Question: Aaron: Many names are being thrown around Ravensland, Which
one do you think makes the most sense all things considered? Things like:
Contract $$$$, Acquirability, Scheme Ravens run, Long range vs. short term
goals, Billick being lame duck? Names like: McNair, Brees, Collins, Kitna,
Schaub, Brooks, Also in your view, is Boller done as a starter in Baltimore?
Answer: In regards to a contract, how easily a player might be acquired, the Ravens' scheme, big picture, Brian Billick's tenuous status and locker room chemistry, it's a complex equation to figure out. Let's start by crossing a few names off of this potential list and perhaps adding a few other names. In order, Steve McNair would be an ideal fit because of his athleticism, skills and leadership ability. However, his agent is closing in on a restructured contract with Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese. McNair has at least one more year left in Nashville.
Drew Brees is coming off shoulder surgery and the San Diego Chargers are liable to retain him.
Kerry Collins' chances of staying with the Oakland Raiders are increasing, shrinking this quarterback pool even more. He would be a nice fit considering his background with offensive coordinator Jim Fassel.
Jon Kitna doesn't have the strongest arm and tends to make mistakes at critical times. However, he is an accurate, accomplished passer who has a lot of intangibles. I think his attitude would be a breath of fresh air in the locker room. Obviously, Kitna is not an All-Pro, but in my opinion he's a quarterback who can win games for you provided he gets adequate protection and a strong running game. I give him high marks for character and football smarts. He's an overachiever type who scrapped his way into this league.
Matt Schaub is really promising, but I think Rich McKay will drive a really hard bargain in a trade scenario. I think Billy Volek could be a nice fit here.
Aaron Brooks doesn't seem like the kind of person you want leading your team. He has a lot of skills and talent, but he's more suspect than prospect.
My vote, assuming McNair and Collins are unavailable, goes to Kitna.
As far as Kyle Boller goes, he has one last shot to be the starter. That shot improves to practically a sure thing if the Ravens are unable to procure a viable alternative in free agency or via trade. A rookie quarterback, as Baltimore learned the hard way, isn't how you win a championship. Let's put it this way, Kyle Boller's honeymoon is over.
Question: Any word on whether they will re-sign Scott or Polley? Or both? Or neither? Your guesses on whether they re-sign Kemo, Weaver and Zastudil?
Answer: I think they will try to re-sign both players, but will likely be more inclined to sign Bart Scott rather than Tommy Polley. Maake Kemoeatu has become a major priority signing for the organization because of his size, attitude and willingness to play through pain. He doesn't make many plays, but he takes up a lot of room and keeps blockers from getting to the linebackers. Tony Weaver has said he hasn't heard from the Ravens, but it's still early. Dave Zastudil looks to be back as long as contract negotiations run smoothly.
Question: Aaron, What's your feeling on the young offensive lineman for the Ravens (J. Brown, Terry, Rimpf, Pashos) and how they factor into things for next season? Will any of them be starters? If so, who and where? Also, AD's contract is up after this season, has there been any rumblings out of Owings Mills about trying to sign him to an extension before the season starts?
Answer: I think Brian Rimpf will win out as the starter at right guard unless the Ravens upgrade at left guard and shift Edwin Mulitalo. Keydrick Vincent had a poor first season in Baltimore and must improve to retain his job. Jason Brown seems to be a better fit at guard than center, but he has the potential to be a starting center in this league. With Mike Flynn getting up in years and weight, Brown would be a nice replacement. Brown needs to work on his conditioning. Adam Terry needs to get stronger and tougher, but his wingspan and footwork make him a nice potential tackle within the next year. Tony Pashos is a restricted free agent likely to be retained. He's a solid player, but nothing spectacular. I think Pashos and Rimpf have a good chance to start again barring major upgrades.
Question: How do you think the O-line will be addressed this offseason? Are Flynn and Zeus gone? I hope so, but Billick seems loyal to his vets. A FA at Center?
Answer: I think Orlando Brown is definitely out. Mike Flynn could be out, but not definitely. The Ravens spent a lot of time at the Senior Bowl talking to centers like the kid from Ohio State and another from New Mexico.
Question: How do you see the CMac and Ray situations playing out?
Answer: My prediction on Chris McAlister is he will stay, but he's better shape up his attitude or he won't make it to the end of this rich contract. The Ray Lewis situation is fluid, but I foresee him being on the team this year and getting a chance to reestablish himself. If he makes too many waves, this could be his last season in the purple and black.
Question: Think the FO will keep both Kemo and Weaver? (I'm hoping so.)
Answer: I think they will since the free agent market isn't very good for defensive linemen. They are actually two of the better prospects out there, young, highly motivated, strong character, productive and healthy. They might be able to get more money elsewhere, including Cleveland which is interested in Kemoeatu.
Question:. Throw out 2 names as to who you think will be our starting QB and TB next year.
Answer: Jon Kitna and Lendale White.
Question: I understand the pressure is on Billick to make the playoffs. Is there a scenario, however, where he could still be retained if we only have 7-9 wins? For example, if we have a pogrom and names like Ray, Jamal and CMac are no longer here, and we replace them with a bunch of draft choices.
Answer: I think if the consensus view was one that Brian Billick did a nice job coaching what he had available and that the team overachieved he would have a good chance. If not or if he doesn't make the personal changes owner Steve Bisciotti demanded, then this could be the end of the Billick era in Baltimore.
Question: Although the D was very good this past year, they did not create TOs - something Ryan was supposed to get done. We had a surprisingly mediocre pass rush compared to the prior year under Nolan. I think this was another reason the O looked so pitiful compared to 2004 when the D was doing some serious scoring and setting up great field position. What are some of the things Billick, Ryan... are going to try to do to get more pressure on the passer this year?
Answer: They wanted to blitz more, but they really don't have the dominant defensive linemen to run the 46 defense. It was a big bunch of hype that the team didn't have the personnel to run much at all. I think Mike Nolan was more aggressive actually. Also, moving Terrell Suggs around so much and his failure to develop more secondary pass rush moves once his initial charge is stymied hindered the cause. Getting Dan Cody healthy is critical for this defense.
Question: Why was Zauner fired?
Answer: He meddled too much in personnel matters, didn't know his place as a coach. He wasn't a scout as he fancied himself. He tended to make enemies with his personality despite being a Billick ally. Zauner is a nice enough guy and a capable coach, but he wasn't highly regarded by several of his peers. Also, Gary wanted out. He closed on house in Arizona several months ago and he's an avid golfer.
Question: If Billick is fired after this upcoming season, who do you see as a potential replacement? I'm thinking Ferentz.
Answer: I think you might be right. Stay tuned. It's a long way from a Billick exit.
Question: Aaron,With free agency and the draft quickly approaching what moves might we see the ravens start making? Is there any news on the contract situation for Ed Reed?
Answer: I think we'll find out soon about Jamal Lewis' status and possibly a re-signing or two of a few core free agents. They seem poised to make a push to retain Maake Kemoeatu.
Question: Aaron thanks for the time and effort you have put forth in helping us in the Ravens loop of things. My question is what's the attitude around Owings Mills in regards to what is being said about Ray wanting out? Do you feel that the FO will speak out to quiet down the speculations, or just keep quiet until March 3rd?
Answer: They want to keep things quiet for now. It's a firestorm and they would like things to quiet down and calm down. They are firm in their resolution that they don't want to give Ray Lewis a new contract and they don't want to trade him without getting maximum value. I doubt he will be traded especially since I doubt he could pass a physical a few months after hamstring surgery. Remember the phrase, "buyer beware," it's key in potential trade scenarios.
Question: We all know that for the cameras, Biscotti supported Billick (after giving him 30 lashes in the public square), but obviously the picture that an organization presents to the public can differ greatly from the truth. Do Biscotti and Billick still have a good working relationship, or are things strained enough to adversely affect Billick's leadership next year?
Answer: I think there's mutual respect, but Steve Bisciotti as the boss has the upper hand clearly especially with Brian Billick and the team he coaches having missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. The press conference seemed to diminish Billick's authority and firmly imprinted an image of a strong owner who demands results or else. I think the perception of Billick being a lame-duck is something that can only be dispelled with a lot of wins and a contract extension in that order. It's a tall order, but it's Billick's best-case scenario.
Question: Is Tony Pashos a RFA or an UFA? Also, with the Ravens having a good crop of young O-linemen in Jason Brown, Terry, Rimpf, and maybe Pashos (depending on how you answer the first question) wouldn't it make better sense to focus on FA veteran O-linemen?
Answer: Pashos is a restricted free agent. I think Steve Hutchinson would look good in a Ravens uniform, but it will take a Brink's truck to get it done.
Question: Given all of the talk about the Ray situation, what is the minimum that the Ravens would accept in a trade? 1st rounder? 2nd? 3rd?
Answer: Second-rounder is a stretch, they would be thrilled with a late first-round pick. Accepting a second-round pick would mean essentially they have given up on him and thrown their hands up in the air. Ozzie Newsome isn't prone to emotional decisions. He's a pragmatic man who doesn't like to be pushed into a move. He stands his ground and lets things play out. Patience and caginess are a few of his virtues.
Aaron Wilson writes for RavensInsider.com and the Carroll County Times in
Westminster Maryland. He can also be heard on WNST 1570 in the Baltimore