Aaron Wilson reports from the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, where the buzz is about Ravens free-agent linebacker Pernell McPhee and the contract it would take to sign him. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
It was on Feb. 17 of last year when the Ravens officially agreed to a contract extension with outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, resolving one of their primary contract issues and providing themselves with some much-needed salary cap room heading into the free agency period.
I bring that up only to suggest that the clock is ticking. Now that the scouting combine is all but over, it isn't hard to predict what will become the front office's focus – creating salary cap space and trying to reach agreements on new contracts with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb.
The Ravens want to keep both players, but they're probably not going to be able to do that under their current contracts.
Will they be able to find deals suitable for both sides? They haven't to this point and the longer the talks drag on, the more skepticism there will be that the deals get done before free agency starts in about two weeks.
Deadlines, though, often bring sides closer together. The bet here is that the Ravens will put
their best foot forward in the next seven to 10 days and try to hammer out agreements. However, anybody who has followed how the Ravens do business knows that they won't be afraid to move on if they can't find common ground.
** Owner Steve Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh will speak to reporters tomorrow as part of the annual "State of the Ravens" address. There is plenty to ask the group, but it will be especially interesting to get their thoughts on Ngata and Webb, along with the teams' primary free agents, a group headed by Torrey Smith and Justin Forsett.
Obviously, I full expect the team's top decision makers to say that they want everyone back, but Bisciotti isn't one to sugarcoat things. The Ravens have yet to finalize any moves to free up salary cap space and until they do, there's not going to be much room for any big-ticket acquisitions or re-signings.
** The draft is still two months away, but there is one potential first-round pick that already has the attention of Ravens fans. If the tweets and emails I read this weekend were any indication, the selection of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham would be well received around these parts.
The former Missouri standout helped his draft status at the combine, posting a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash, which is absurd for a guy who is 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds. He's even drawn some comparisons to Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson.
The issue with Green-Beckham has never been his talent. It's his off-the-field indiscretions that led to him getting dismissed from Missouri. He faced drug chargers and allegations that he pushed a woman down a flight of stairs.
If not for these off-the-field concerns, Green-Beckham would probably be considered a top-five pick. Even with them, he's no lock to be available when the Ravens first pick at 26th, especially not after his impressive showing at the combine.
The Ravens will obviously do their homework on him and make a decision from there. But I think it goes without saying that after what the Ravens experienced last season, It's going to be a very tough sell for them to draft a player who has significant off-the-field concerns. A bad decision is one thing. A pattern of them is another.
** Here's a potential salary cap cut that could interest the Ravens: Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cary Williams. The former Raven carries a $8.1 million salary cap hit in the final year of his deal with the Eagles. He's coming off a disappointing season and he's clashed with Eagles head coach Chip Kelly on occasion.
Williams isn't a shutdown corner by any stretch, but he's the type of big and brash corner that the Ravens like. Plus, he probably would come reasonably cheap and signing him wouldn't cost the Ravens in potential draft-pick compensation.
With the rumored price tags on the top free agent cornerbacks – Seattle Seahawks corner Byron Maxwellcould get $8 to $10 million per year, according to my colleague Aaron Wilson – it's going to be hard for the Ravens to be in that market. Signing a guy like Williams and drafting a cornerback early would constitute an upgrade.
** In case you missed it, ESPN reported Saturday that pending free agent inside linebacker Rolando McClain is facing potential discipline for violating the league's substance abuse policy. McClain had a really good season after the Ravens traded him to the Dallas Cowboys last July.
If you recall, McClain had retired from the Ravens for a second time, having never played a game or even participated in a practice with them. All the Ravens got out of the deal was an exchange of draft picks – they took the Cowboys' sixth-round pick this year in exchange for their seventh – but it was better than nothing.
McClain was never going to play for the Ravens and as he's proven again with this latest incident that could lead to a suspension or heavy fine, he remains a hard guy to trust.