Long story short, the math is against Baltimore putting up another stinker of a season in 2016, despite the playoff-worthy competition in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the AFC North. And as Robert Griffin III and Terrelle Pryor demonstrated Thursday night, the Browns won’t be as smooth a walk in the park as previously anticipated either.
Still, the Ravens must concern themselves only with their own production if they wish to capture the magic of 2009, as Suggs insinuated. Can a running back room of Terrance West and Justin Forsett match Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce’s 1,675 yards and 10 TDs? Will Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman replicate Anquan Boldin and wholesale jerseys and Torrey Smith’s production? Can the Ravens’ defense return to its feared form?
NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock compared Lynch to Flacco last November, while an NFL executive sees another AFC North quarterback in Lynch: Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger.
For Lynch, it’s just one more stop on what has been a busy stretch since his April 6 pro day workout. He visited the Chicago Bears on Tuesday and completes his visit schedule in Baltimore. Prior to that, he embarked upon a whirlwind tour of visits that sent him to seven NFL cities in nine days. He also visited the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs before his pro day.
Don’t expect a miracle-worker, though, because Wallace was a disappointment in Minnesota. Hauling in just 39 grabs for 473 yards and two touchdowns, he cracked 60 yards receiving just twice in 2015. Wallace also slumped hard during a stretch from Week 7 to Week 11 that saw him catch only two passes.
As for 2016, Wallace has a chance to produce in Baltimore’s Joe Flacco-led offense beside Steve Smith, Jr., Kamar Aiken and second-year pass-catcher Breshad Perriman. Still, don’t rule out the Ravens mining the draft for another weapon — they can use more help.
“I look at all that stuff a lot. I believe, every team is different, but I like to try and get a sense for league value, how other teams see players,” DeCosta said. “I think mock drafts are sometimes indicative of that. So I think that’s something you should pay attention to.”
Only time will tell — the NFL draft will be held in Chicago April 28-30 — if mock drafts are on target regarding the Ravens’ plans with the No. 6 overall pick. Jeremiah has the Ravens taking versatile Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, as does Brooks. Davis projects the club to draft Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, while analyst Lance Zierlein sees Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa falling to Baltimore.
As the Ravens anxiously await the arrival of rookie Kenneth Dixon, who has yet to take the field thanks to a knee injury toward the end of the preseason, they decided they no longer had the roster space and resources to devote to Forsett, a 30-year-old who emerged from obscurity to pace Baltimore’s offense back in 2014.
The team will not forget his push for a roster spot, nor will they forget the Pro Bowl season he handed them two years ago. But as the Ravens try to keep pace in a bustling AFC North, they know they must get younger and stronger quickly. Forsett also realizes that he doesn’t have much time to sit around and wait.
Re-signing the running back has been alluded to since Forsett was released. The 30-year-old running back was set to make $3 million in 2016. According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, Forsett inked a two-year deal worth $6 million — nearly identical to what was left on his previous deal. Rapoport adds if Forsett eclipses 2015’s rush yards, he’ll receive a $100,000 incentive.
By cutting Forsett, the Ravens were able to carry defensive lineman Carl Davis and safety Matt Elam on their initial 53-man roster. Both Davis and Elam were then put on injured reserve Monday, making them eligible for the one “designated to return” label in the middle of the season (if a player is placed on IR prior to being on the 53-man roster he becomes ineligible for the return designation).