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Having a tough talk with J.K. Dobbins


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The strange and mysterious absence of Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins last week in Owings Mills overshadowed a lot of the work the men of John Harbaugh were putting in on the field. Luke Jones and Nestor try to make sense of the future of the disgruntled running back and the angst of all in his underappreciated position.


dobbins, ravens, lamar, jk, playing, pay, running backs, rookie contract, talking, season, running, contract, field, giving, put, year, agent, game, ray rice, nfl


Luke Jones, Nestor Aparicio

Nestor Aparicio  00:01

Looking back and W n s t, Tasha Baltimore, Baltimore positive or positively back out on the beat here this week despite the fact that the football operations have shut down and Owings Mills for a couple of weeks. We’re gonna be out to win a Maryland crabcake tour on Thursday at spirits West. That’s over Wilkins. I’ll have some St. Joe folks over there and some st Agnes friends right around the corner for us to get the shrimp salad cubbies so well we’re looking forward to get a crab cake. It’s spirits West. That’s all brought to you by the Maryland lottery of Maryland lottery scratch off tickets to give away if I can find them here. I’ve been away a couple of days. So I gotta I gotta pull them out. There it is right there. I’ll be giving these away on Thursday as well as our friends at Goodwill. I have my my fun goodwill hat here. Can I put this over my eye and sort of hide my face? Look, Jones joins us now. He was not in the window nation floppy hat. Last week out? No, he’s Mills put a sun drenched practice session. All was well out there except that they’re running back didn’t show up. Right?


Luke Jones  00:58

Yeah, well, I mean, JK Dobbins showed up. He was in the building. Multiple reporters spotted him at different times over the course of the three day mini camp, but he did not take part and there had been some early indications in the week that maybe he was dealing with some kind of soft tissue issue. As John Harbaugh like sale though he did not say that, but there were some reports about that. And, you know, he did a Dobbins did an interview with Mark Viviano and really alluded to strongly the idea of him being deset dissatisfied with his contract situation, which he has mentioned on Twitter before. And when John Harbaugh was asked about Dobbins absence from the practice field, over the course of the three days, he kind of gave it an answer of I thought he’d be out there, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards. So look, it is what it is, from the standpoint of I can understand JK Dobbins in a contract here. And his plight, his angst, given what we see of the landscape of running backs in the NFL, with Dalvin, cook, having been released recently being a prime example of that, but I’m just not sure what he can really expect.

Nestor Aparicio  02:12

With him, what is what does he really believe? Like? I mean, is he on a different planet that everybody wants to get paid based on?

Luke Jones  02:21

I mean, he wants to get paid, based on the fact that he’s averaged six yards of carry when he’s been healthy. I mean, it’s it doesn’t take a whole lot to figure out what he wants. Now, the reality of that is if you’re the Baltimore Ravens, you’re looking at how little he has played over the last two years and understanding that it’s all stemming from a major knee injury and the preseason finale a couple years ago. But if you’re the ravens, you want to see him put together a full even if it’s not 17 games, how about 15? Now, right? I mean, something that resembles a full season before you’re going to commit and and then the question becomes, even then, how much are you willing to commit because we are seeing this time and time and time again. And you know, the Aaron Schatz is of the world and football analytics. People have told you for years that running backs don’t matter. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that mentality. But I will say this, I don’t think running backs matter as much as offensive line play when it comes to your running game. Or in the case of the ravens, the presence of Lamar Jackson, as far as how important your running game is. So from that standpoint, even if you’re the ravens, and look the Ravens like JK Dobbins, again, look at the numbers when he’s been healthy. He’s been fantastic. But that’s a major caveat to begin with. And then to you look at it and say, okay, he’s been really good, but how long will that continue? And I think that’s where, if you’re the Ravens go back and look at Ray Rice, putting aside the legal domestic domestic element to it of what happened. But Jake are up Ray Rice was wildly productive over the course of his rookie contract. The Ravens franchised him the Ravens gave him a long term deal and roughly a year into it. They didn’t express this but they absolutely had buyer’s remorse and that’s even before what happened off the field that led to ultimately him being released. So I think and you look at these situations with these running backs, and this isn’t a Dobbins thing, even though the injury is another major variable to consider here, but you just look at so many different running backs and everyone that’s paid a running back in recent years. What do they always say? Yeah, we get it that you really shouldn’t pay running backs But our guys different. Carolina did that with Christian McCaffrey, the Cowboys did that with Ezekiel Elliott, you know, go down the list, as well as using draft

Nestor Aparicio  04:47


capital. Put that in there too. Well, I remember.

Luke Jones  04:50

Right, but that’s not even that’s not even the issue as much for me because all of these individuals that we mentioned that we’re talking about that end up getting paid, say Quan Barkley, put They weren’t worth it, they were worth it from a draft pick standpoint, they lived up to their rookie contract and exceeded it. The problem is, you get all that surplus value over the course of the rookie contract. And you know what you’re doing. When you pay a running back lucrative money, you are giving all that surplus value back and all that value you gained over the course of that rookie contract, you are just handing that right back because you ultimately you’re going to pay running back for most likely what he already did, rather than what he’s going to do over the course of that deal. So this is the reality of Dobbins or any running back at this point in time. And I think it’s tough. Dennis and I have talked about this a lot on his show of looking at running backs, even looking at their workload at the college level, and how that factors in and so many of these running backs just don’t have a very long shelf life to be over the top. Really, really good in terms of their production, generally speaking, you pay them and a year or two later, you’re saying I probably shouldn’t have done that, and then you’re trying to get out of the deal. So if you’re the Ravens from that perspective, even putting aside the knee for Dobbins, that’s where you look at this and say, Okay, we’d like to keep them. Sure. You know, I’m not opposed to the Ravens resigning. JK Dobbins. But what’s the cost? What’s the realistic price? It’s going to be? I’m guessing it’s probably a lot less than what he’s asking for at this point in time. Who’s

Nestor Aparicio  06:25

given that money? The lions? I mean? Yeah,

Luke Jones  06:28

I mean, it’s tough. I mean, you’ll still find some teams that’ll pay a running back. But I feel like that’s, you know, those teams are few and far between. And it’s only getting worse for running back. So I empathize with a Dobbins or with a Dalvin Cook, or go down the list of all these different guys who’ve either been cast aside or cut after a couple of years, or in the case of McCaffrey traded to San Francisco. But at the same time you look at the production and say, No, I don’t think it’s a good investment. Yeah, it’s just one of those positions that for the most part. Yeah. People right listening right now who are disagreeing will say, Adrian Peterson or Frank Gore. Those are outliers compared to what we’re seeing be the norm in this day and age. And, you know, one thing that was a red flag for Ray Rice and his longevity again, putting aside the, the off the field, was, look how many carries he added rockers, you know, yeah, I think it was 900 carries at Rutgers over a three year period, something along those lines a lot, a whole lot. And you look at that, and you just say that counts, know that. That’s the tread on the tires that there’s somewhere there just before they even get to the NFL, let alone talking about playing out a full rookie contract and then extending someone. So in the case of Dobbins, it’s gonna be book it’s gonna be interesting to see how at least the start of training camp plays out. You know, he’s, he’s entitled to do what he wants to do. He skipped OTAs. And, yeah, I guess maybe for lack of a better term. We don’t know this, for sure. But all signs point to this being kind of a hold in situation, not a hold out where he showed up, but basically said, you know, I’m not ready to practice or I’m not going to practice or whatever. Again, we’re speculating here, but look at connecting all the dots. You know, it looks and feels that way. So how is it going to play out but if again, if you’re the ravens, look, I’m not opposed to resigning JK Dobbins, but what I’m giving him probably compared to what he wants is probably not even close at this point. So I think from that standpoint, if you’re Dobbins if you’re his agent, come in and have a great training camp and get ready to have a great season because


Nestor Aparicio  08:40

he couldn’t run last week. Are you convinced he had a he had a tweak? Or do are you convinced that with this was contractual, which is?

Luke Jones  08:48

Oh my My opinion on it is it was contractual? Okay. I don’t know that. And he hasn’t said they’re standing out looking into his eyes. You know, I

Nestor Aparicio  08:56

mean, I, when I was out there this time, last year, the last time I went to a practice, I’ll never forget, this was the last time I was ever out there. Right. Lamar was there. It was this week, a year ago, and Dobbins was in the gym, screaming at reporters screaming at the field about how he wanted to get back out there. And, you know, like all that, here’s where I am with him and his agent and when they get together and like what is good behavior, what is bad behavior, what’s going to get you what you want. I am all lost on all this. After Lamar Athan for a year and a half that he got everything he wanted, and behaved in any way that he felt like he wanted to behave right and didn’t play in November, December and still got paid. So Dobbins has seen all of this. And Dobbins has seen a $15 million rental wide receiver come in and everybody’s gonna get thrown the ball except him and in reality, he’s going to be the mule, right? In reality, in reality, he’s might touch the ball more than any of them. And that might really be their plan is to run him like a mule this year, because maybe he’s healthy enough to be a mule that cheer and be a 1400 yard back. And maybe Lamar only really runs six or eight times a game instead of trying to set records and running into linebackers. 20 ones I mean, I don’t know, but I would think he thinks he’s gonna be a mule this year and be underpaid for it. Well,

Luke Jones  10:18


I think he certainly wasn’t. I mean, it was evident after the season ending playoff loss at Cincinnati. I mean, if you recall at the time, JK Dobbins spoken in the postgame locker room and was not happy about how he was used in that game. So

Nestor Aparicio  10:32

he’s unhappy, he’s always unhappy. If I’m Eric de Costa, I would just say he’s unhappy. He’s, he’s unhappy when he’s playing when he’s not playing. He’ll be unhappy when he goes plays for the bears next year or wherever. Like, because that’s this. It’s absurd to that we’re sitting here this week, talking about the running back not showing up the running back. He’s been nothing but hurt. And I don’t I, I shake my head and I bristle at this. If I’m if I’m playing the column, this nasty Nester guy, I’m probably not being real nice to JK Dobbins right now and saying, Get a grown up for an agent or get some better advice, but get in line and fall in line or you’ll be out of line, you know, and if they can’t rely on you, they’re not going to give you the ball at all. And they brought all these other guys in the past and around and you haven’t really been reliable dude. Like, he needs a tough talk. Because what he needs he does. I

Luke Jones  11:24

think you’re being a little too harsh on the injury element. He suffered a terrible knee injury. I mean, this was an ACL. You can’t come back into yoga you understood. But you’re but you’re but you’re framing it as though he’s had hamstrings and all these different things like that. It’s he’s not been that guy. He he this all stems from the drinking to

Nestor Aparicio  11:43

get on the field. Like I watched him a half gallop when he probably shouldn’t have been out there. I mean, I’m not disputing it. But this technique that he thinks he’s using it, it doesn’t smell good in any universe. There’s no NFL team, there’s no NFL fan. There’s no NFL media person, there’s no one with a Dobbins jersey, that would say, well, let’s just go pay him because he’s a nice guy. And because we’re gonna use him as a mule this year. And who even knows if he can be used as a mule? He’s never been used. He’s never proven anything in this league for me to think he’s gonna get paid. I mean, like, that’s the part. You were negotiating for Lamar Jackson, based on 2019. And you did that for three years here. You can’t even do that with him.


Luke Jones  12:28

Yeah, I mean, look, I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. I was just

Nestor Aparicio  12:32

saying rant when I’m on vacation for and running back doesn’t show up. And the guy that runs their PR wouldn’t let me in any way to ask questions. I’m looking at this on the outside as a former PSL holder, and saying, WTF like come on, dude. I mean, the world has changed out there. You know what I mean? Like just a general sense for how all of its handled and watching it now from the outside. It’s comical. It’s comical, and I pay you to be there and ask questions. But it’s like, really, this is your running back stance on June 15. With the seasons getting ready to start the running back. He’s proven nothing as everything to prove, and this year could go out and win a Super Bowl and then earn earn a paycheck. If he goes out and runs for 14 yards, and they win 15 games, and he’s healthy and spiking the ball and scoring touchdowns in Cincinnati and dancing in the endzone at January 18. Beaten Joe burrow. Yeah, that now you got a guy that you gotta give 2030 $40 million? Maybe, maybe, maybe? I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know where all the money’s coming from because Lamar is gonna have it all. In the end, two years from now, three years from now, we’re gonna be talking about good players leaving because they’re not gonna be able to afford them.

Luke Jones  13:48

Well, and that’s that’s certainly a massive element to this. But what you just said is he’s going to be in line for that payday, whether it’s with the Ravens or someone else at that point in time, Patrick queen got on the boat, right? Yeah, exactly. I mean, and that’s, you know, that’s the interesting juxtaposition here where Patrick queen doesn’t get the fifth year option, the Ravens all but broadcasts that they draft his replacement, you know, when they take Trent and Simpson in the third round, and obviously they paid row Quan Smith, Patrick, queen, Look, is there some scenario where he winds up staying in Baltimore shore, but anything short of him having, you know, the scenarios for that are, he has an injury Mart season, he doesn’t have the best season and he’s suddenly not finding himself in high demand. If he has a strong season. And this is something you just laid out with Dobbins. someone’s paying him. It’s not gonna be the ravens, but he’ll get paid very handsomely and the Ravens will say, hey, we’ll take our fourth round comp pick in 2025. I guess it would be

Nestor Aparicio  14:50


the levy on Bell roll when you’re not levy on Bell. It’s, it’s odd. It just no question of him not having grown ups around him. And that’s an issue for all All of these people, I mean for all these kids not having chats deal than have grown ups around so like, I mean from from an integrity, accountability of the way things should be run, and the way agents would tell players what to really expect and what to do and not do and be respected in a way that they can conduct business because this isn’t good for JK, I’m convinced Lamar is antics in general, and his health and his demands and his style of play. Some people would say his race contributed and I don’t think that’s the case with Arthur Blank, or with Jim or se, or with the suitors that all lined up to chase Deshaun Watson around, but there does come a point where like, you want to the player to be the business he perceives himself to be, you know, I am a business right, I’m a running back. I’m a brand I you know, I’m all of that, well, then be responsible to the people around you, fiduciary responsibility of your agent at different people to maximize your value by taking good advice. I can’t, I can’t imagine any legitimate agent saying to him, do don’t go out there and practice this week and go pitch to the media and pull Viviana up and go say something cross eyed to him and have Nestor and Luke make you the centerpiece of their conversation the week after mini camp. That’s good for you. JK. I mean, I bet that’s where the grown up part of this. It’s just it blew my mind to be away from it and watching it and thinking if I’m in it, it’s it’s a bunch of it’s a bunch of adolescents who aren’t being indoctrinated into. Dude, you’ve been hurt. It’s the NFL. It’s not for long. Like all these things you’ve been hearing, go out there and prove yourself like queens to win on the if you don’t have to look hard for examples around around the game to say go do this and then that good thing will happen for you. JK Dobbins isn’t an is he’s still a might be Yeah. Ray Rice was it is?

Luke Jones  16:55

I don’t disagree. I don’t disagree. I mean, look, I know you look at the numbers, and they’re fantastic. And you’re having a guy who when he when he’s been on the field has averaged hair under six yards of carry. I mean, it’s really impressive, but at the same time, that’s it’s still a relatively small sample size, especially over the last two years. So that is where it’s tough. Look, if this were a case of Dobbins took part in mini camp, and we were only talking about ot him skipping OTAs, I don’t care about that, you know, that’s plenty of guys, even on rookie contracts, when they get to the final year of their rookie deal. Plenty of guys have skipped out on OTAs. It’s really not the end of the world. And we’ve talked about that. How Lamar and quarterbacks are a special case there. But we’ve seen plenty of players in a contract year, not show up for the voluntary part. But when you’re there for mandatory minicamp and again, he was in the building, let’s be clear, let’s be factual about this. But he wasn’t taking part. And we don’t know for sure. He did not state directly that he was holding in so to speak. You can’t expect the coach to be honest when you ask them a question. Sure, sure. But you know, but but that’s where you look at this and say, yeah, it was that something. Think about it every time you skip something, every time you hold out or every time you make a decision to participate in a certain element. You know, whether you’re a franchise player, whether you’re in your contract, you’re whether you’re someone who’s under contract and wants their deal ridden, we see these, we see these situations all the time, it is a business, right? You always think about okay, what can I do, that’s going to help me solve that problem. And for the life of me, I look at Dobbins and say other than just the pure injury risk of being out on the field, but it’s the same kind of risk, you’re gonna take doing any of your workouts, you know, at home or across the country, or in Owings Mills, whatever it is, every time you do something physical, there’s an there’s an injury element, right? We’ve seen guys get hurt just doing agility drills. We saw Terrell Suggs, tears, Achilles playing basketball years ago, although tried to withhold the truth about that. But I just look at the situation and say, the JK Dobbins if in fact this was truly all about his contract, and he decided not to take part in mini camp. Did he help his cause at all in getting his contract? No, no. And again, if it’s if it’s as simple as him saying, I didn’t want to risk injury being out there for a three day mini camp when it’s not that consequential to the regular season. I’ll hear that I guess to a point. But again, do I think it helped his calls at all as it pertains to negotiating with the Ravens? No, I don’t because I still think it comes down to this at the end of the day. And maybe this is where Dobbins privately says this with his agent or whoever’s advising him and saying, Look, they’re not there’s no circumstance right now where they’re giving me what I want before this season anyway, so I am going to make a business decision and not take part and I’ll show up so I’m not gonna get fined, but I’m not going to practice these three days and you If that’s the case, fine, but ultimately this is going to come back back to another thing

Nestor Aparicio  20:03

where they tell these guys to go out and play on artificial turf in August meaningless games, which is how he ripped his knee up to begin with. So I’m sure he’s got a lot of pissed about him. Well, anyway, I had pissed about the bug that flew in my eye over weekend, and, you know, put me into clinic. You know what I mean? Like, right, bad luck sucks. I mean, it’s.

Luke Jones  20:19

And again, you just mentioning that I mean that. I think a lot of this does stem from that he played in the preseason. It wrecked his life. It really did. So does he have some harsh? Not even harsh? Does he have some understandable? Anger about that? Probably, no. I mean, he’s, he’s hinted about it playing in the preseason and all that, but it still comes down to this is very simple for him. He needs to do whatever he can to have the best possible season in 2023. And that will help his cause whether it’s getting a big contract with the ravens, or identifying another team, it’s going to pay him. So really, it still boils down to that. Do I think this is a big deal in the big picture? Not really? Do I think it was a great look for him? Not really, because it does. All signs do point to this being something that was about his contract? And, look, he made a business decision, he showed up so he wouldn’t get fined, but didn’t take the field with his teammates, you know, how’s that going to be perceived? You know, that, that? I guess that’s a question for the locker room, but in the grand scheme of things, as long as he’s there for the start of training camp and getting ready to have a great season because, hey, the ravens, I don’t think they necessarily need him to be there, Bell cow, because they they do have Gus Edwards and they still have Lamar who’s still gonna run the ball at least some even if it’s not as much as it used to be pistols. Everybody in the organization will you know, come and practice in June,


Nestor Aparicio  21:45

I now pissed tar ball was at Lamar last year because he sent me text and he was pissed. So, you know, like, the coaches don’t they work hard all night, every day to have you come out and put you in a position to win and when you’re not there to help them. It pisses them off, and they don’t get that. And coaches.

Luke Jones  22:04

I mean, coaches always feel that way. So I don’t I only take that to a point you know what you say I agree with, but it’s to an extent because coaches want his body right. They want everyone there for every single every single thing starting at April all the way through the end of the season. So that’s just how coaches are wired. But I do think it’s a little bit different when you’re talking about we’ve used Patrick queen as a great example here, right similar position, same draft class, both of them entering the final year, their deal, Patrick queen has been far more durable. He has been, you know, up and down his first couple years but coming off of his best season. So there is an example of guys are looking around are there for mandatory minicamp all the veterans are out on the field taking part and Dobbins isn’t there. And, look, if he truly did have a soft tissue injury, then fine. Yeah, of course, you don’t want to push it. But if it is a case where you’re making much more of a business’s decision for something that’s mandatory, and all your teammates have to be out there, they’ll take notice of that now, guys still respect each other, you know, they don’t reach into someone else’s wallet, they’re not going to talk about someone else’s money. They understand that but at the same time they say wait a second here. I have to be out here why isn’t he out here? So is there some of that that goes on short do I think it creates this major rift in the locker room that’s gonna be a problem? No, I don’t I don’t think it’s a lot but I do.

Nestor Aparicio  23:23

I agree with that. Yeah, I’m just saying yeah, but I just choose to look though, for the owner and for the general manager for the scouts and for everybody that put into him. You know if he’s out there running the ball hard that week want to get used to Fair enough. I mean, you know that and I think we all should expect that but just doing it without the to this time of year where you make yourself the centerpiece of the story. We’ve done a half an hour JK Dobbins let’s talk about the rest of the team and Luke Jones this year. We will we will sit down we’ll take a break I want to I want to come clean with Lamar women said Lamar is name other than the handle of annual football off during mini camp. Luke’s been around he’s a Baltimore look he’s gonna be monitoring all things Orioles this week. Obviously Orioles home again this weekend against Seattle and in a real pennant race which is gonna make you know football. We might not be talking as much football around your the next couple of weeks at least as we ramp up toward August 1 Again all star game got a trading deadline all that happened on the baseball side. We’re doing the Maryland crab cake tour on Thursday. It’s spirits West. We’re going to be on the west side of town right over there by Wilkins Avenue and st Agnes and we’re Frederick go road brings the mighty tails of Mount St Joe together having a delicious crab cake with Rick and a gang over there. So looking forward to that that’s two to five on Thursday. All of it brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery in conjunction with our friends at the wind donation 866 90 nation you buy two you get two free and you get two years 0% financing if you act now and bugs on my screens bugs in my eyes the whole car is what I need to stay in the house when I get when donation I’ll get bugs in my eyes. We’re gonna continue to talk to the Ravens football around here as well some Oreos, baseball It is a fun song bummer to have all this to talk about all this hope on both sides I’m Nestor he’s Luke we are wn st am 1570 Towson Baltimore we never stop talking Baltimore positive

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