"If I had my way, I would like to get something done beforehand," said Torrey Smith when asked about testing the free-agent market. "But I understand it's a business, and nothing is guaranteed." (Kevin Richardson/BSMG)
Whatever the Ravens decide on pending free agent wide receiver Torrey Smith, it will be met by a decidedly mixed reaction from fans.
I hear regularly from those who want the Ravens to pull out all the stops and re-sign Smith, and I hear just as often from those who feel like the team should let him go. The former cite his 11 touchdowns this past season, his game-breaking speed and his presence in the locker room and in the community. The latter cite his decrease in catches this past season and his inconsistency tracking the ball and making tough catches.
My suggestion to the latter group would be to be careful what you wish for. Now, don't misunderstand – I don't think the Ravens should overpay for Smith, who is not a No. 1 wide receiver. But as my buddy Luke Jones wrote yesterday for WNST.net, it would be foolish to think the Ravens could easily and immediately replace Smith with a rookie or another free agent.
Smith had his issues this past season, but he's still a guy who the opposition game plans for, who puts a ton of pressure on the back end of defenses and who makes big plays and draws big penalties. My sense is there's a fair deal to be made and both sides want it to happen.
However, Smith isn't going to come cheap, nor should he. When you get past Dallas' Dez Bryant and Denver's Demaryius Thomas, who both could get the franchise tag from their respective teams, Smith is part of that second tier of free-agent receivers that includes Randall Cobb, Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin. Smith is going to get paid by someone.
I wrote the other day about the questions the Ravens will have to answer when deciding whether to release or hold onto wide receiver-kick returner Jacoby Jones.
Here's the question they are going to have to answer when contemplating the same scenario with cornerback Lardarius Webb: Is he beyond the back issues that essentially forced him to miss all of training camp and three regular-season games, or is it an issue that's going to limit him for the rest of his career?
Webb, who does turn 30 later this year and has dealt with several significant injuries, made progress as the season went on, even if he never did get back to pre-injury form.
He carries a $12 million cap number for the 2015 season, but releasing him before June 1 would save just $2 million in cap space and create even more issues for the Ravens at cornerback.
It's another tough call that general manager Ozzie Newsome and company are going to have to make.
McPhee, and those like him, in demand
While watching the effect Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett had on the Super Bowl, I couldn't help but think of Ravens pending free agent Pernell McPhee.
Now, McPhee isn't Bennett, one of the best in the league at his position. But pass rushers, specifically ones who are versatile enough to get to the quarterback from different spots, are so in demand. McPhee is going to become a very rich man this offseason
Good for former Ravens safety Ed Reed to challenge current players amid the latest flurry of arrests and off-the-field issues that continue to plague the NFL.
"We have to realize the opportunities we are given, and protect what we invest into them," Reed wrote on his Twitter account. The tweet came not long after reports surfaced yesterday that Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle (misdemeanor drug charge), Indianapolis Colts middle linebacker and former University of Maryland standout D'Qwell Jackson (simple assault), and Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion (felony gun and drug possession charges) had been arrested in separate incidents.
The offseason is only three days old and the player arrests are mounting at a ridiculous rate. I'm not sure exactly what can be done to start curbing the NFL's rash of off-the-field incidents, but well-respected former and current players speaking out publicly and holding one another accountable certainly can't hurt.
"We all struggle with something," Reed also wrote. "No excuse." Amen.
As for another former Ravens' safety, Bernard Pollard made a little bit of news during Super Bowl week when he reportedly asked the Tennessee Titans for his release.
Pollard, one of the most outspoken players in the NFL, apparently isn't pleased with the direction of the Titans and was upset with the recent firing of executive Lake Dawson. Things got a little ugly, with Pollard taking to Twitter to fire back at Titans fans.
Pollard is recovering from an Achilles' injury, so there's not much the Titans can do with him now, but it seems pretty clear where this is headed. It would also continue the career trend for Pollard, who seems to make a great first impression on teams with his passion and physicality but ultimately wears out his welcome.
If Pollard gets his wish and is let go by the Titans, he'll be looking for his fifth team in 10 seasons. His longest stint with one team is three years with the Kansas City Chiefs, who selected him in the second round of the NFL draft.