As we head closer and closer to the start of OTA's and mini-camp, the Baltimore Ravens find themselves searching the free agent market for players who, despite their age, are still valuable and can contribute to the team in 2017. General Manager Ozzie Newsome has done a good job of bringing in players like inside linebacker Daryl Smith late in free agency to improve the team in the past, and he is certainly not afraid to take a chance on a player who some teams feel are "done".
There have been rumors of a possible Anquan Boldin reunion, and reports of interest on free agents Nick Mangold and Victor Cruz. Both were released by the New York Jets and New York Giants before the start of free agency. Mangold had his only visit with the Ravens last month, while Cruz will visit the Chicago Bears on Monday and is currently set up for a planned visit with the Jacksonville Jaguars and former head coach Tom Coughlin on May 23rd.
Art Stapleton was the one who reported Baltimore's interest in Cruz, and said they are trying to set up a potential upcoming visit. Could that visit come this week, or could something happen with Mangold?
A Twitter account called @MySportsUpdate, which has reported such things as free agent signings and a teams draft pick before its announced, tweeted on Sunday that there is still mutual interest between the Ravens, Cruz, and Mangold. He also says that something could go down this week.
Ravens continue to monitor both Nick Mangold and Victor Cruz. Mutual interest in both. This week could be the week. Stay Tuned.— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) May 15, 2017
If this is right, the question is will it be a visit/signing with one or both of them? Mangold would be interesting considering he went on SiriusXM NFL Radio last week and said that the rehab with his ankle injury he suffered last year was going slow. When he visited the Ravens back in April, the team wanted to see how he checked out medically. Do they decide to give him a second look after his comments on his injury to see for themselves how he is progressing? It may be wise considering the fact that they need a veteran presence along the offensive line, and Newsome will want to be comfortable with signing a 33-year old center who missed eight games in 2016 with that ankle injury.
Cruz however, might be the best bet because his market has picked up as of late. He already has a visit with the Bears on Monday, and since Baltimore and Cruz are reportedly working on a planned visit to the Owings Mills complex, he could be catching a plane on the next flight to Baltimore. That is of course if Cruz leaves the Windy City without a deal. Cruz could be visiting the Bears, Ravens, and Jaguars before weighing in his options on where he wants to go to possibly finish his career. He would have to pick the spot where he would feel more comfortable and a place where he would get more playing time. Jacksonville could be the favorites to land him because of the Coughlin connection.
If this report is true that something, whether it’s a visit or signing, could happen between Cruz and Mangold this week, it will be interesting to see where Baltimore stands on these current players on the free agent market. The team desperately needs help at the wide receiver and center positions of the offense after not addressing them in the early stages of free agency and the draft, a move that has baffled the fans and media. Mangold is the best available option on the offensive line market and the Ravens might feel more comfortable going with Cruz than the other receivers currently looking for jobs, including Boldin. We shall see.