Coming less than a week after running back Ray Rice was arrested following an alleged physical altercation with his fiancée, the timing of wide receiver Deonte Thompson’s arrest Friday on charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia was extremely poor.
Owner Steve Bisciotti and the organization’s top decisions makers have worked very hard to change the image of the franchise. Two arrests in a week’s span doesn’t diminish that effort, though it’s certainly not a good look and there will be a lot of pressure on members of the organization to behave the rest of the offseason.
But beyond that, it could be a critical error in judgment for Thompson who already was facing a key offseason. Thompson went to training camp last year as one of the projected breakout players and a potential long-term answer at wide receiver. Instead, he hurt his foot in the preseason opener. He missed the first three games with the injury and then when he did return, he was essentially a nonfactor. He was inactive for the final six games and was held without a catch in another three.
Thompson has flashed some big-play ability, but being consistent and reliable is something that has eluded him in both practices and games. With the emergence of Marlon Brown, the return of Aaron Mellette and the organization’s prioritizing of adding another pass catcher, it was already hard to see where Thompson would fit in a potentially crowded group of wide receivers. His arrest makes it even harder.
That being said, I’d expect the Ravens to let Thompson’s legal issues play themselves out before they make a decision on his future. Obviously, there will be a lot of eyes on how they’re handling the situations with both Rice and Thompson. Every player is different, every situation is different, but I’d expect the Ravens to be consistent with how they go about their decision-making process.
** Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome seemingly said all the right things in his response to questions about Rice at the NFL scouting combine. He acknowledged the severity of the situation, admitted the video that surfaced following the altercation “doesn’t look good,” and he pledged to let the process “run its course.”
He also repeated head coach John Harbaugh’s comment from a day earlier that the organization “will let the facts determine what the consequences will be.”
That last statement says it all. The Ravens have maintained that at least as things stand, Rice remains part of their plans going forward. However, there figures to be far more evidence that surfaces. Nothing said now by the team really matters. What will matter is their response when perhaps the full video of the altercation between Rice and his fiancée surfaces or when the NFL levels discipline.
If even more damning evidence against Rice comes out, there’s going to be a tremendous amount of public pressure on the Ravens to react. That’s when their words and actions will carry even more significance.
** I wasn’t in Indianapolis for the combine – my colleague, Aaron Wilson was and did a superb job – so I don’t feel comfortable opining on the winners and losers of the week and how that affects the Ravens. The draft also is nearly three months, an eternity in the NFL landscape. I do wonder, however, if Texans A&M; wide receiver Mike Evans, with his impressive performance, assured that he won’t be around when the Ravens pick at 17.
Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, the draft’s top-ranked receiver, certainly won’t be. With the top two receivers off the board, it may make sense for the Ravens to target another big need (offensive line or tight end perhaps) with their first pick and then revisit wide receivers with their second or third selection. Working in their favor, there is plenty of depth at the position.
For those who wonder whether the Ravens could trade up to get in better position to draft either Watkins, Evans or someone else, I highly doubt it. While the Ravens have shown in the past that they won’t hesitate on draft day to move back or forward, this is being billed as one of the deepest drafts in years and I can’t see them sacrificing picks.
For one, they’ll likely only have four picks to deal because league rules prohibit teams from trading compensatory selections. For that reason, it’s probably much more likely that the Ravens would trade back in the first round to gather a few more selections than to move forward.
** How close the San Francisco 49ers are to re-signing pending free agent wide receiver Anquan Boldin remains to be seen. Both ESPN and NFL Network have reported in recent days that Boldin and the 49ers are closing in on a deal. The USA Today, however, reported Sunday that there have been no negotiations yet, though 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has called re-signing Boldin a priority.
What seems pretty obvious is that the fans holding out hope for a Ravens’ reunion with Boldin should probably move on.
By all accounts, Boldin thoroughly enjoyed his first season out in San Francisco and if you are him, why wouldn’t you want to stay? The 49ers have an emerging young quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, a plethora of offensive weapons and they play the type of physical football that Boldin loves. If the 33-year-old wants another Super Bowl ring before he calls it quits, San Francisco would be a good place to stay.