Friday, February 27, 2009

Ravens free agency notes...

Well, quite an adventure today on the Ravens free agency front. The purple and black was able to make one signing, bringing in cornerback (and former Maryland Terrapin) Domonique Foxworth on a 4-year $27.2 million deal.

My opinion: meh. Foxworth certainly fills a need at cornerback and he clears the way for Corey Ivy to hit the bricks. No complaints there, but if we lose Corey, who will replace his "let the guy make the catch 15 yards downfield, then tackle him" coverage style?

At the same time, Foxworth seems like another Fabian Washington, which isn't too bad, except for the fact we already have the actual Fabian Washington, a guy with good coverage skills and top-end speed but whose tackling could best be described as "boo-fooing." I guess what I'm saying is, to make a long story short (too late)as long as Foxworth can cover receivers better Corey Ivy and tackle better than Fabian Washington, we'll take him. But shouldn't you get more bang for $27 mil than that?

- Looks like Ray Lewis' efforts to create a market for his services didn't work out so good on Day 1 of free agency. This shouldn't be too surprising, since Ray tried to get himself out of Baltmo before, in 2005, and found there to be little market for him then. It was also little surprise that now he is telling his buddies over at the NFL Network that he is quite amenable to coming back to Harm City. Looks like he's finally figured out what a good many people in B-Mo already knew: there is only one team that has high demand for his services, one team that can pay him what he wants and only one team that will put up with shenanigans like this - the Ravens.

- Bart Scott is now a New York Jet after signing a 6-year $48 million deal. I have to say, I think Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome played this one brilliantly. He knew Scott, looking for his big payday, was going to the highest bidder. He had to know that the Jets were likely going to overpay and that there's no way Bart would be worth what the Jets were likely to pay. And while I think he was giving an earnest effort, I think in the back of Ozzie's mind he wanted to see how high the Jets were willing to go. And let me just say, having watched him his whole career, Bart Scott is NOT worth that much money. He's a good player who's spent his whole career playing in a great system. He's not Lawrence Taylor or Ray Lewis in his prime.

However, his departure will allow me to tell a story. Now, Bart was known as a loquacious (had to go to the thesaurus for that one)guy who loved to talk. This is the guy who once threatened to kill Hines Ward and once said after injuring Reggie Bush that he put some "hot sauce" on Mr. Kardashian's ankle.

So this year, I'm covering the last preseason game against Atlanta and I'm planning to do a story about the team's prospects in the season opener against the Bengals. So I talk to a couple different guys and have quotes from Coach Harbaugh, but I feel like I need one more quote. Lo and behold, there's Bart Scott sitting by himself. I figure Mr. Hot Sauce would be a good one to cap things off with, plus, I'd never really talked to him before, so I also wanted to see if I could establish a rapport for future quotes.

"Hey Bart, do you have a second for two quick questions?"

He looks up at me, annoyed, like I just told him somebody fucked his mother.

"Make it two QUICK ones."

I ask him a question on what the defense needs to do to have a successful game against the Bengals. It's a softball, and worse, I didn't ask it that well, but I figured he'd know where I was going, realize I was serving him up a meatball and then he'd hit it out of the park. Or at least give me a typical athlete cliche.

Nope, he looks at me like I have three heads and mumbles something that I can barely understand. I'm standing two feet from him. In my head I'm wondering, where's Hot Sauce? When did he go to the Willis McGahee School of Linguistics?

Ok, we got off to a bad start. Maybe he just swung and missed because I worded the question poorly. So I try to lob him another one about how the defense can bounce back after a tough year in 2007. Really, I'm not looking for much here. I ask the question a little better this time. I get the Bart scowl, with a bonus eye roll. And he once again mumbles an answer and I start trying to conceal my letdown.

Mercifully, I ended that interview and didn't go back to Bart the rest of the season. Mostly because after that interview I started reading stories saying the same thing I was thinking then: that he wasn't the 2006 Bart Scott anymore. Maybe it was the contract situation this year, maybe he was tired of pesky media guys looking to him for juicy nuggets, maybe it was because I didn't have a TV camera with me or maybe it was because he was an asshole. Whatever the case, me and Bart Scott didn't get off to a great start. But Bart, thanks for the memories. You've been a great Raven and even if you didn't provide me with a great interview, we'll always have this...

-Looks like Jason Brown is history. He signed with...the St. Louis Rams? Really Jason? Not sure I agree with Ozzie letting this guy get away. You spent all that time building up that young O-Line and now you let the best guy get away? Strange. But it's Oz, so I will assume he has a Plan B.

Ok, enough Ravens, I will go ahead and give some of this forum to the Redskins, who made a big splash by signing d-tackle Albert Haynesworth to a 7-year $100 million deal and re-upping cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a 6-year $55 million deal. To get the 'Skins perspective on things, I exchanged texts with comrade, 'Skins fan and attorney at law Patrick Thomas. Let's just put it out in the clear that Pat HATES the Ravens. This was our exchange of texts after the Ravens signed Foxworth, a fellow UMD alum.

Me: Looks like your boy Domonique Foxworth is going to be wearing purple and black this year.
Pat: I didn't know he was gay! Haha!

You get the point. Here now is our exchange regarding the Haynesworth and Hall signings, cleaned up from the original text-ese.

Me: You ready for your blogging debut? What do you think about Fat Albert signing on with the 'Skins?
Pat: I think the move was a good one on paper, given the need to upgrade the d-line and a guy like that makes the guys around him better. That being said, free agency has never proved to be a cure-all or recipe for prolonged success in the NFL. Ask me again in four years and my answer may be different. On paper they have more talent than they did yesterday but talent doesn't always win titles.

Me: So you're not worried that you just gave $100 million to a guy that's 340-lbs with a temper who's going to be spending summer training camp in the Mid-Atlantic where the temperature is 90 degrees every day?

Pat: There is always a risk of injury. Do you worry about Ngata's fat ass? Personally, I don't think anyone is worth $100 million but at least he's an elite player.

Me: How dare you insult Ngata Ngata the Slender!

But I see your point, at least Fat Albert is one of the top d-tackles in the league. What about giving you boy MeAngelo Hall $55 million?
Pat: He was their best CB last year. He got interceptions. He's a Pro Bowl player. Sure, it's a lot of cash but he is a very good corner and Haynesworth should make him and the secondary better by helping to generate a pass rush. Then again, maybe they'll be 3-13 again and it will all be for naught.

Me: Maybe. That's an awful lot of money to give out for a guy who bombed with the Raiders. Do you realize within the same calendar year, DeAngelo has inked a $70 million deal with the Raiders and a $55 million deal with the 'Skins? That's insane.
Pat: Al Davis is retarded.

Me: From DeAngelo's Wikipedia page, he got $24.5 mil in guaranteed money from the Raiders and $23 mil from the 'Skins. It also says, "he failed to adopt to the Raiders man-to-man style of defense & was regularly beaten by opposition receivers during the opening half of the season." Just the sort of guy I'd want to give $55 mil.

Pat: He was playing for the Raiders. They are horrible.

Me: True. Just planting seeds, that's all. Hell, we just signed Foxworth who's Fabian Washington II. At least it hopefully means no more Corey Ivy. So who else do you think the 'Skins should go after?
Pat: They are looking at Derrick Dockery, who they originally drafted. I'd like for him to come back (Dockery signed with Washington after this exchange). I think the focus has to be on the offensive line. They have pretty good depth on the d-line. Maybe draft a linebacker, running back or tackle.

And...scene. That is all for tonight but I'll be back tomorrow with some links and a recap of the big Caps-Bruins tilt from the afternoon. Hasta Manana, don't get any on ya.

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