ESPN's Bill Barnwell gave the Baltimore Ravens a C+ for the AFC North offseason report card and I think he's wrong on a couple of fronts. However, I do agree with him that the Ravens did well in stockpiling 11 draft picks during the 2016 NFL Draft and the Ravens could very well get five starters out of it at least in OT Ronnie Stanley, OLB Kamalei Correa, DE Bronson Kaufusi, RB Kenneth Dixon, WR Chris Moore and DT Willie Henry.
I also agree with his analysis about the Ravens wide receiver and tight end position as he explained here:
The issue was fueled by injuries, but by the time the Ravens made it to the end of the 2015 season, they were trotting out the most anonymous group of wide receivers in recent memory. When Kamar Aiken and rookie tight end Maxx Williams are the most pedigreed players in your lineup, that's a serious problem. The Ravens probably didn't foresee their season ending with Ryan Mallett throwing passes to Chris Givens and Chris Matthews, but that's where they ended up.
It would have been foolish for the Ravens to head into 2016 and just assume they would be fine with the players they had. Steve Smith Sr. was on his way to retirement and tore his Achilles at age 35. Dennis Pitta has a career-threatening recurring hip injury. Breshad Perriman was raw coming out of college and is still really a rookie after missing his entire debut season with a PCL injury. Those players are all question marks.
Those are all valid reasons as to why the receivers across the board are questionable. We don't know anything about Perriman, we don't know how well Smith Sr. will be coming off a torn Achilles, we don't know if Aiken is a one year wonder and we don't know if Pitta will back to his old self. Not to mention we don't know if Wallace will return to his old form during his days with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That's all I agree with in terms of what Barnell said.
Now, what Barnwell said about the Ravens salary cap situation is old and tiring. Take a look at this:
The six-year deal Baltimore gave Flacco after the Super Bowl was basically a three-year deal with a guaranteed extension afterward because Flacco's cap hit was jumping from $14.6 million to $28.6 million as part of the deal. The Ravens didn't have much choice, given how much leverage Flacco had after winning the Super Bowl and what little space Baltimore had to work with at the time, but it's a painful contract to deal with now.
Oh really? How painful is Joe Flacco's contract? The Ravens currently have 11 million dollars in salary cap space. In 2018, according to Spotrac.com, the Ravens as it stands now, will have an estimated cap space of 37.4 million dollars. The Ravens will have to extend contracts with players such as C.J. Mosley and Brandon Williams, but that's still 37.4 million dollars available in two years and that isn't even counting cuts that will arrive in the future.
So for all over hype over how Flacco's contract is crippling the team, the Ravens still have 37.4 million dollars to spend on the table two years from now and 11 million dollars in the present. Again, how is that painful? I just don't understand how people lose perspective when discussing Flacco's contract.
Quarterbacks around the league like Sam Bradford and Brock Osweiler are getting paid 18 million dollars a year FOR DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! So Flacco earns 4 million more than them and people are complaining about that? Even though Flacco is a Super Bowl MVP and has more playoff wins under his belt than any other quarterback since he came into the league in 2008?
When it comes to the better quarterbacks in the league, you won't find any making 10 million a year. It is time that people come to grasp with that reality and stop forcing the old tired lines about how Flacco's contract is crippling the team when that couldn't be any further from the truth.
After that, Barnwell goes on to say that the Ravens will miss left guard Kelechi Osemele and went on to say that reason behind his departure was because of the Ravens salary cap issues. Let's just be real here. At this time last year, hardly anyone outside of the state of Maryland knew who Osemele was. But now that he leaves Baltimore and goes to Oakland, he is all of the sudden a hot commodity who people around NFL circles want to talk about. That is funny to me.
Osemele is a good player obviously, but I find it funny why he wasn't getting this kind of hype when he was in Baltimore. On the topic of the salary cap, as it relates to Osemele, the Raiders have him a contract worth 58 million. Even if the Ravens had 30 million in cap space to spend this year, I seriously doubt the Ravens would have given him that kind of money. Just because you have money to spend, doesn't mean you need to spend it.
All in all, I don't agree with the C+ grade for the Ravens offseason. I thought considering the way the draft went, a B at worst would suffice. I would have thought he was on the money if he didn't bring up the Ravens salary cap situation the way he did.
At this point when it comes to the Ravens financial situation, people who don't follow the Ravens closely will believe what they want to believe and blame Flacco whenever the Ravens decide not to spend money on certain areas of the team.