What are the next key moves of DeCosta and Ravens?

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As the NFL Combine gathers in Indianapolis, Luke Jones and Nestor discuss the Ravens’ decisions on the franchise tag for Justin Madubuike and where to go in April for offensive linemen and more depth across the roster as the inevitable offseason attrition continues.

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

year, ravens, week, indianapolis, play, cap, lamar jackson, offensive line, combine, great, contract, work, draft, salary cap, coming, terps, free agency, bk, good, game

SPEAKERS

Nestor J. Aparicio, Luke Jones

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:01

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Welcome home we are wn St. am 5070, Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive we are going to get the Maryland crabcakes were presented by our friends at the Maryland lottery and window nation and Jiffy Lube, multi care and our friends at Liberty pure solutions out on the road. I’m getting some dates together. We’re coming back to Coco’s we’re doing Costas. I’m gonna be doing some live stuff on Fridays before Orioles games. This guy is going to be joining us. Luke Jones joins us now. Look, I remember back in the day, by the way, we’re done talking baseball for anybody that you see Camden Yards behind me. You’re what this is all football. In this one. We’ve swore we would stick to football. But you know those days we’re waking up in Indianapolis where it’s eight degrees. And we have to like Frigidly walk across a parking lot. And wait out in the cold for the doors to the House that the Ursi family built to let us in and sit there and look at big murals of blue and white and Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning and you know, they, they made it on appealing for us to be there and then they made it unavailable for me to be there. I don’t miss that at all. But I must say Luke, you you asked me right before the segment began what the weather is in India 6966 and 62. That’s Fahrenheit. And then the cold spell comes in over the weekend. So yeah, I don’t know. I always dreamed we would go do that on a week when the Terps will be playing in Bloomington. Because one thing I’ve never done I’ve never been to Bloomington Indiana. It’s hard for you to believe given my affinity for not just John Cougar Mellencamp and but I’ve never been to Bloomington, Indiana in my life.

Luke Jones  01:38

That’s that’s surprising to me. I mean, we did do the Maryland Purdue trip. You know, we did that one year at the Combine

Nestor J. Aparicio  01:44

memorable legendary, like, I put that on my top 100 Like sporting events I’ve ever attended.

Luke Jones  01:50

Although, what was the burger joint that was hyped up? That was not that was very underwhelming. Okay,

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Nestor J. Aparicio  01:56

let me let me plug my dear friend Stanley, Joe Blonsky, who has been on the show from time to time, he lives in Chicago. He’s one of my dear friends in life that I’ve collected through all of my journeys. Never forget that day I met Stan. And we were together over the weekend and he went to Purdue. So I, you know, said to him, you know, I went to a game in Mackay, Maryland. They were that’s six years ago. They’re both ranked that time. I said, you know, Maryland got beat. It was the year that Maryland was like Soleimani. And diamond stone is like it was that kind of year for them. And I know that Willard just got this huge recruit last week. So there’s some Terps and there’s but I said to him, that was one of the really memorable. Like, I mean, Beano was assistant coach at that time. I remember seeing Dino give a pep talk underneath in front of all the wooden stuff underneath the Mackie like I have a really like you and I were together and we have never talked about this. But I said the stand guy fee and he sent us that his trip like Oh, you went to the triple X. Now the triple X sounds like some down on the block or no. It’s just a burger joint. I mean, like literally old school diner. It’s Mel’s diner from Alice. You know what I mean? With burgers and the little glass things with with cake on the top and the whole place smells like fried onions and cheeseburgers. Like a little bit. didn’t smell as good as a little tavern. And the burgers were not near like I was hoping for a really delectably awful little tavern Bert, which is my favorite burger MP. You wouldn’t you wouldn’t love me bring me a little tavern burgers right now but me but eight of them and a little bag with a little onions that made me flatulent with ketchup on them. And the pickles, you know, but I was expecting that experience dude was the worst cheeseburger I’ve ever had. My life was terrible.

Luke Jones  03:42

I don’t remember being the worst I’ve ever had. But it was underwhelming. Yeah, I mean, it was one of those deals and look, you know me Nestor, you know very well, I’m not a foodie by any stretch of the imagination. I’m, I’m very easy to please. When it comes to food. It was very forgettable. That’s I completely forgot. Like,

Nestor J. Aparicio  04:01

Were you drunk? It was at 1am. And I’m like, no, he’s like, Well, then it wasn’t any good. And I’m like, oh, okay, so, Lucas here. We’re here to talk football, even though we’re not in Indianapolis. You know, I’ll give full disclosure because I liked doing this. Because they thrown me out. And I shared a picture of us with John Arbol put us in his cab and we flew out like the whole deal. I’ve written about that. But it became a diminishing thing. I started going in 2003, maybe two or three when it was in the Hoosier dome, and it was a hallway and Peter King retired this week, right. So like, through all of the changes with the combine the combine is a made for television event here that even you as a journalist sitting in this pool room of nonsense of kids running around and being handled by every handler has ever been handled. It’s sort of the ugly greasy side of the under neath of all of that draft and its own legality and how the league operates. And the sports sciences that gather in Indianapolis like, it’s become this sort of cultural event that eventually I guess they’ll move to Los Angeles under their own thing, but indie still works for them. But I don’t miss going, I don’t miss drinking with scouts and coaches, they’ll three in the morning. And my era has sort of graduated from that. And I think some of that chicanery goes on. But from my purposes, if I’m trying to figure out who the ravens are drafting, at the end of the first round, I can pretty much do it on NFL Network here this week a lot better as a journalist than I can be out there banging around tables with handled 20 year old kids, because I’ve done that 20 times.

Luke Jones  05:44

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Right. And you can speak to this much better than me because he even I think my first combine I went to might have been 2013, something like that, Oh, he didn’t get it going? Yeah, jump the shark. Right. It had already done that, which, you know, to your point, through the journalist

Nestor J. Aparicio  05:59

out of seeing it literally so Right. Like, literally, let’s start with that.

Luke Jones  06:03

I think you have that. But also just everyone’s less accessible than they were 20 or 25 years ago. I mean, you hear, I mean, I remember hearing it even just a few years ago, the stories of, you know, Peyton Manning’s year how he would be walking back from his workouts. And Peter King, I believe was one of them was would walk with them for 15 minutes and interview and whereas now it’s, you know, they’ll have the podium sessions for however many prospects and look, I mean, there’s some value to that, is it this tremendous value is a terribly interesting, usually not usually the headlines at the at the Combine or for bad news, you know, something will come out about someone’s drug test, or, you know, obviously, leaking scores or who had a bad meeting, whatever it is, but, you know, it’s, it’s a big event, the NFL, you know, it’s the machine, right? I mean, it’s so big, that it can’t, is

Nestor J. Aparicio  06:59

what Peter Kane called and Mark Malloy called the Prophet. I like that. And I’m going to start to use that as province that is officially Peter, I’ve ripped it all, thank you and your retirement. So I’ve taken that.

Luke Jones  07:14

But, but it’s just, you know, it’s become bigger and bigger and bigger. And when you have events continue to grow that way, and there’s more and more control, less access for media that, you know, 20 or 25 years ago, had a lot of really compelling things that could come out of that, you know, it just, it kind of is what it is. I mean, it’s it’s still important for the teams, in terms of the interviews, the medical checks, I mean, that’s obviously a big part of this. We know that behind closed doors late at night at St. Alamos or wherever agents are meeting with GMs they’re getting, you know, that it’s really the soft opening for free agency, more so than the official date, you know, tampering date coming up in a couple of weeks. But so you see,

Nestor J. Aparicio  08:02

the Conrad right there for breakfast, Pat Moriarty would be in a corner with an agent every day all day long. Like, That’s literally how business was conducted there. Because I guess in the modern era, Zoom has sort of changed a lot of what you know, Hey, how are you can look at someone in a negotiation. But there’s still nothing like when everybody gets together in the same time, it’s a convention, it’s a football concert. What it is,

Luke Jones  08:26

it is it is, and again, that’s not even, you know, sounds like we’re bashing the combine. I mean, it’s just it’s changed a lot from where it was 10 years ago, let alone 20 years for what we do for a living, we go

Nestor J. Aparicio  08:38

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out there and sit there, it would not be good. It wasn’t good. And the NFL put us in a back room in the back corner. Wait, like it just like literally became something like, well, they don’t want us there a and if I’m not going to broadcast in there, why am I going there other than to drink all night, because you can’t get into the combine, you get stuck in a room with basically no offense, a bunch of junior journalists from colleges everywhere that they give everybody a badge. They stick them in this holding tank to watch the NFL Network. And that’s covering the combine, like and they whisked players in for eight minutes at a time in group podium settings, many podiums, they’re all talking at the same time. It’s all in the same room. It’s a cacophony of noise. It’s not very well done. It’s not meant to be well done. They don’t care that it’s well done. From anybody’s perspective, so we stopped doing it so anybody’s wondering why we’re not freezing. We’d be freezing this week. And you know, I know where every great restaurant is in Indianapolis I know my way around that town 20 years I love that town that’s friendly Heartland Midwest I you know, you know I forgave her say and I know my way around Broad Ripple and I know where good pancakes are and stuff but chicken and waffles fantastic joint. Yeah, the edge of town there. I got that. I will say this Richmond jerris used to eat at this restaurant and and Kravitz sent us to that Italian that little reminded me of squires little Italian restaurant with all college basketball stuff up. I’m not gonna lie yeah Chad steals cost me some things throw me out. This is you know one meal there and I have no reason ever go to Indianapolis if it’s not for football, I guess right? I don’t know. Like, why would why would I choose to go to Indianapolis after it’s chosen me for 30 Even though I don’t dislike Indianapolis, but I think what am I gonna get back to some of the romance of some of this but then I put on the combine for five minutes to see these guys running around and I’m like, Okay, what’s spring training? It’s all good. But I mean, there are listened to caster and Ozzy over the course of years hiding here, John Harbaugh so far as to throw us in his cab. His brother actually came down when he was 14 honors coach and did the show. And I mean, I’ve had a whole litany of really interesting guests back in the day when we set up live at seven in the morning and did our thing there, along with other streaming radio people and whatnot. Poor Adam Schefter. But the business of it aside where the ravens are all right, a lot of coaches out the back door. Lot of questions on the matter BK Patrick, queen, lot of free agent a lot of already. All right, well, you know, how are they going to replace the guys that they’ve already Seidler? Other guys that look like they’re not coming back at this point? Give us a reset from your last two weeks, starting with Zeidler. And starting with all right, what are the goals here as they go with a late first round pick? Some supplemental ideas, salary cap, a little bit more space than they thought because of the cap. So there’s been some news here in the last week, 10 days,

Luke Jones  11:52

there has been in I’m glad you brought up the salary cap, because I’m gonna put you on the spot since you were taught reminiscing a little bit about Indianapolis. I haven’t prepped you for this for anyone listening. What was the salary cap in 1996 ravens inaugural season. And this, and this helps explain why the Combine has just

Nestor J. Aparicio  12:12

taken on its 40 choice if the man roster I’m trying to think how much money Vinny was making how much money Eric Turner was making. What in terms I want to go with $58 million.

Luke Jones  12:31

You’re still on the high side. $40.753 million. So here we are. nearly 30 years later, which

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Nestor J. Aparicio  12:39

is like 9 million or so some crazy 6 million number against that number. Yeah. Okay, go ahead. Yeah.

Luke Jones  12:47

And those were the days where, you know, remember the 2011 CBA really changed the rookie scale and everything. So yeah, top five pick was making lucrative money relative to the cap. But yeah, 1996 40.75 3 million, and this past week, $255.4 million, as a salary cap, that right there illustrates how the Combine has changed over 25 plus years, in terms of just the business, the lucrative nature of the NFL, but you mentioned it and while we talk about it, I mean, the salary cap a little bit higher of a bump than most had projected. I saw a lot of Ravens fans react to this in a way that excitement and look like this is this is good news for them. However, I’m very reluctant to say all this really changes the outlook for their offseason because the salary cap went up for all 32 teams, right? I mean, every team has more space now. And what this typically at least in a vacuum, what it should mean, is higher prices on the free agent market.

Nestor J. Aparicio  13:53

itself another $600,000. Right. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Luke Jones  13:57

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Where I do think it helps the Ravens however, and will start to work backwards is I think with it being you know, the neighborhood of 10 million, maybe as high as 15 million higher than some of the projections that were out there. I do think it makes the the franchise tag for just a matter BK less les prohibitive now, not that it’s not going to be a major challenge, because you’re talking about a $22 million cap figure there, if we’re talking the tag for him. But I think that’s a little more doable now for them in terms of if you don’t work out a long term deal by March fifth, if you don’t work out a long term contract by July 15, or whatever the the mid July deadline is for playing on the franchise tag. I think that becomes a little more workable. Now. When you have a salary cap increase, I think people are quick to view it through the lens of oh, you can be more active on free agency and you know, we just said that that’s not really how it should work if we’re talking about, you know, market prices and demand and not and all that, but I think where it does help it Is your contracts that are already established, your contracts that are already on the books become a little more value valuable, right? Because you are playing under a higher salary cap. So that’s where I think, if it matters anywhere, I do think it helps them with Mata BK because I, I’ll continue to say this, I can’t fathom that, you’re just going to let him hit the market. I mean, considering what an interior pass rusher is in the NFL, and how much that’s viewed as, for lack of a better term, a unicorn, you know, in terms of that, that guy that can get to 10 plus sacks lining up, you know, off the off the shoulder, the guard, you know, as a three technique. I mean, that’s very rare. So I, as much as I, if I’m being honest, have some reservations about giving him $100 million contract, you know, after one monster year, I certainly don’t want to let them hit just hit the market. So that’s where you do look at it through the lens of sand. Okay, higher salary cap a little more flexibility does make the franchise tag a little more doable for you. I mean, it’s still not great, you know, you still don’t want to, you know, have so much of your cap, just be eaten immediately by that by that number. But kind of is what it is. I mean, you would assume Mata BK at this point, after he bet on himself last year, and had the year that he had, he wants to get the market. I mean, even if it’s a case of still wanting to be a raven, you want to get to market, right? I mean, he wants to see what his value as it and as he should so, so that’s where it’s tough. But this

Nestor J. Aparicio  16:34

is where the gods of football all came together under Gene Upshaw and, you know, negotiated this thing away. That’s a specialty thing that restricts the market, you know, if I Chad wished, like sitting next to us, and we should do that you would meet Chad weaseling over crabcakes sometime soon. And sit and talk about that. Because this is this is the back door like what Billick would always say time for play time for PE. And this is the time of the year where when you go to Indianapolis for 20 years, when you go to owners meetings for 20 years like I have, and you go to Super Bowls for 10 days at a time for 28 years like I did, that you meet people in the industry. And they they do deep dives on the value of all of this. And now every year just the safety how really, if when you look down tight ends are kind of getting screwed in the NFL, from a value perspective. From what but to your point, interior linemen they can get after the quarterback. That’s some you know, that’s Hall of Fame money. Right? Yeah.

Luke Jones  17:37

I mean, you’re talking. I mean, that’s why when it’s all said and done, whether it’s the ravens, or another team and look, this is working under the assumption that Justin Mata BK, if he does play under the tag on the tag, has another year, at least comparable to what he just did. I mean, you’re talking about a guy who’s going to get somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million contract. I mean, that’s what you’re looking at for that unique skill set. I mean, look at what no one’s Aaron, Donald, I understand that. But looking at what his compensation is looking at what Chris Jones is expected to get, you know, Kansas City free agent defensive tackle, who’s put up monster numbers here in recent years, and rings. Mata BK is going to be somewhere. I’m not saying he’s going to eclipse those guys, but he’s going to be somewhere in that neighborhood. I mean, I’d be shocked. Whether it’s the Ravens resigning him, or whether it is, you know, tag and trade or by some chance that they don’t franchise tag him, which again, I would be very surprised by, you know, I’d be shocked if this guy’s getting anything less than a 90 million kind of dollar $90 million contract, you know, if not more than that. So, you know, that’s what we’re talking about here. So it is a challenge. That’s why the friend or the salary cap going up as much as it did does help them a little more, I don’t think it drastically changes their outlook or their strategy on the free agent market, I think. Unless we see the Ravens go the route of using the voidable years a lot like they did last year, which by the way, has left them with about $9 million in dead money in their cap for this year. That’s the cost of doing

Nestor J. Aparicio  19:11

business, which isn’t in stone and all these guys for months that and we were saying all along through all the enthusiasm through by week through winning a game like all of that. We were saying like the band’s gonna break up here. They can’t keep everybody I mean, you said that a million times. Now we’re starting to see like, how the game is gonna get played right and stone Zeidler whoever ag Aguilar Xin, right, like so there’s a guy that wasn’t even around this time last year.

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Luke Jones  19:41

Right so, I mean, there’s always turnover and that’s not the I don’t I don’t think this is a case where the Ravens like that they’re gonna collapse and they’re gonna stink next year, far from it. You know, I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that. But yeah, you’re gonna have some turnover and you’re gonna have a little more than normal. And I mean, look what’s happened with the coaching staff. I mean, the defensive coaches, they’ve lost Iowa this past week, I mean, Keith Williams, our assistant wide receivers coach, who, by the way, is pretty popular with their incumbent wide receivers, and gets hired in New Orleans to be their wide receivers coach. I mean, that’s just, that’s, that’s how this works. So you’re going to have turnover. But in the meantime, yeah, it is going to be a challenge to see what this looks like. And I think, you know, because you mentioned him, because that was probably the biggest headline other than the cap itself. The biggest headline early last week was that the Ravens did not get anything done with Kevin Zeitler, meaning his deal, like Gus Edwards, like Gino stone, like rock Eocene, will void, right, his contract voids and he’ll become a free agent. Now, let me be clear about that. That does not mean they can’t work something out still. But if you couldn’t work something out to avoid the dead money hit that those void, you know the voids for those contracts? Cause then that decreases the likelihood of me thinking you’re gonna get something done. I’m gonna last. And this is possible because Kevin’s lightless, 34 years old are going to be 34 years old. Unless the market for him is way cooler, then project B would not that he’s gonna get crazy money. But you know, it’s not. It’s not unheard of that some team doesn’t value him and get him a three year contract. I mean, that’s, that wouldn’t be surprising at all. Unless the markets really tepid on him. He’s probably not coming back. So what does that mean? That’s another position on the offensive line, the ravens are gonna have to fill I mean, you look at where they stand, right guard, Kevin Zeitler, free agent left guard John Simpson free agent. Okay. That one’s not, you know, that’s not a deal breaker. He was the weak link on their offensive line. Although I’ll, I’ll remind everyone, he’s the only one who played all 17 games on their offensive line. And there’s, there’s value to availability. But we’ve talked about this with what’s going to happen with Ronnie Stanley. You know, it’s still a case for me where I look at that, yes, long term, you’d love to find a successor for him. Are you going to do that though picking 30th. Overall, I think that’s a very ambitious goal. Very ambitious. So I still think the best case scenario for them with Ronnie Stanley for this year, and we’ll see how it plays out is to try to get him to take a pay cut, because the reality is Nestor, where Ronnie Stanley is now as opposed to where he was five years ago. No one’s giving him the contract that the Ravens gave him in 2022 days before he wrecked his ankle, right? I mean, we we can we can agree on that. So that’s, that’s the situation that is typically right for a team to perhaps get a player to give some money back, you give him some incentives and turn and say, Okay, we’re gonna lower your salary to this. But you can earn these incentive, A, B, and C, if you want are on the field and to play at the kind of level you were three, four years ago. So, you know, that’s that I still think that’s probably the most realistic scenario for them. Because one, if you just cut them right now, the cap hits too great. I mean, the dead money is too great. You’re gonna play left tackle. That’s still the big question there. I still think the best case scenario for the Ravens with Ronnie Stanley is reworked the deal, make it a little more flexible. You’re looking to draft his successor. But maybe it’s a scenario like Jonathan Ogden back in 1996. Tony Jones was a left tackle when Americans left tack with that. J. O played left guard for a year. Maybe that’s the scenario that the ravens are envisioning. Now a lot has to happen. Guy has to be there when you’re picking 30th Overall, or if you’re picking in the second round, and you’ve got a lob or whatever it is. Stanley has to be amenable to take reworking his deal a little bit, and you have to see where you are. But long story short, as I’m talking about it, it’s a lot on the offensive line. And I didn’t even mention Morgan Moses who’s entering the final year of his contract. So I’ve seen some people say, suggest that the Ravens might need to replace four out of five black guys on their offensive line. I can’t fathom them, making that much change. I think the time trying to replace that much because, look, I get it. Morgan Moses is older. Ronnie Stanley is older Ronnie Stanley is not living up to his contract. I understand that. I’ve been saying that for a couple years now. You know, and plenty of people have been but to try to turn over your entire Oh, line sands. Tyler Linder balm. I don’t like the odds of how that’s probably going to turn out so I think what you’re going to see Yeah, guard we’re gonna have to see I think chances are Ben Cleveland’s probably gonna be a starter this coming year and they’re gonna hope that he does what Ben powers did a couple years ago for them. You know, we’re gonna see what big solid looks like in year two, we’re gonna see what you know, we’re gonna see what Andrew Vorhees the seventh round pick who tore his ACL at the Combine Last year, but was a multi year starter at USC and was kind of projected to be a mid round pick before he hurt his knee. We’re gonna see what he looks like this spring and summer. So they’ve got some options internally. But yeah, there’s going to be some turnover for that offensive line. And that’s why for me, and I wrote, I touched on this at Baltimore positive.com. As much as I’ve heard chatter, and it’s not just fan chatter, mind you, there have been some national reporters who have even talked about this, talking about the possibility of the Ravens being in on a Derrick Henry or a say, Quan Barkley or something like that. I fall much more in the camp of, you need to make sure this offensive line is optimal before you’re worried about bringing in a veteran running back. I mean, I for the money that I think Derrick Henry’s going to cost, which isn’t going to be crazy money, but it’s going to be real money. I want to make sure my offensive lines as good as it can possibly be before I’m worried about that, because we’ve seen this keep Mitchell was the latest example of this, the Lamar effect is a real thing on any running back that you bring in. We’ve seen them have running backs that look at someone like Latavius Murray or Devonta Freeman a couple years ago, I mean, those guys had more success with the ravens and they’ve had with anyone over the last five years, why it’s because of Lamar Jackson in His presence and how that helps everyone. So that’s where I’m a little less inclined to throw money at a veteran running back now. I’m monitoring that market. And if one of those and there’s a long list of names for lack of a better term or on term on the on the runningback market, if one of those guys is still available after the draft, and maybe a couple of the running backs that I covered in the draft aren’t available when I’m picking, then okay, then that’s a different story, you know, that there’s a scenario where I’m, I’m on board to make a marking, grim kind of a signing at running back. But, boy, I’m really much more concerned about making sure this offensive line is in the best shape it can possibly be, because we saw how this work back in 20 and 21, with a lesser offensive line and what that meant for Lamar Jackson, or for any quarterback, you know, I mean, that’s just reality. That’s not just Lamar, that’s any quarterback so you know, I for me, that’s kind of the the headline right now. And I haven’t even touched on edge rusher and knowing you know, what that’s gonna look like with clowny being a free agent and Vannoy being a free agent and David a job Oh, coming back from another injury

Nestor J. Aparicio  27:32

member in December of talking about, like, what the end of the season was going to look like, right? Like, yeah, I mean, we there was no oxygen to talk about all of that. But it was like, this is why this whole now we’re never and people were paying $800 to go to the game and like all that. It’s because like, it’s gonna be real hard. I keep using that word, dude. And it’s not it’s not productive, you know, it’s diminished. They’re gonna be diminished to some degree.

Luke Jones  27:55

And, and I’ll disagree with now or never, but it’s now it was now in terms of everything setting up as beautifully as it was on paper, right? The coaching staff being what it was, I mean, Mike McDonald, you saw, you saw how coveted he was around the league. I mean, he had what five or six teams interview him, the Seahawks flat out waited because they wanted him and, you know, they waited until the Ravens were eliminated, you know, in the conference championship to treat him like a friggin King. Yeah, exactly. So you lose him, you lose Anthony Weaver, you know, Zack, or becomes your defensive coordinator. Now, you lose Denard Wilson. You know, you lose some of the players that they’re inevitably going to lose in free agency. I mean, look, I’ll say right now, regardless of what’s going to happen with this offseason right now blind, I’m picking I’m already I’m calling my shot here. I’m not getting I’m not going out on a limb. I’m predicting the ravens to make the playoffs next year. I am let’s be clear about that. However, the position they were in, which was best team in the league, at the end of the regular season, Kansas City being down regardless of the fact that the perception of their demise was greatly exaggerated. Right. Buffalo being where they were Cincinnati being where they were. You have Jim Harbaugh coming in now with the chargers, Houston was with, you know, Stroud, they’re going to be a year older, more experienced, you know, it’s it’s tough sledding in the AFC, I mean, you know, you have a lot of teams that are going to be interesting, at the very least going into 2024. And yeah, the ravens are still in that group. But to your point, they’re going to be a little diminished, at least a little bit diminished. And depending on how this goes with free agency, and depending on how this draft works out for them, they could be diminished more than a little you know, it could be a lot, so doesn’t mean that they won’t still be good, but are they going to be this 13 and four, test point differential one The league best DVOA seen in years that hit guys like Aaron shots were talking about? Probably not. Now, they can be the 11 and 16. And I was just gonna say that’s that said, they’ve been in that position twice in five years where they were the cream of the crop and the regular season, and where did it get them. So that shows that that’s not a requisite to win the Super Bowl. But it does speak to the challenge that Eric d’acosta from a roster building standpoint and John Harbaugh with his coaching staff, which we’re still waiting to hear the official announcements for all the jobs being filled. And all that which we’ll hear this week with the Combine if we haven’t heard already, by the time someone’s listening to this, but, you know, they’re, they’re gonna need some things to go right. They’re gonna need some young guys to pop, you know, I mentioned the pass rush, for example, not just the job. Oh, but how about like a TV is Robinson, who was drafted in the fourth round, he actually played more than I thought he would play over the course of the season. It’s pretty quiet, as you’d expect for a fourth round rookie. But can he take a step forward? Trenton Simpson, we’ve talked about him because he was drafted with the thought that he would be the successor to Patrick queen. And it looks like it’s gonna play out that way. He looked good. Playing against the Steelers in week 18. But that’s got to translate, because he’s probably going to be the starter next row, Quan Smith. So you know, you need your young guys. You know, to take a step forward, you need your young superstars like Kyle Hamilton, does he have another level? Even which Boy, that’s scary to think if he does, because he’s already such a, I’ll say it. I mean, Kyle Hamilton is already a great player, the idea that he could be even better, you’re going to need some of that from some of your stars. And you’re going to need that from some of your up and coming youngsters because and a

Nestor J. Aparicio  31:43

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third round draft pick that to be named later that they’re going to discover next week that they’re going to put your hat that they’re gonna bring out who’s going to wind up being the next Ricard or the next thing or the next whatever? Because that’s what they’re searching for. Right? Yeah,

Luke Jones  31:56

no question about it. I mean, the reality is, and look, Lamar Jackson’s cap number still isn’t going to be crazy this year. But it’s going to be $32.4 million. Ronnie Stanley’s cap number, which again, you hope that they’re able to lower this with pay cut, you know, rearranges, some monies, incentives, whatever it is, but $26 million. Marlin Humphrey, just under $23 million cap number. He’s a guy. I think some of the talk I’ve seen some people talk about him potentially being a cap casualty. I don’t see that whatsoever. One it would be a post June 1 anyway. But that said, it’s a big year for Marlon Humphrey to bounce back from an injury plagued year. You know, you can’t have your kid other top guys on available the Ravens sold. That was obvious the last couple years with Lamar Jackson on the sideline in late December. I mean, not playing. You can’t have that you need your best you need your stars to be healthy available. Numbers are your stars period. Right? Yeah. Until Until Kyle Hamilton’s ready for an extension, right. I mean, that’s where you are slender balm.

Nestor J. Aparicio  33:02

How important is your center? Well, you know, my brows fallen apart when Alex Mack rolled out of there, you know, and honestly, they’ve been looking at decades to replace Matt Burke. You know, you talk about this lighteners gone. He’s fun. Sailors, not Marshal yanda. But I mean, but Burke and Yolanda and then Stanley not really ever being great. He was great for a minute. But he was never like Ogden was great, or Burke was great, where they were just there and great. And miss them when they’re gone. When Ronnie Stanley is gone, we’re gonna say I missed them in 2019. But it’s 2000 and forget 24 Man,

Luke Jones  33:38

you know what I mean? Right. Exactly, exactly. So I mean, that’s where the

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Nestor J. Aparicio  33:41

three I mean, like, it’s been a while since he’s been great.

Luke Jones  33:45

Yeah, well, I’d say this, I mean, losses. He’s been healthy. But I was just gonna say he missed roughly half of this past season. Now he was a Pro Bowl player in 2022. Was it his best season? No, but he was he made the Pro Bowl. I mean, he was he was I checked the box. He was good. I mean, he was Marlon Humphrey, let’s say, but 21 He got hurt at the end of that year, too. So that’s why I said, I think all the talk about him being cut, I think is way too premature. And you know, you’re still talking about someone who’s still relatively young. Keep in mind, he was a very young rookie out of Alabama. I mean, this was a guy who was, I think, turned 21 During training camp that year. So you know, we think of Marlon Humphrey as this guy who has been around forever, and he’s still not close to 30. I think he’s going to be 28 this year, this coming season. So you know, but he’s got to bounce back. He’s got to play like one of your stars. There’s no doubt about it. So I heard that expression

Nestor J. Aparicio  34:41

last week. I just want to drop this on you. This must be a southern thing. Say he’s got an Alabama mouth and a Vanderbilt trophy case.

Luke Jones  34:53

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Who said that? That’s pretty good.

Nestor J. Aparicio  34:56

I just want that. let that marinate now. All right. I will say that again. Pretty good and Alabama mouth and a Vanderbilt trophy case. Did you come up with that? Or have someone tell you that stolen man, I saw that on the internet. And I thought, huh, that tastes good. You know, I’m like, I gotta use that. You know, it’s

Luke Jones  35:13

pretty funny. But the point is, I mean, he’s 27. He’s gonna be 28 in July. I mean, but it’s a big year for him. I mean, we’ve talked about this, and it’s always through the lens of the quarterback, but it applies to all of your high price players. And it’s one reason why Tyus Bowser, everyone’s expecting he’s going to be cut. I mean, he’s got a $7.5 million cap figure and didn’t play last year. And then we played about half the season the year before that he can’t stay healthy. But when you’re talking about Mark Andrews and Marcus Williams and Marlon Humphrey and Ronnie Stanley and Lamar Jackson, I mean, you’re talking, I just rattled off five through one or six through one their top cap figures for the 2024 season, as it stands right now. You know, they need to be your best players, and they need to be on the field unhealthy because if not, the boy, you are really tapping into the bottom of your roster and league minimum kind of guys to try to fill the void. And, you know, this past year, the Ravens were really fortunate, but also a credit to them and a credit to this individual. Someone like Brandon Stevens, third year player, third round pick, had ping pong back and forth between cornerback and safety. He was their most reliable quarter this past year, no one was really expecting that, including the Ravens who had him practicing at safety and sprint in the spring. I mean, that’s where they were with him. So they were fortunate. And that was a case of they were able to survive the Marlon Humphrey entry because they had Brandon Stevens and they had a Ronald Darby that they signed in mid August to come in and do a nice job. So that’s not to say they won’t be able to make some signings like that come August, but they have a much smaller margin from air from which they’re operating now, with more or with Lamar Jackson’s contract and his number with the other guys on this roster, right at the top as it pertains to their cap. So you need those guys to play great. You need them to stay healthy. And that’s why Stanley has been so problematic the last few years, and why Marlon Humphrey was problematic last year, and they need him to bounce back Marcus Williams, same thing for him, right? He’s got to stay on the field, and stay healthy. So those are the those are the guys that need to be the absolutes for you when you’re talking about those guys with those cap numbers. And in that pay, you know, that pay scale that that tax bracket so to speak. You can’t have questions about those guys. Because Eric, the cost has got to fill out the rest of the roster with draft picks and value free agent signings and young guys that hopefully take the next step as they’ve had guys do in recent years. So it just becomes that much more challenging, not impossible. Again, this team still has a ton going for it. You know, let’s be clear about that. It’s not all doom and gloom by any means. But these last few weeks with the exodus from the coaching standpoint, and with what we’re going to see here over the next few weeks with absolutely a long list of free agents and there’s only gonna be a few guys that are back most likely. So yeah, you’re gonna have to look at the draft you’re gonna have to look at, you know what you can do from a cap standpoint. Look at young guys on the roster. Taking the next step. You know, someone like adopt AOA, someone like Rashad Bateman guys are first round picks where you say, hey, it’s go time you know, it, we can’t keep talking about your potential, it’s time for you to do it, we need you. I mean, that’s where it is with guys like that right now. So, you know, they, they’re going to need that, especially if you want this to be a case of 13 and four. Okay, there’s a little bit of drop off, but you’re still a really, really, really strong 11 and six or 12 and five, then some of that has to happen if if that stuff that I just laid out there doesn’t happen, then testing away five games when you’re winning, then you might be right, right. But if some of those things that I just laid out, if that doesn’t happen, then you might be looking at a team that’s 10 and seven and you’re struggling to make I don’t

Nestor J. Aparicio  38:59

know what that looks like if you lose two games in a row because last year’s team, you know, like, I don’t know what that looks like when you get beat 3047 Just on a week when you roll out of bed the wrong way. And Lamar has got an ankle or a head cold. Like they didn’t have any of that last year. They were almost like as flawless as anything we’ve seen. And I’m just like, Dude, it’s February. The Superbowl was like weeks ago on expectations because I’ve been on this roller coaster ride. I don’t expect them to be 14 Three next year. I don’t by the way before we break on this because we’re gonna break. Luke Jones by the way, Baltimore Luke following for all the wisdom and all that stuff. I’ve got the credit on that quote. Are you ready? It’s Chuck Douglas, former Washington Wizards bullets, Assistant GM and their scouting director for years who was with the Terps. Prior to that he uttered he’s big Terps guy, but that is his quote, Alabama mouth Vanderbilt trophy case as quoted by Chuck Douglas, and you can follow chuck out On Twitter, he’s, excuse me, Chuck Douglas underscore just chuck Douglas underscore 20 year NBA front office Exec. I should probably try to get him on. I mean, because that’s just such a great. I mean, that’s an entree to do 20 minutes radio right there, right? I mean, it’s an all time, right?

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Luke Jones  40:14

It’s pretty good. It’s pretty good. I can apply to a lot of people in the sports world. But but one, one final thought, though, because you mentioned it. And I know you said we’re going to break but I’ll also throw this out there when Lamar Jackson has been healthy. When we’ve seen Lamar Jackson healthy over the course of his career from his rookie year. Until now, ravens haven’t been a team that gets blown out. I mean, they just haven’t been I mean, the Bengals game a few years back that that early season game, he takes care of the ball. And there you go. So I’ll leave you with this. Lamar Jackson, number eight, healthy and upright, no matter what the rest of the roster looks like the ravens are still going to have a heck of a chance just might not be the optimal chance that they had this past year. I think we can all agree on that. So

Nestor J. Aparicio  40:59

there was a little scuffle up a puss in Boston over the weekend that made its way to my desk. And all I’m going to say about it is the person that was involved in it, who sort of victimized that and abused that on the internet, said, I hope she has the day she deserves. So I thought in addition to this great quote about Alabama mouth and Vanderbilt trophy case, I hope we all have the day we deserve Luke. So hope you have a good week. And we’re one day closer to spring training. Maybe some Florida weather, who knows certainly Draft Day and free agency a couple of weeks away. This is literally like you do this. Don’t tell anybody. You do this professionally. This is like the only we like literally when the baseball team and the football team are both good. And they are they’re very, very good. Right? Which we haven’t had a lot of in our almost 16 year relationship here, right? There’s not a lot of exhale. And Lord knows if the National Football League didn’t mistreat us. We would be out in Indianapolis freezing right now working her ass off if there was access in that way because we liked the work right? And we would be at Spring Training like Kirk McEwan was last week because I like to work even when was live radio and the guy that had the gate wouldn’t even let us into the stadium to put our stuff on and 99 Like all of those snack foods aside, we love this but this is the only time for you as a reporter who does this professionally holds a card and two sports that you get a couple of weeks where it’s like hey Nestor leave me alone a little bit Other than that, and like the Wildwood Max pizza thing

Luke Jones  42:36

I was gonna say early July is about the only time and even then I’m abandoning the Orioles for a week in doing that. So yeah, I mean it’s

Nestor J. Aparicio  42:44

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in a pennant race

Luke Jones  42:47

early July is that the pennant race Yeah, you hope that they’re gonna be independent race but no there’s a lot of exciting things coming up you wish the Terps were better although getting Queen the recruit big deal for the big picture you really

Nestor J. Aparicio  42:59

go with this chill out period I mean if we ran hard with Lamar before the storm then the Orioles and then the ravens and then the Orioles and then the ravens and then the champion and you know so like I’m chillin I’m releasing the book on my pop and my love of baseball on his birthday March 5. I’m gonna be asking you to make me cry Luke about Dad stories as well into March. We’re gonna be doing Friday’s live before Orioles games. I’m gonna have some stuff on that I’m gonna have lottery tickets to give away I promise as well as our friends a window nation and Jiffy Lube. And why is March it’s all of our great sponsors royal farms. I’m pouring that in my coal roofing mug here this morning. So big appreciation for everybody to make this thing work and, and for everybody that watches out on YouTube or listens or is a part of what we’ve done for 32 years or 25 years and our friends at curio and I’m a blunt person shirt. It’s just been a really nice little period here to exhale, celebrate 25 years that we’ve had. I haven’t played Peter principles last week. You might hear some greatest hits this week. But it doesn’t mean we’re not working. We’re actually working hard on doing some really cool stuff here. As we get into spring and summer and taking advantage of the new Baltimore Orioles and maybe like a new day for downtown and a new day for baseball around here. So I’m getting all revved up. He’s Luke you can find him out of Baltimore Luke, I’m Nestor you can find me anywhere the internet is served. We are wn st am 1570, Towson Baltimore. We never stop talking Baltimore. Positive

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