schuster doesn’t come without consequences, however, and the cap-strapped Steelers also have granted permission to starting cornerback Steven Nelson to seek a trade, a source told Schefter.

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The Steelers had less than $4 million in cap space as of Friday morning, and trading or cutting Nelson would free up a little more than $8 million.

Nelson’s departure would make him the fifth starting defensive player to depart from the team in free agency, including veteran linebacker Vince Williams, who was released earlier this week.

Smith-Schuster’s 2020 season concluded on something of a sour note as he came under fire for his comments before the season-ending playoff loss to the rival Cleveland Browns.

“I think they’re still the same Browns that I’ve played every year,” Smith-Schuster stated before the match. “I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple of good players on their team. But at the end of the day, the Browns is the Browns.”

The receiver also was scrutinized during the season for his dances on the midfield logos of opponents before games that he posted on TikTok — a practice he stopped after coach Mike Tomlin talked to him when it was drawing more and more attention from opponents and media.

Smith-Schuster, 24, became a fan favorite soon after he was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft. Known for riding his bicycle to the team’s South Side facility, Smith-Schuster gained even more notoriety when it was stolen and then returned within 24 hours.

In four NFL seasons, he has 308 receptions for 3,726 yards and 26 touchdowns in 58 games.

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Bills advance to AFC championship with 17-3 win over Ravens

In what was supposed to be a showdown between Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Taron Johnson literally stole the show.

If not for the wall separating the field from the stands in the back of the east end zone, the Bills cornerback might still be running after returning an interception 101 yards for a touchdown that propelled Buffalo to its first AFC championship game appearance in 27 years.

Johnson’s pick-6 of Jackson’s pass with 41 seconds left in the third quarter helped secure a 17-3 triumph over the Ravens in a divisional-round playoff game Saturday night.

“We’re excited. It’s not done yet, we’re not done yet,” Johnson exclaimed. “It’s just a blessing. Our defense stepped up to the challenge.” Johnson’s return matched the longest in NFL history and punctuated a stellar defensive outing in which Buffalo (15-3) limited the NFL’s top running offense to 150 yards on 32 carries.

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Jackson, last season’s NFL MVP, was sacked three times and did not return after sustaining a concussion following the final play of the third quarter, and two plays after Johnson scored. He finished 14 of 24 for 162 yards passing, while being limited to 42 yards rushing on nine carries.

Allen, an MVP candidate this year, finished 23 of 37 for 206 yards and a touchdown.

In a season in which the Bills relied mostly on their dynamic Allen-led offense to outscore opponents, the third-year quarterback was gratified to see Buffalo’s defense make a difference in a game the pass-happy attack was kept mostly in check.

The Bills advanced to the AFC championship game for the first time since 1994 on their way to making — and losing — their four consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Buffalo also extended a season in which it has broken numerous droughts by claiming its first AFC East division title in 25 years and, with last week’s victory over Indianapolis, winning its first postseason match since the same year.

The Bills, have won eight consecutives to match their best streak since 1990 and will play the winner of the AFC’s other divisional playoff between Cleveland and Kansas City on Sunday.

The fifth-seeded Ravens (12-6) had their season come to an end after leading the NFL in yards rushing for a second consecutive year. Baltimore clinched its third playoff berth in three years by winning its final five regular-season games. The winning streak came after a 1-4 skid capped by a 19-14 loss at Pittsburgh on Dec. 2 in a game rearranged three times due to COVID-19 issues.

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Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh won’t say if Lamar Jackson will play vs. Dallas Cowboys

Starting quarterback and reigning NFL regular-season Most Valuable Player Lamar Jackson was one of a handful of Baltimore Ravens players who tested positive for COVID-19 amid the club’s worrisome coronavirus outbreak that caused its showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers to be postponed on three occasions.

Baltimore was without Jackson during Wednesday’s 19-14 defeat at Heinz Field, and head coach John Harbaugh refused to say if the signal-caller will be available for the upcoming contest versus the Dallas Cowboys that was rearranged to Tuesday night.

“I think I already answered that,” Harbaugh replied when asked about Jackson’s status during Thursday’s media availability, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “When the doctors clear them for practice, that’s when we’ll have them,” he added about the 17 Baltimore players now on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III filled in for Jackson versus Pittsburgh but suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter that knocked him out of the game. Griffin rushed for a team-high 68 yards but completed just seven of 12 passes for 33 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

Trace McSorley substituted Griffin and completed two of his six attempts, one of which was a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Brown.

Harbaugh did say that punter Sam Koch won’t be needed as an emergency QB, which suggests two of the three players at the position will be ready to go by Tuesday evening.

The Ravens players had a day off and will return Friday for their first full practice since Nov. 20, a span of two weeks. The outbreak in Baltimore limited the team to a couple of walk-throughs. The Ravens had no positive tests Wednesday, which ended a stretch of 10 consecutive days with at least one player testing positive.

“We need to have some good practices and get our football sea legs under us so we can go out there and perform the way we want to,” Harbaugh said. The Ravens have lost three consecutive games to fall to 6-5.

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Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson misses practice because of knee injury

The Baltimore Ravens were missing their best player when they took to the practice field on Wednesday, but it apparently won’t be an issue for when the team kicks off versus the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday. 

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson did not practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury that is not considered severe. He was held out of practice for “precautionary reasons” while Robert Griffin III took snaps as the No. 1 quarterback. 

Jackson was pulled early from the Ravens’ Week 4 31-17 victory over the Washington Football Team, but that’s likely because it was not a close game.

The reigning NFL MVP seemed to be fine, as he completed 14 of 21 passes for 193 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and also rushed seven times for 53 yards. In the second quarter, he even reeled off a career-long 50-yard touchdown, which extended the lead to double digits. 

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Jackson and the Ravens appeared to have bounced back from the 34-20 loss they suffered to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.

During that matchup, Jackson managed just 97 passing yards and one passing touchdown, as the Chiefs’ defense controlled the tempo of the game. 

According to Schefter, Jackson should be fine for the Ravens’ Week 5 divisional matchup with the Bengals, but it is interesting that he was not even a limited participant on Wednesday.

Jackson has missed just one game in his career, a Week 17 contest at the end of 2019 in which he did not play in order to rest and avoid potential injury ahead of Baltimore’s postseason. If Jackson were unavailable for the Ravens’ Week 5 game versus Cincinnati due to the knee issue, it would be his first game missed because of injury in his career.

Jackson won the 2019 MVP as part of the league’s best rushing offense in which he set the single-season rushing record for a quarterback with 1,206 yards and seven scores on the ground.

He’s completed 68.4% of his passes for 769 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception, and rushed 39 times for 235 yards and one score while leading the Ravens to a 3-1 start in 2020.

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Baltimore Ravens’ Marlon Humphrey signs contract extension

The Ravens have signed All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey to a five-year extension that keeps him in Baltimore through the 2026 season.

“Marlon is the type of player we want in Baltimore,” Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta said. “Besides his obvious talents as a playmaking corner, he’s a passionate competitor who craves winning. Marlon has been a stalwart in our community, and we are excited that he’s going to remain with us for seven seasons.”

Humphrey had two years left on his rookie deal, so he’s now on a seven-year contract. According to reports, the extension is worth $98.75 million with an average salary of $19.5 million per year, making Humphrey one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL.

The Ravens have a handful of young stars that they are working to keep in Baltimore, so inking Humphrey to the long-term deal crosses one big-ticket item off the list. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, outside linebacker Matthew Judon, quarterback Lamar Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. are other 2019 Pro Bowlers who will be up for an extension in the coming years.

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“These are difficult deals to reach, and the credit goes to Pat Moriarty and Joel Segal for working together to get it done,” DeCosta said. “We give a big congratulations to Marlon and his family. This is a good day for the Ravens.”

The Ravens signed Humphrey’s fellow starting cornerback, Marcus Peters, to a three-year, $42 million extension near the end of last season, so Baltimore will have arguably the NFL’s top cornerback duo for years to come.

Humphrey has grown into one of the best cornerbacks in the game and perhaps the Ravens’ most indispensable defensive player.

The 2017 first-round pick out of Alabama has been everything the Ravens could have asked for and more.

He has the speed and agility to keep up with any wide receiver, yet also plays with the physicality of a safety. He’s been a big-time playmaker the past two campaigns. Last year, Humphrey made three interceptions, forced two fumbles and returned two fumbles for touchdowns. His punchout and recovery in Pittsburgh last year essentially won the game in overtime.

Humphrey has picked up where he left off this season. He intercepted the Browns’ Baker Mayfield in Week 1, then made a game-changing punchout in Houston in Week 2. Humphrey showed off his physicality in the “Monday Night Football” loss to the Chiefs.

Humphrey has played in 49 games (31 starts), racking up 150 tackles, eight interceptions, 44 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Since 2017, Humphrey is one of two NFL defenders (joining Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore) to produce at least 40 passes defensed, eight interceptions, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

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Dez Bryant leaves Ravens tryout without deal

Dez Bryant left his tryout with the Baltimore Ravens without a deal, a source said Thursday.

It’s possible the Ravens could add Bryant at some point, but the source said nothing is imminent with the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver.

Bryant, 31, is trying to become the second Pro Bowl wide receiver to miss two full seasons and then to the NFL since the 1970 merger (Josh Gordon was the first), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He hasn’t played in a match since December 2017.

Ravens officials have been quiet about their interest in Bryant, but Baltimore has expressed excitement in its young wide receivers. Miles Boykin, a second-year player who is big and physical, like Bryant, has had a strong start to training camp this week.

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The Ravens could have brought in Bryant to keep him on a short list of options if injuries hit the wide receiver position.

Thursday’s workout came after Bryant had been in communications with the Ravens for months, a source said.

Bryant landed in Baltimore on Monday and underwent two days of coronavirus testing before his tryout. Wide receiver Dwayne Harris, a Pro Bowl special-teams player in 2016, also had a tryout with Baltimore on Thursday.

Harris also did not sign with the Ravens on Thursday, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The Ravens tried to sign Bryant in April 2018. However, he turned down a multiyear offer from the team then because he wanted a one-year deal and an opportunity to prove himself, in hopes of getting a bigger long-term deal in 2019, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder.

Bryant signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the New Orleans Saints in November 2018. But he tore an Achilles tendon during his first practice with the Saints and has been out of the NFL since.

Bryant’s 531 career receptions would be the most by any wide receiver before missing two full seasons and then returning to the NFL, according to Elias.

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Ravens Waive LB Jake Ryan After Signing Him This Offseason

It didn’t take long for the Baltimore Ravens to cut ties with one of their offseason acquirements.

On Thursday, the Ravens revealed they’ve waived linebacker Jake Ryan just one month after signing him to a one-year, $985,000 contract.

The Ravens signed Ryan to improve their linebacker corps, but his spot on the roster was in jeopardy after the team drafted LSU’s Patrick Queen and Ohio State’s Malik Harrison. Instead of waiting until training camp, Baltimore opted to put Ryan on the waiver wire in June.

Ryan was a former 2015 fourth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers out of Michigan. He started off his NFL career as a rotational linebacker, but slowly started earning starters snap in his second and third years. In his first three seasons, Ryan recorded 213 tackles (15 for loss), eight quarterback hits, one forced fumble, and one sack.

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His stint in Green Bay reached it’s conclusion after suffering a torn ACL during training camp in 2018, forcing him to miss the entire season.

As an unrestricted free agent last year, Ryan signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He didn’t make an impact with the Jags, as he started his season on the non-football injury list. Ryan played in just two games, where he didn’t post a single statistic.

Considering there are plenty of teams who need depth at linebacker, it should only be a matter of time before Ryan is picked up or signed before the start of summer drills.

In four NFL seasons, Ryan has used his size and physicality to develop into a reliable defender against the run, but he has struggled in coverage. He totaled 213 tackles (including 15 for loss), one sack, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 45 career games (27 starts).

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Chiefs claim Terrell Suggs after losing Alex Okafor

Terrell Suggs, the all-time sack leader in Ravens history, was claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, according to multiple reports. Suggs was released Friday by the Arizona Cardinals.

The Chiefs have already clinched the AFC West, but one of their pass rushers, Alex Okafor, suffered a reported pectoral tear Sunday.

It remains to be seen if Suggs will report to the Chiefs, however. Suggs was angling for a return to the Ravens where he spent his first 16 NFL seasons, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

If he played for the Chiefs, Suggs could potentially go ahead his former team (again) in the playoffs. With the NFL’s best record (12-2), the Ravens have the league’s lowest waiver claim, meaning every other team had a chance Monday to claim Suggs before Baltimore.

ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported that the Ravens did not submit a claim for Suggs, but could have signed him as a free agent if no other team did.

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Suggs is one of the greatest defensive players in Ravens history and holds the franchise record with 132 ½ sacks. 

He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2003, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 and helped the Ravens acquire a Super Bowl in 2012.

Although Suggs often talked about wanting to end his career in Baltimore, the 37-year-old outside linebacker chose to sign with the Cardinals during free agency, even though he said the Ravens made a push to bring him back.

Suggs went to college at Arizona State and said one of the factors in signing with the Cardinals was an opportunity to return home.

If Suggs elects not to report to Kansas City, speculation would likely continue about a possible reunion with the Ravens. Baltimore outside linebacker Matthew Judon endorsed Suggs’ return on social media after he was released.

The Ravens have won 10 straight matches and the defense has improved as the season has progressed. Judon is the leader of Baltimore’s pass rush, having his best season with a career-high 8 ½ sacks. Tyus Bowser (five sacks) is also having a career year, including a strip sack of New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold last Thursday night.

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Ravens QB Lamar Jackson breaks Michael Vick´s single season rushing yards record

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson just broke the NFL’s all-time season rushing record for a quarterback, set by Michael Vick back in 2006.

Jackson entered Thursday’s game versus the New York Jets with 1,017 rushing yards — 22 behind Vick’s total of 1,039. Vick achieved his total with fewer attempts (but in more games) that season than Jackson had had in 2019.

Jackson — wearing white sleeves and a white glove — reached the 1,000-yard mark last week versus the Buffalo Bills, joining Vick as the only other QB to reach quadruple digits on the ground in a single season.

Then Jackson broke Vick’s all-time mark with a five-yard red-zone run in the first quarter versus the Jets that set up a Mark Ingram touchdown run on the next play.

Vick’s mark was once thought to be unbreakable in a passing-heavy era where running quarterbacks sometimes have been asked to throw more and run less. But with the Ravens, Jackson has been given carte blanche to run and throw with a scheme that perfectly accentuates his skills.

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And it’s a big reason why Jackson appears to be one of the runaway MVP favorites in December.

With three more games left, Jackson could even approach the 1,300-yard mark with a few more big performances with his legs and land somewhere in the league’s top 10 rushers this season.

Vick achieved his record — breaking Bobby Douglass’ mark of 968, set in 1972 — with a mere 123 rushes in 16 games back in 2016. It took Jackson 154 carries to earn the season record, but he did so in the Ravens’ 14th game of this season.

Jackson still has some work to do to catch Vick’s career rushing total of 6,109 yards on the ground. Jackson is less than one-third of the way toward that mark. But through 30 NFL games (21 starts), Jackson is averaging close to 60 rush yards per game.

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Ravens center Matt Skura to have season ending surgery

The Baltimore Ravens offense suffered a tough setback Tuesday.

Ravens center Matt Skura, one of the NFL’s best offensive lineman, reportedly will miss the remaining of the 2019 season due to a knee injury suffered in Monday night’s Week 12 road victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

The Ravens will turn to rookie Patrick Mekari in Skura’s absence.

Mekari, a California product, had never played center before taking over Monday night for Skura. He spent training camp mostly playing guard, but sometimes center as well.

Skura’s excellent play is a major reason why the Ravens offensive line is graded No. 1 in pass blocking and No. 4 in run blocking by Pro Football Focus entering Week 13.

The Ravens face their toughest remaining test of the regular season Sunday at home versus the NFC-leading San Francisco 49ers. Baltimore is one game behind the New England Patriots in the race for the AFC’s No. 1 spot but holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the defending Super Bowl champs as a result of its Week 9 win.

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Skura transformed himself over the offseason and was one of the Ravens’ most dependable players, helping lead the way to the NFL’s best rushing attack. 

He was originally diagnosed with a sprain, but further tests revealed the injury was more serious than thought.

Skura, a fourth-year pro out of Duke, will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Skura’s absence will be the first major injury the offensive line will have to face all year — Bradley Bozeman and Orlando Brown Jr. have yet to miss a snap, and Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda have been consistent all season long. 

Skura is an unheralded member of an offense that averages 35.1 points per match and produces an NFL-best 210.5 yards rushing. He had started 27 straight games at center and totaled the second-most snaps in the NFL (1,812) over the past two seasons.

This season, Skura ranked 14th among centers in ESPN’s pass block win rate. He was also second in the AFC in Pro Bowl voting.

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