Mike Preston’s Ravens mailbag on contract questions for Roquan Smith and Lamar Jackson, James Proche II’s function and extra | COMMENTARY


Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston will reply followers’ questions all through the Ravens season. With Baltimore coming into a Week 10 bye after defeating the New Orleans Saints, 27-13, on “Monday Night Football,” loads of questions stay earlier than a Week 11 matchup in opposition to the Carolina Panthers.

Here’s Preston’s take:

(Editor’s be aware: Questions have been edited for size and readability.)

Whatever occurred within the locker room at halftime for the Tampa Bay sport should have been one heck of a gathering as a result of the Ravens got here out in second half like another person began calling the performs. Are you assured the teaching workers has lastly seen the sunshine for the remainder of the season now on the best way to assault?

— Paul in Orlando

Preston: Each yr, each staff has to develop its personal id. Regardless of custom or what has occurred in recent times, it takes time to develop one, particularly for the reason that Ravens began the season with out their two high working backs, J. Ok. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, and their Pro Bowl left sort out, Ronnie Stanley. They additionally had a brand new heart in rookie Tyler Linderbaum.

So, realistically, I anticipated the Ravens to be in all places for some time earlier than issues settled down. I feel at halftime of the Tampa Bay sport, the Ravens found out they weren’t going to win with quarterback Lamar Jackson throwing 30 occasions within the first two quarters. Contrary to what coach John Harbaugh stated, the Ravens didn’t go into the sport pondering they have been going to throw that a lot so early. No manner.

Logic has prevailed, and the Ravens are again the place they should be. They have an offense constructed round Jackson and the working sport, they usually wish to restrict Jackson’s passing makes an attempt to extend their probabilities of successful.

Do you assume the Ravens overpaid for inside linebacker Roquan Smith, particularly since they love draft picks? If the Ravens can not signal him to a long-term contract, he’ll develop into a midseason rental. With Lamar Jackson being owed a large contract, and Smith hitting free company on the identical (to not point out different Ravens), how can they presumably fulfill everybody?

— Bob Ok.

Preston: I just like the deal and what Smith has dropped at the Ravens. They are solely paying him $575,000 this season and gave the Chicago Bears second- and fifth-round draft picks. Between now and April’s draft, I’m certain the Ravens will be capable to safe at the very least one other fifth-round decide.


If this deal continues to work out, there is no such thing as a value too excessive for what Smith brings to this staff. Even earlier than he left Georgia, he was referred to as a participant who studied a variety of movie. He has sufficient power to have interaction and get off blocks, in addition to the power to run sideline to sideline. When watching him play in opposition to New Orleans on Monday night time, I preferred the best way he may slide, leverage blocks and get large within the gaps. On one play, he lined Saints star working again Alvin Kamara and made the sort out. The Ravens haven’t had that type of presence in the middle for nearly 10 years.

By the second half, he was aligning the opposite linebackers. This protection has been quick on playmakers for a number of years now. The Ravens have some good gamers, however not that particular participant who makes these round him higher.

If Smith’s efficiency in opposition to New Orleans was an aberration, then I can’t wait to see what he does within the different eight video games.

Do you assume that there’s any risk that the Ravens franchise tag Lamar Jackson to allow them to signal Roquan Smith to a brand new contract?

— Jim Lahman

Preston: I’m certain common supervisor Eric DeCosta thought this out earlier than buying Smith, who’s a pending free agent, and I might assume placing the franchise tag on Jackson is an choice.

To be trustworthy, I’m undecided Jackson wouldn’t thoughts going again to play in his house state of Florida. It’s obvious that neither facet needs to budge off Jackson asking for a totally assured contract, however let’s see how far the Ravens advance within the playoffs this season. That may change the dynamics of the negotiations.

If the Ravens place the unique franchise tag on Jackson, he would make a projected $46 million in 2023, which might put him within the vary of the Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson and the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen so far as common annual wage. That definitely would possibly unlock cash for Smith, however that transfer may not be welcomed in Baltimore.

For those that traveled to New Orleans, did anybody catch what number of followers have been carrying Jackson jerseys? Since the staff moved to Baltimore in 1996, I’ve by no means seen the Ravens have a bigger fan base on the street.

Whether you prefer it or not, Lamar mania is actual.

If the Ravens finally decide that signing Lamar Jackson to a long-term contract will not be an choice, what’s Plan B?

— Alan Robinson

Preston: Plan B and Plan C can be for the Ravens to commerce Jackson. Can that occur? Anything can occur in professional sports activities. Anything.

After the bye week, I imagine the Ravens might want to resolve on Charlie Kolar. If he’s activated/added to the 53-man roster, who do you count on to be the odd man out of the tight finish corps? On the face of it, based mostly on taking part in time thus far this season, one would assume Nick Boyle.

— Paul in Orlando

Preston: Paul, I feel you might be appropriate. Boyle is a favourite of Harbaugh’s and your entire group respects the progress he has made in getting back from a number of main leg accidents, however he was by no means receiver and has misplaced energy as a blocker. That was his forte. Kolar is large and powerful and the Ravens may use him within the working sport.

Starting tight finish Mark Andrews is the highest receiver on the staff and a variety of his accidents are the results of being requested to dam. If Kolar can deal with a few of these assignments, that may assist hold Andrews more healthy.

Do you assume James Proche II may have an even bigger function? You know Harbs has gotta promote his projection that Proche was within the plans all alongside and he’s slated to get extra targets and develop into an even bigger a part of the sport plan.

— Turtle Dove

Preston: Proche and Harbaugh have a bizarre relationship. Sometimes I feel Proche remains to be round as a result of he’s protected by DeCosta, who drafted him within the sixth spherical in 2020. I’ve all the time preferred the child. He doesn’t have nice velocity, however has sufficient suddenness to get a one- or two-step benefit in opposition to a defender moving into or popping out of a break. He may need one of the best arms on the staff.

But Harbaugh coaches and sees Proche each day, and there is perhaps one thing we’re lacking. If he leaves Baltimore, I nonetheless assume he could possibly be match as a slot receiver for lots of groups, particularly the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Rams. But right here in Baltimore, Proche is like No. 4 choice behind Andrews, Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman — when Bateman is wholesome.

If Proche helps the Ravens within the second half of the season, it might not be a shock to me.

As we face the bye week and a softer schedule looming, what are the highest 1-2 areas that the Ravens actually need to enhance with a purpose to maximize their probabilities of making it to the massive dance? Include play calling, use of particular gamers, areas the place we nonetheless need assistance (e.g., extensive receiver, and so forth). You have the magic wand, Mike, so what do you do?

— Mike

Preston: Mike, I’m planning on writing about that both Monday or Tuesday subsequent week. You received’t be stunned, however tune in anyway. I’ll be waving the wand.

Have a query for Preston? Email sports [email protected] with the “Ravens mailbag” within the topic line they usually could possibly be answered in The Sun.



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