Ravens running back Justin Forsett talks about being a free agent and the business side of football. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
There's a lot of speculation that pending free agent running back Justin Forsett will wind up in Denver with Gary Kubiak, but I don't see it. Obviously, Kubiak pushed for the Ravens to sign Forsett last offseason and the two are close. Forsett is also a great fit in Kubiak's offense.
But look at the Broncos' roster right now. They have six running backs, all 25 or younger. That group includes C.J. Anderson, who rushed for 757 yards and eight touchdowns on just 179 carries and made the Pro Bowl last season; Montee Ball, a second-round pick in 2013; and Ronnie Hillman, a speedy back who had four touchdowns in eight games last season.
If you're the Broncos, and you need all the salary cap space that you can muster to try and re-sign top targets Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, wouldn't Forsett be much more of a luxury than a necessity?
And if you're Forsett, why join a crowded backfield after you worked so hard in your career to establish yourself as the lead back?
Aside from the obvious Kubiak connection, I just don't see Forsett as a fit in Denver.
** On the other hand, I definitely could see tight end Owen Daniels ending up with the Broncos. Denver could lose Julius Thomas, along with slot wide receiver Wes Welker.
Peyton Manning loves his tight ends and Daniels' fondness for Kubiak is well documented. The Ravens would like to re-sign Daniels too, but they'll have competition.
** NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former Ravens scout, said Sunday night on Twitter that he only ranks one safety among the top 50 players in the upcoming draft. That safety is Alabama's Landon Collins, who will be long gone by the time the Ravens prepare to make their first selection at No. 26 overall.
Obviously, player rankings will fluctuate over the next two months leading up to the draft, and several safeties could stand out at the scouting combine, which starts in a couple of days. But Jeremiah's rankings reinforce two things: This is a poor draft for safeties and if the Ravens are going to get immediate help at the position – and they badly need it – they are probably going to have to do it in free agency.
** A lot of Ravens fans I've heard from are clamoring for the team to sign veteran safety and three-time Pro-Bowl selection Antrel Rolle. That move would likely reunite Rolle with his former New York Giants' teammate Will Hill, who is a restricted free agent but is expected to be back for a second season with the Ravens.
Rolle has had a great career and he'd bring play-making ability, experience, toughness, accountability and leadership. But the Ravens would have to decide if last year was an aberration for Rolle or if the 32-year-old has quickly hit the downside of his career.
Last season, the analytics website, Pro Football Focus, ranked Rolle 81st out of 87 safeties. For those wondering, much-maligned Ravens' safety Matt Elam ranked 78th. Hill ranked 14th while fellow Ravens starter, Darian Stewart, who is also an unrestricted free agent, was 30th.
Nobody says that the rankings are the be-all and end-all and Rolle didn't have a whole lot of help in an injury-ravaged Giants' secondary. However, his tape from last season isn't pretty. Is a change of scenery all that Rolle needs? The Ravens are going to have to decide that for themselves.
** The Ravens had interest in veteran running back Chris Johnson last offseason, but the three-time Pro Bowl selection wanted to go somewhere where he thought that he would be the featured back. He chose to sign with the New York Jets, but after one disappointing season with them – Johnson rushed for 663 yards and one touchdown on 155 carries – his contract option was declined and he'll be a free agent again.
Johnson, now 29 and coming off his worst NFL season, probably won't be able to be as choosy as he was last offseason. But the bigger question is: Will the Ravens be interested in him again this offseason?
If the Ravens can't re-sign Forsett who wants to stay in Baltimore but figures to get a bigger contract offer elsewhere, they are almost certain to sign another veteran back on the cheap.
Johnson is one option, but there are many others as the supply of free agent running backs will far exceed the demand. DeMarco Murray, coming off a career year with the Dallas Cowboys, heads the list, which should include Forsett, Ahmad Bradshaw,Mark Ingram, Ryan Mathews, Roy Helu, Frank Gore, Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Knowshon Moreno, Darren McFadden and C.J. Spiller.
Like several league officials said in the story, I agree that another team will be willing to give him another chance. The Indianapolis Colts balked at signing Rice late this past season even after they lost several running backs to injury, so I'm not sure their stance would change now. But since Bradshaw is a free agent and Trent Richardson's tumultuous stint with the team appears close to over, Rice would be nice veteran insurance in the backfield for them.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano, a former Ravens assistant, also probably knows Rice better than any other NFL head coach, aside from John Harbaugh. But again, just speculation on my part based on the belief that Rice would be a nice fit there.