Our Ravens beat writer, Jeff Zrebiec, is currently scurrying around Indianapolis trying to figure out who the team might be looking to draft. He’ll catch up with Ravens officials soon – general manager Ozzie Newsome is speaking to reporters today – but in the meantime, head coach John Harbaugh talked with Jerry Coleman of 105.7 The Fan. A portion of that interview can be heard by using the player above. The rest is here.
Predictably, Harbaugh wouldn’t drop names of players the team is taking a close look at. Asked specifically about offensive lineman, he said, essentially, that there are some good tackles out there. And a few good guards. And, yes, some good centers.
Continuing in this forthcoming vein, he revealed that it will be important for the Ravens to find sleepers in the later rounds.
Probably the most interesting thing Harbaugh had to say came when he was asked whether star running back Ray Rice, a potential free agent, would hold out if the team couldn’t agree to a deal with him and instead used the franchise tag.
At first he said, he “couldn’t speak to” whether Rice would opt for that route. Then, he spoke rather candidly to his opinions on holding out.
“I would be surprised, just knowing Ray and I know how much he loves football,” Harbaugh said. “I think he understands there’s not leverage to be gained by doing that.
“Guys who’ve done that haven’t come out and played well. That would never be the way to get a contract here. That’s not how the Ravens have operated.”
Terrell Suggs, of course, held out for a few weeks prior to the 2008 season. But he eventually signed the franchise tag and only later signed a long-term deal.
With both Rice and the Ravens saying repeatedly that they’d like for a long-term deal to get done, there’s nothing to indicate that it won’t happen. Harbaugh basically guaranteed as much, saying, “He’s going to be here. He’s going to be making franchise-tag numbers, at least.”
But it’s at least interesting that lines are being drawn, and stances are becoming public. No matter how lovey-dovey the Ravens organization fancies itself to be, the business side of this is unavoidable.
Which makes for a nice segue to discussing the most heartfelt of Harbaugh’s comments. He talked at length about the family atmosphere on the team, and his pride in how hard the players fought last season. The whole thing is worth a listen, but it built to this essential point:
“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We had a great season, and a disappointing loss. But the disappointment just stokes your internal fires to compete. But I’m at peace with it, ‘cause our guys had put their heart and soul in it.”
A few other notes of interest:
- The Ravens will offer left guard Ben Grubbs a hefty contract, Harbaugh said. Though he obviously didn’t discuss specific numbers, he spoke in broad terms: “We’re in negotiations of offering a lot of money. We would like for Ben and [right guard] Marshall [Yanda] to be the two anchors of our offensive line going forward. Two guards who are as good as any guards in the league, and we’d like to pay Ben as such.”
- Harbaugh said that he was surprised by Ricky Williams’ original decision to consider retirement. And then he was surprised again that Williams didn’t rethink the decision. But he said he’s confident the Ravens can go into next season with Anthony Allen and Damien Berry serving as backups.
- Harbaugh said he’s spoken with former defensive coordinator and new Colts coach Chuck Pagano, and reiterated that he wishes him the best. But he didn’t mention that there’s an underlying tension between them now that they’ll have to compete.
- Regarding quarterback Joe Flacco, who is also looking for a new contract, Harbaugh offered to say what he always says about Joe Flacco and then said what he always says about Joe Flacco: “He’s our guy. I can say all the things I’ve said over and over again, and I happy to continue saying it: we believe in Joe. I believe in Joe.”