Tuesday's Mailbag: June 11th, 2013

Jacoby Jones celebrates the "Mile-High Miracle" in the Fourth Quarter in the AFC Divisional Round vs. The Denver Broncos. - Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

17 questions are answered about the Ravens including; Ravens Mt. Rushmore, Why Jamarcus Russell, and the Trade Value of Vonta Leach.

Happy Tuesday, Ravens Nation! I hope that everyone is having a terrific day at work, while I hope all the kids are having fun at home since it's summer! I, personally, am out of school and having a great time writing articles for your entertainment! We have many questions today, so let's get started!

Q1: How much dead money do the Ravens have on the roster for this year and who does it belong to?

The Ravens have approximately $11,664,434 of dead money on their roster for 2013.

This money belongs to many people; here are all of the people, the amount of dead money, and the status of the player:

  • LB Ray Lewis -- $2,950,000 -- Retired
  • K Billy Cundiff -- $1,800,000 -- Released
  • WR Anquan Boldin -- $1,531,250 -- Traded
  • C Matt Birk -- $1,400,000 -- Retired
  • S Bernard Pollard -- $3,250,000 -- Released
  • G Bobbie Williams -- $400,000 -- Released
  • LB Brendon Ayanbadejo -- $266,667 -- Released
  • RB Anthony Allen -- $25,178 -- Dead Money
  • NT Nick Jean-Baptiste -- $3,334 -- Dead Money
  • NT Ishmaa'ily Kitchen -- $3,334 -- Dead Money
  • OL Jack Cornell -- $2,667 -- Dead Money
  • G Antoine McClain -- $2,667 -- Dead Money
  • S Cyhl Quarles -- $2,667 -- Dead Money
  • QB John Brantley -- $2,000 -- Dead Money
  • WR Dorian Graham -- $2,000 -- Dead Money
  • WR Devin Goda -- $1,667 -- Dead Money
  • DE Terrence Moore -- $1,667 -- Dead Money
  • DT Elliott Henigan -- $1,334 -- Dead Money
  • RB Bobby Rainey -- $1,000 -- Dead Money
  • S Omar Brown -- $667 -- Dead Money
  • QB Nathan Stanley -- $4,000 -- Released
  • RB Ray Holley -- $3,000 -- Released
  • DE Michael McAdoo -- $1,668 -- Released
  • C Jeff Braun -- $1,500 -- Released
  • TE Murphy Holloway -- $1,500 -- Released
  • CB Jose Cheeseborough -- $1,000 -- Released
  • WR Gerrard Sheppard -- $1,000 -- Released

Source

As you can see, S Bernard Pollard is the main source of Dead Money involved in the 2013 Salary Cap. Pollard is now a member of the Tennessee Titans.

(UPDATE: Due to the release of FB Vonta Leach earlier this morning, this number will most likely be different. I will try and find how much dead money we'll have because of Leach, and I will update this article with the correct amount.)

Q2: What do you consider to be the biggest position of weakness on the team and why?

I think the weakest position on the team is the cornerback position.

Our three projected starters at CB are: Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, and Corey Graham.

When you look at these three guys, what do you see?

Lardarius Webb:

  • A great leader.
  • One of the best at his position.
  • Knows how to play the position with perfection.
  • Coming off of a TORN ACL.
Jimmy Smith:

  • Not a large leader.
  • Alright in coverage.
  • A decent tackler.
  • A YOUNG, DEVELOPING corner.
Corey Graham:

  • Not a large leader.
  • Good at reading the QB.
  • Plays well in crucial moments.
  • Newer to the RAVENS system of play.
The last bullet in italics for each player is one of their downfalls. We have three terrific CB's listed there, but one is coming off of a torn ACL and the other two are not 100% reliable. We will just have to see how much they all develop over this off-season and see if they all play their roles well once the season starts.

Q3: Who do you think is the biggest competition in the AFC and why?

I am going to change the question a little bit. I am going to say the biggest competitor for the Ravens in each division, and then I will say which of the four remaining teams is the largest competitor in the AFC.

  • AFC South -- Houston Texans: The Indianapolis colts may beg to differ with this, but I think it's spot on. The Houston Texans are the most complete team in the AFC South, as they have a magnificent defense, a Pro-Bowl running-back, and a talented wide-receiver corps.
  • AFC East -- New England Patriots: The Dolphins have a chance to give the Patriots a run for their money, but I still think the Patriots will emerge as the biggest competitor in the division. The Patriots may not have Welker, but they still have a few good wide-receivers, the best quarterback in the league, and a defense that may not be dominant, but it can still stop offenses.
  • AFC West -- Denver Broncos: Obviously the Broncos will win their division, as the Chargers, Chiefs, and Raiders will most likely continue to struggle. The Broncos have Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, and Von Miller. That's all I really need to say.
  • AFC North -- Cincinnati Bengals: This was a tough one, but the Bengals will be the Ravens' biggest competition in the AFC North. The Browns look like they will continue their losing ways, while the Steelers have lost guys like Mike Wallace and James Harrison, two important members of their team. The Bengals have a young team, a defense that isn't too bad, and an offense that loves to go to their most talented wide-receiver: A.J. Green.
Now, it's time for the biggest competitor in the AFC. Let's put this in Tournament form. It will be East vs. West and North vs. South.

East vs. West- The New England Patriots vs. The Denver Broncos: The Broncos and Patriots were two dominant teams in 2012, but will they continue to be? Oddly enough, the Ravens defeated both of these teams in the playoffs, and they will be playing them both this year. The Patriots have lost Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, two of Brady's top targets. The Patriots will also have to deal with the health issues of tight-end Rob Gronkowski. With the Broncos having a better receiving corps, a better defense, and a better team overall, it seems like the Broncos win this match-up.

North vs. South- The Houston Texans vs. The Cincinnati Bengals: Whoa, haven't we heard that before? Yes, we have. These two teams have played each other the past two years in the Wildcard Round of the NFL Playoffs. The Texans have won both times, but will it be different this season? Unfortunately for the Bengals, no. The Texans seem to be too dominant, especially with players like Andre Johnson, J.J. Watt, and Arian Foster. Sorry, Cincy, but you will probably lose to the Ravens in the AFC North, anyway.


The Championship- The Denver Broncos vs. The Houston Texans: Both of these teams are very talented, they both have Pro-Bowl players, and they both have prolific overall teams, but who is the biggest competition in the AFC? Truthfully, it looks to me like the Denver Broncos, once again. The Broncos have the better quarterback, the better receiving corps, and the better coaching staff (barely.) The Texans have a better defense and a better running back, but that isn't enough to match-up with the Denver Broncos.

So, it seems like the Broncos will be the Ravens' biggest problem again this season. We'll see you Week 1, Denver. But for now, just remember that we beat you guys in one of the greatest games ever: The Mile-High Miracle.

Q4: Which CB will play inside to cover the slot receiver in a nickel formation: Lardarius Webb or Corey Graham?

Corey Graham.

I say this mostly because of Webb and what he does on the outside. Webb is a speedy guy that, when he was healthy, could keep up with the fast WR's. Webb should be covering the opponent's best receiver, no matter if they are a slot receiver or a wide-out.

Although, Webb was dangerous on the inside vs. opponents this past season. It really depends on who the teams are, and what the receivers look like. For example: versus Denver, Webb would play on the inside to cover Welker, to keep Welker from catching the ball and being dangerous, since he is a small, fast receiver in the slot.

Graham will play the slot receiver more than Webb, as long as the opponent's best WR is a deep-ball, outside kind of guy.

Q5: What will Ray Lewis be doing post-Ravens?

If this question would have been asked before we won the Super Bowl this year, I would have definitely said that he would become a Ravens coach of some sort, since he knows the game so well and he is such a great motivator. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen.

Ray Lewis will first tackle Mount Kilimanjaro later this month. He will climb the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, as he attempts to raise money for the awareness of clean water projects in East Africa.

After he climbs the 19,341 foot mountain, Ray Lewis will then appear on television. Ray Lewis, according to ESPN, will begin to appear on "Monday Night Countdown", "Sunday NFL Countdown", and "SportsCenter." Lewis will also travel to the sight of the Monday Night Football game, to provide stories and analysis of the upcoming game. Lewis will also have his own segment on ESPN's top radio show, "Mike and Mike in the Morning."

This seems like a very fun thing for Ray Lewis, and I am glad to see him having a good life after going out a champion! Good luck on your trip AND your new job, RL52!

Q6: After the failed negotiations with Vonta Leach, do you think they'll be able to trade him for a position of need? If so, who do you think they'll get for him?

In today's NFL, it is very hard to trade fullbacks, since there is hardly any need for them anymore. The only reason I think we could trade him, is because he is undoubtedly the best fullback in the league, and he practically helped build Ray Rice.

If the Ravens were able to trade him, I see them getting a draft pick for him, 6th or 7th round, OR possibly somebody like WR Nate Washington from the Tennessee Titans. If the Titans were to do this, it could give the Ravens a young, decent receiver to build off of, but who knows if it'll happen.

Another situation would be for the Ravens to release him to get money to sign WR Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd is a young, dynamic receiver that would work well in the Baltimore Ravens' offense. A lot of Ravens fans seem to like the idea of grabbing Lloyd, so this could be the perfect situation to get enough money for him.

Whatever the outcome is, it will be very sad to see Leach go, as he was a very good teammate, along with a very fun player to watch. No matter what happens, Vonta Leach will always be a strong part of the Ravens' heart and he will be missed greatly. Ravens Nation loves you, Vonta!

Let's say it one last time together. 3...2...1... LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAACH!

(UPDATE: The Ravens released FB Vonta Leach earlier this morning, meaning they will not be trading him. They have re-signed TE Billy Bajema. Ozzie Newsome says that he may want to bring Leach back before or during training camp.)


Q7: Is it crucial that Lardarius Webb comes back and performs at the level he did prior to his injury?

In my opinion, yes. Very.

Like I mentioned earlier in the article, the CB position is the weakest on the team in my eyes. Since this is true, Webb will need to be the leader of the CB's, who leads on and off the field, not just with words, but with his play too.

Webb might not be 100% by Week 1, but I would imagine that he would become the same old Webby that we're used to seeing by Week 3 or 4. Webb is one of the top corners in the NFL, and the Ravens need him to produce tackles, interceptions, and pass disruptions.

Q8: Ravens 2014 cap situation, with the 2014 draftees?

According to this website, the Ravens would be spending $115,348,759 in 2014.

The website does not really state the health of the Ravens cap with some of the new additions, possible releases, and how much the 2014 draftees will be paid. Either way, the Ravens can expect $1,500,000 in dead money, due to Bernard Pollard.

Q9: What do you think the Ravens will do at the wide receiver position?

I get a question about the WR's almost every week, as they are a definite hot topic right now.

It's obvious that Torrey Smith will most likely be our #1 WR, while Jacoby Jones will be either #2 or #3.

The Ravens seem to be looking at guys like Deonte Thompson and Tandon Doss to be the two possible starters at the #2 or #3 position. Now, one thing that could happen is acquiring a WR via free agency.

One thing that Ravens fans are talking about, is getting either Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz, who are currently unsigned restricted Free Agents on the New York Giants. Nicks, according to the New York Daily News, is expected to show up at mandatory mini-camp on Tuesday. Cruz, however, doesn't have to show up, and he hasn't shown any signs that he will. If Cruz doesn't sign his tender by June 17th, the Giants can slash his tender offer down to $630,000, which would spell trouble for the two sides.

There is a small chance that the Ravens will get Cruz or Nicks, no matter how much fans would love it.

Q10: Why are the Ravens thinking of signing QB Jamarcus Russell?

This is a very hard question for me to answer, since I don't agree with the possible signing at all. I don't see a good reason to sign him, since we would have no use for him.

The Ravens, on the other hand, may feel like Russell is a better backup QB than Caleb Hanie and Tyrod Taylor. Russell has a Flacco-like play style, unlike Tyrod Taylor.

It seems like the Ravens just want to bring him in to see what he can do as a backup, but this could also show that Ozzie and Coach Harbaugh aren't completely confident in Taylor and Hanie to run the offense if Flacco gets hurt.

If the Ravens do end up signing him, we'll see what the coaches' plan is for the 27-year old quarterback.

Q11: When we open up in the Mile-High City, who will be our #2 WR behind Torrey Smith?

This is still an ongoing debate, who will be the WR's behind Smith? According to you, Jacoby Jones will be the #3 receiver, I'm assuming, so you're looking for another guy to be the #2.

As long as the Ravens don't acquire Brandon Lloyd or another free agent WR, Deonte Thompson is my favorite to start. Thompson is fast, big, and he can do some damage to opposing defenses if given the chance. Lately, Thompson has emerged as the favorite for the starting spot, especially for his speed, which puts him as the fastest guy on the team, a very hard thing to be when Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are on your team.

Whoever the starters are, I see the Ravens' receiving corps being impressive and talented, just as they were last season.

Q12: Do you think that Daryl Smith and Arthur Brown are the answers at ILB? If not, who else will step up or what other LB will we sign?

I think the Ravens will be just fine with Daryl Smith and Arthur Brown running the ILB position. Both of these guys are talented, and I don't see anyone taking their spot.

I also don't see the Ravens signing another LB. I don't think we have a need for one, especially with how many great, young guys we have gotten in the off-season. I think our next position to sign someone will be at WR, but that's not the point. The point is, the Ravens' defense should still be fine with these two players at ILB.

I am excited to see our defense at work.

Q13: Will our defense be better this season than it was last season?

I definitely think it will be. Last season, we had so many guys injured. We had: Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb, and Jameel McClain all out with bad injuries last season. This season, Suggs is healthy, Webb is recovering greatly, and McClain is almost fully recovered.

Also, we have gotten much younger this year. Last year we had guys like Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, and Bernard Pollard, when now we have guys like Matt Elam, Chris Canty, Elvis Dumervil, Marcus Spears, Daryl Smith, Arthur Brown, etc.

The defense this year will be hard-hitting, fast, athletic, young, and talented. I think we'll have much more fun watching this year's defense than we did last year's, even though Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone.

Q14: Who will be the leader now that Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone?

It seems to me like Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are going to be the leaders on the defense this year. Dumervil is already showing leadership skills, while Suggs has been known to rile up the team and motivate them with some of the speeches he makes.

Also, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti told Joe Flacco that he was the leader of the team now, which is something we have all been waiting for. Flacco was never real vocal, as it seems he may get the motivation to start leading the team after the comments by Bisciotti.

The leaders on the team will be brand new this year, but it should be fun to watch and fun to witness.

Q15: What are the Ravens realistic chances of defending their title?

I think the Ravens have a great chance at winning the Super Bowl again.

The defense got younger, the offense barely changed, and the coaching staff is still the same. The Ravens have all the tools to be a Super Bowl contender once again. They have a terrific passer, a dangerous pass rush, a Pro-Bowl running back, possible star rookies, a smart head coach, and much more. I don't see any reason why the Ravens won't win the Super Bowl again, even though they lost so many of the key assets of last year's squad.

Also, the competition in the AFC hasn't gotten much better. The Patriots seem to be crumbling, the Bengals are still themselves, the Texans haven't changed, and the Broncos lost a great pass rusher (Elvis Dumervil) and acquiring a WR that dropped the most passes in the league this year.

The Ravens have a large chance at hoisting that Lombardi trophy again next February, and I can't wait for it to happen.

Q16: Will Joe Flacco bring more rushing into his game or will he stick to his normal game?

I don't see there being any way that Flacco incorporates rushing into his game. Joe is going to do what Joe is successful at, and that is running around the pocket, looking for guys deep down the field.

Joe is not going to run, unless he absolutely has to. It won't be a part of his game, since he just isn't a very mobile quarterback. If he does start to run more, I won't like it. I can just picture Joe trying to run, getting hit, and fumbling the ball.

I hope Joe just sticks to what he knows: Laying back and staying cool.

Q17: If you could create a Ravens Mount Rushmore, who would be on it?

I'm going to stick solely to the Ravens. I'm not going to bring the Baltimore Colts into it at all, just the Baltimore Ravens.

If I had to choose four guys to be in the Mount Rushmore, it would be:

  • Ray Lewis- Obviously one of, if not the, greatest linebackers of all-time. Lewis has played every single season in Ravens' existence, and he has done so much for the organization. Lewis has led the Ravens to their two Super Bowl wins, and he is a 13-time Pro-Bowler. This is the OBVIOUS choice for the Greatest Raven of All-Time.
  • Ed Reed- Reed is still active, now playing for the Houston Texans. Reed is known as one of the greatest safeties of all-time, and he is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. Reed has loved the city of Baltimore for 11 years, 9 of which he made the Pro-Bowl. He was the NFL Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 2004, and he will always have a place in the hearts of Ravens fans.
  • Jonathan Ogden- Ogden was inducted into the Hall-of-Fame in 2013, the same year that his former team, the Baltimore Ravens, won the Super Bowl. Ogden was one of the greatest offensive linemen of all-time, and he played 12 seasons in the NFL. In those 12 seasons, he went to 11 Pro Bowls and was a 10-time All-Pro, a pretty impressive record.
  • Derrick Mason- I know, my Derrick Mason obsession continues. Mason was the greatest WR in Ravens' history, as he holds many franchise records. He holds the receiving yards record (5,777) and the receptions record (471) for the Baltimore Ravens. Mason was a two-time Pro-Bowler, but neither appearance occurred when he was a member of the Ravens.
Who would your Ravens Mount Rushmore include?



BONUS QUESTION:

This is a bonus question for the readers here on Baltimore Beatdown. The question was asked by my dad, whom was really joking, but it's not a bad question. I didn't know how to answer it, but you guys might. Here it goes:

BQ1: If the Ravens were a baseball team, who would be the pitcher, 1B, 2B, 3B, and catcher? Also, what would the batting order be?

I know the question is irrelevant to their talent on the field, but it might be a fun question to answer! Have fun, guys! I want to see some answers in the comments!


Anyway, this is the end of Tuesday's Mailbag for this week! This was fun, like always, and I hope you guys had a good time reading it. Remember, we need questions for next week's segment! If you have any, you can put them in the comments below, e-mail them to me at Victorgrayh10@gmail.com, OR tweet them to me @Frezeal33. I am excited to read your responses to the bonus question, your comments about anything else in the article, and your questions for next week! Have a safe and happy rest of the week! I'll see you back here next Tuesday for Tuesday's Mailbag! Goodbye, Ravens Nation!

BREAKING: If anyone cares, you guys will be seeing much more of me here on Baltimore Beatdown. Now, I will not only be writing these articles on Tuesdays at 1:00 PM EST, but I will also be writing an article for both Wednesdays and Fridays at 2:30 PM EST! I am excited, and I hope you are too!




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