Ravens beat writer Jeff Zrebiec talks about some of the key NFL free agents that are still unsigned. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
For all the fans clamoring for the Ravens to sign free-agent running back LeGarrette Blount and wide receiver Anquan Boldin, here are two statistics to keep in mind: Blount's 3.9 yards per carry average was lower than what both of the Ravens' top two backs – Terrance West (4.0) and Kenneth Dixon (4.3) – had last year. And Boldin's average of 8.7 yards per reception was barely above what Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (8.5) averaged last year. Don't misunderstand: I think both would strengthen the overall roster, but I don't know how either would result in the Ravens offense being that much more dynamic. At this point, though, that's going to be hard to do, given what's available.
With Michael Floyd agreeing to a deal with his hometown Minnesota Vikings yesterday, Boldin is really the only current free-agent wide receiver who still makes sense for the Ravens. He has a rapport with quarterback Joe Flacco, and a well-earned reputation as a trusted target on third down and in the red zone. His physicality would also help the Ravens in the middle of the field. I'm guessing I'm in the minority on this, but I think the Ravens would be better served just using Michael Campanaro and Chris Moore in more prominent roles than signing free agents such as Victor Cruz and Vincent Jackson, who both have struggled with injuries in recent years.
Blount would cost compensatory pick
There is an interesting twist on Blount's availability. According to the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe, the Patriots applied a seldom-used May 9 tender to Blount that would mean a team signing the running back could still lose a compensatory pick. Details are here.This probably goes without saying, but I can't see the Ravens being willing to risk losing the third-round compensatory pick they are in line to get after losing right tackle Rick Wagner to sign Blount.
Free-agent center Nick Mangold took a free-agent visit to the Ravens in early April and while it was said to have gone well, there's been no developments since. Perhaps, Mangold's health is a major reason. In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio this week, the 33-year-old called recovery from an ankle injury that prematurely ended his 2016 season a "slow grind" and said it's taken "a lot longer" than he'd expected. Mangold hasn't played that well the past two seasons and if there are ongoing concerns about his health, you can see why the Ravens have stood pat.
What was behind first-round draft trade talk?
By the way, I mentioned this in a story that ran the day after the draft, but it's worth repeating given that I'm still getting asked about it. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged that the Ravens tried to trade up "in the teens" in the first round of the draft to get into position to select a player they coveted. He didn't mention who the Ravens were targeting, but it was widely believed the player was Temple linebacker Haason Reddick who ultimately went 13th to the Arizona Cardinals. However, the top player on the board for the Ravens at the time, and the guy they were trying to move up to get, was actually Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who went 11th overall to the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens' interest in Lattimore, plus all the due diligence they did in fellow Buckeyes cornerback Gareon Conley and the fact that they ultimately stayed at 16 and picked Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, shows how badly the team wanted to come out of the first round with a corner.
In a related note, Humphrey was honored yesterday in his hometown of Mobile, Ala. The city had a gathering at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium which included speeches by dignitaries and a fireworks show, to commemorate Humphrey starting his NFL career.
Assuming linebacker Lamar Louis signs his exclusive-rights free-agent tender, the Ravens will have 85 players on their roster. That leaves room for five more additions. Those could come from the signing of veteran free agents or from adding tryout players who made a good impression at last week's rookie minicamp. One "tryout" player expected to be signed is New Hampshire safety Casey DeAndrade. A four-year starter for the Wildcats, DeAndrade had 285 career tackles, 62 passes defended, nine interceptions, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries in his college career. He also returned punts and kickoffs. DeAndrade is expected to return to Baltimore next week to take a physical and sign a contract. The Ravens could announce the signing of him and a few other "tryout" players at that point.
Undrafted running back Taquan Mizzell, who had a standout career at Virginia, looked pretty explosive at last week's rookie minicamp, but it would be foolish to make any conclusions based on the one day of workouts that was open to the media. However, one guy I'm interested in seeing more of is Maine defensive lineman Pat Ricard. Admittedly, I didn't know anything about Ricard until his name came up in a story I was working on before the draft about local players who were hoping to either be drafted or signed by an NFL team as an undrafted free agent. Former Delaware offensive lineman and Severn native Connor Bozick singled out Ricard as the toughest player he's ever faced. In four years at Maine, Ricard had 208 tackles and 18 sacks. The Ravens are deep along the defensive line, so Ricard will have an uphill battle to make the team. However, the Ravens usually find ways to keep talented and hard-working defensive linemen, even if it's on the practice squad.