Ravens Insider VIP chat transcript

OWINGS MILLS -- Talking football with Chris Steuber and Aaron Wilson. Subscribers, please keep reading for further details.

Are our new DBs a true upgrade over last year's "bunch"?

csteuber Fabian Washington has a lot of talent and I think he's in a good situation with Baltimore and has an opportunity to realize his true potential. I think overall the Ravens have a solid secondary and if they're lucky enough to stay healthy they will be fine. aaronwilson What do you think the impact of Matt Ryan's big contract will have, if any, on Joe Flacco's negotiations?

csteuber I think Matt Ryan's contract set a new standard as far as rookie QB contracts are concerned. Flacco won't get anywhere close to what Ryan got, but he's going to get a nice payday. I think it all depends on what his agent wants; I think the Ravens have to be smart about how they deal with these negotiations.

aaronwilson What do you think of these rookie wide receivers Baltimore has picked up? Ernie Wheelwright, Patrick Carter, Justin Harper and Marcus Smith.

any other of the new rookies looking at big contracts? Us & others?

Chris, any thoughts behind so many signings so early?

csteuber All of the receivers you mentioned have great size and that's something the Ravens wanted to address. I like Marcus Smith and Justin Harper a lot. I think they have a shot to make the team. Wheelwright is also intriguing. He has great size and ability.

csteuber You mean rookie signings?


aaronwilson He's not referring to Baltimore, which has yet to sign anyone as of today's transactions.

sorry, to clarify, seems like there have already been more 1st rounder signings already then there were through all of June last year

csteuber Honestly, there is no reason any of the rookies should holdout. In a way, their contract is slotted with a percentage increase and it should be easy to lockdown a deal. I think the players who holdout are being poorly advised by their agents and should step in to get a deal done. You saw what happened to JaMarcus Russell; that didn't workout for anyone.

In terms of special teams, do you think the FAs and rookies will be able to meaningful improve the coverage units csteuber Baltimore fans are going to love Zbikowski and Nakamura. They're outstanding special teams players and will help out a lot.

Marcus Smith will also contribute on special teams. I think they upgraded their talent, plus, John Harbaugh was one of the best special team coaches when he ran that unit in Philadelphia.

aaronwilson What do you think of the Steelers, Browns and Bengals' respective rookie classes? aaronwilson And how do the Ravens' newcomers stack up?

csteuber I really like what the Steelers did in the draft. They added the best talent available and upgraded their offense. Mendenhall and Sweed will have an opportunity to contribute right away. The Browns got a nice player in Beau Bell and Martin Rucker will also contribute on offense.The Bengals needed a solid draft and they did; Rivers will be an impact player right away. Jerome Simpson, Pat Sims, Andre Caldwell and Andre Collins

csteuber Like I said before, I thought the Ravens had a nice draft. A lot will depend on how Flacco develops over the next few years, but overall it was solid. Ray Rice will be a nice RB and I think Tavares Gooden has a chance to develop nicely, as he will learn from another Miami LB Ray Lewis.

Chris, what is your take on Pitt's o and d lines?

csteuber University of Pitt or the Steelers?


Chris how do you think Strahan's retirement will affect the Giants' chances as defending their championship?

csteuber I'd be a little concerned if I were a Steelers fan in regards to their O-Line. Losing Alan Faneca will be a huge loss. The Steelers defense will be fine. They have a lot of solid defenders who can get after the QB.

Also, how does the rest of the NFCE look to be shaping up since we play them the latter half of this upcoming season?

csteuber Luckily for the Giants, they have a Justin Tuck, who's one of the best young DE's in football. The Giants will also get Mathias Kiwanuka back healthy and they will also add to the pass rushing mix.Anytime you lose a player like Strahan it's huge, but I think the Giants will be fine.

Were you surprised by Benson being cut and which team would you expect to sign him (if any)? thanks

csteuber The NFC East is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. They're all tough teams. The Cowboys are going to be explosive this year. The Giants are solid. Philly will rebound and contend for a playoff berth; the Redskins will most likely finish last.

Although we will be playing the Vikings in the preseason, do you think Rex Ryan will have a plan to slow down AP or will it be a possible preview to when they come to Baltimore in '09? Which rookie RB has the best chance to make an impact this year?

csteuber As far as a mostly run game (Peterson & Taylor) vs. (McGahee & Rice)? They will have a game plan going in to stop Adrian Peterson, but he's a guy you try to contain. Peterson is going to get his yards; he's extremely explosive. The Ravens have to attack the edge and force Peterson to cut back Kevin Smith will have the biggest impact this season. He's going to be the starter in Detroit.

csteuber At this time how are the Ravens being viewed as a rebuilding team or a team that can win like two years ago? With the schedule that we have I believe it is rated at the 5th toughest in the league what do you believe would be a good season record wise for the Ravens I am predicting a 9-7 season Peterson and Taylor are better than McGahee and Rice.

I know the draft is over for this year, but which team helped / hurt itself the most with this draft?

cteuber I think the Ravens are a bit of a tweener team. In some ways they're in transition with a new coach and a bunch of young players and in another way they have some quality veterans that can help the youngsters. It will be interesting to see how the team comes together this season.

Many in Baltimore are starting to believe that Smith has a great shot to be the starter yet national media is still on board with Boller - what is your take?

csteuber The Chiefs had the best draft, and it's early to say which team hurt itself the most, but I was confused by the Titans selection of Chris Johnson. I like Johnson, but the Titans took LenDale White in the second round in 2006 and Chris Henry in the second round in 2007. Didn't make much sense to me.

csteuber I think Troy Smith should get an opportunity. He was a big time player at Ohio State and I think he has some upside. I think we've all seen what Kyle Boller can do at this point, I think Harbaugh should give Smtih the reins.

Aaron, Rex Ryan was eleevated to an Assistant Head Coach have you seen him act any different in his role with players while they have been in town for OTA's or there mini camp?

aaronwilson Honestly, I think Rex Ryan has been his usual aggressive, back-slapping self. The promotion was geared to reward him and allow him to be elevated somewhat to appease those that wanted him to be the head coach. He defers to Harbaugh on many things, but he does run the defense. That hasn't changed.

Which 5 OL do you think will be penned as the preliminary starting 5 going into training camp?

aaronwilson From left tackle to right tackle, I think it will be, assuming everyone is healthy, Jared Gaither, Ben Grubbs, Jason Brown, Marshal Yanda and Adam Terry, as the starters. The lone backup I could see eventually starting if there's an injury is rookie Oniel Cousins. How has Landry's work ethic helped him so far?

aaronwilson He's improved his conditioning, gained some speed, converted some fat into muscle and seems to be moving around better. He also seems more instinctive and knowledgable. That has translated into helping the younger players and barking out defensive signals when Ed Reed hasn't been in attendance at minicamps.

Landry has a very good attitude and has made a strong impression on John Harbaugh.

Aaron In the front Page article you answered a question about F Washington that you believe he will be better now that he is reunited with Chuck Pagano and that he is a great coach what have you seen or heard from players in the secondary about the coaching changes in general and especially about Chuck Pagano.

As far as the WR Corps, if the Ravens were in a 5 WR set the 5 guys on the field to stretch the field, in your oopinion would be...

aaronwilson The players seem to like the new coaches, especially Cam Cameron, Chuck Pagano and Greg Mattison. I've known coach Pagano since he was on the coaching staff at my alma mater, East Carolina. He's a great teacher, very enthusiastic and has a knack for getting the most out of his players.

aaronwilson I don't know if all of these guys would necessarily stretch the field, but those five receivers would probably be Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams and Justin Harper.

So when do we sign up Ced Benson?

Aaron, DO you believe that Harbs will make the QB position a true tryout and let Flacco start gane one even though Ozzie seems to rather take a different approach since this did not work with Boller and do you think Flacco has the mental toughness to start and handle adversity well. I also mentioned earlier that I believe that the team will end up at 9-7 this year what are your expectations at this point in time

aaronwilson Pretty funny. Let's just say he shouldn't be waiting for a phone call from Ozzie Newsome.


aaronwilson I think it will be a legitimate competition, and I think Joe Flacco is well prepared for early playing time. They have been saying around team headquarters that they will play Flacco if they think he's ready and not before.

aaronwilson Honestly, I think this is an 8-8 team in all likelihood.

Aaron, I believe that Boller and his misfortunes have little bearing on how they handle Flacco. I think they see the differences between each (especially emotionally and mentally).

Do u agree?

With this being a non-playoff year if they do go 8-8 or 9-7 do you the Ravens will continue to look to get younger and do you think there FA approach will change from what they did in the past and not shell out the large money on older FA's fro next few years

aaronwilson I've been told that they don't feel bound to hold back Flacco based on what happened with Boller.

Ok, good

aaronwilson They are two different personalities and two different quarterbacks.


aaronwilson I think the youth movement is already being phased in as much as they can do so while remaining true to the talent on the roster.

Since Strahan retired, will J.O be next within the next thirty days or so?

aaronwilson I don't know if they have ruled out signing older free agents in the future. I would have to ask Ozzie Newsome how he felt about that. In the past, he signed players when they were in their prime. It would be advisable to follow that precept in the future.

Wouldn't be a chat without the JO question

Yea, they made the run with Mason/Rolle/Pryce/McNair and now are dealing with the cap trouble.

aaronwilson I would tend to think J.O. may bow out Friday at his golf tournament, but nothing official has been stated.

J.O/Favre/Strahan pretty solid Hall of Fame Class

aaronwilson The biggest cap figures are for Ray Lewis, Chris McAlister and Terrell Suggs.

Nor too shabby.

2013 HOF class will be a tough one with Favre, Sapp, Ogden, McNair, and Strahan...

McNair isn't a HOFer

aaronwilson Agreed.

i mean, if a guy like Cunningham isn't in, how in the world would McNair get in? Yes, those are the big cap #s but I was mentioning FAs that have been brought in only. We drafted those 3

his career is different from Randall Cunningham

and not better IMO.

I didn't think Cunningham did enough to make it in his career

but McNair did?

aaronwilson True. I think they have overspent for older players. In most cases, they only got one good season out of those guys like Pryce and Rolle. Mason has been a good signing.

aaronwilson So has Pryce, but he had one great year and one injury-plagued year.

Not to mention Cunningham revolutionized the position. McNair might actually get in in a few yaers for one reason. THe football HOF has that dumb rule where they must induct a minimum of 4 people a year. Awful

Speakiung of Pryce, what is the plan for the Ravens as far as replacing him? Other then Ray Lewis will they let some of our FA's walk and will they have a shorter rope on the draft picks that don't work out like Pittman and possibly Chester and will they handle the cap better is Moriority? good at what he does for our team or is this really Ozzie handling the cap space

aaronwilson They have no current plan at this point. They will likely need to draft someone. aaronwilson Yes, I think they will let some of the players depart. But I don't think they will begin cutting draft picks who have failed toemerge.

Don't me started on our cap handling Scouting for '09 class starts today!

aaronwilson Moriarty is very good at managing the cap. He follows orders on what to pay guys, though.

aaronwilson He presents scenarios to Ozzie, who is his boss, and then it's run by Bisciotti. I thought Bisiciott didn't get involved:0)

aaronwilson It's not like Moriarty doesn't know what cap decisions they're making or their impact.

they just seemed to have fallen into that trap of trying to make one last run - with all the vet signings

Right, but if he's getting the word from above, then his hands are tied in a sense aaronwilson Steve does get consulted on big contracts. He has to sign those checks.

well, when the Ray situation plays out, we'll see whats really going on IMO

I can see us over spending on Suggs. I know he is young but unless he has help on the other side I don't see him having as much impact on the game but will be a solid player but not prop bowl caliper do you think we need to over spend on him or franchise him again next year

I cannot fathom how they are talking with him and yet the Suggs talks are stalled. or at least thats what we're hearing aaronwilson Well, he's already stated how he feels about that, but he stressed that it will be up to Ozzie to negotiate with Ray Lewis.

They are likely to have to pay an inflated price for Suggs, yes.

aaronwilson If they want to sign him and I know that they do.

and once again, i fail to see the logic in not being proactive a year or 2 ago and gettinga deal done

aaronwilson The Suggs talks slowed down because his agent is asking for way too much money. aaronwilson They didn't have much cap room last year, either.

they seem to have a great idea of where the market is but not where it is going aaronwilson Remember, they let their free agents sign with other teams.

What about Antwan Barnes and his ability to rush the quarterback?

Suggs was good from day 1, correct? One would assume that they knew that they wanted to keep him long term. yet here we are, him franchised, and probably gonna get a blockbuster deal

aaronwilson And they rarely do a new deal with two years remaining.

aaronwilson Barnes is quick, fast and aggressive. He has a lot o pass-rush potential.

which begs teh question. is it really worth it to shell out close to 30 million for Suggs

aaronwilson Keep in mind they signed Suggs to an equitable rookie deal and he has outplayed that deal. Now, the market price has gone up and they have decided they want to pay him. good night all - thanks AW aaronwilson I'm not sure what they could have done diferently.

They absolutely could've signed him to a long term deal 3 years into his career aaronwilson Keep in mind that his agent would have never taken a low-ball offer two years in after he was a Pro Bowl guy who had been NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Especially considering how young he was

who says it would need to be a lowball deal? Now, we're talking astronomial aaronwilson That's what you're not getting. His agent isn't stupid. He has been planning for this free agency commission ever since he did Suggs' rookie deal.

aaronwilson Why would he not swing for the fences?

aaronwilson It's his job to get Suggs as much money as possible. It's the Ravens' job to get him signed to a market-value deal that they can afford.

What is going on with Rolle, Washington, Ivy, Walls and CMac?

as far as the starting DBs?

aaronwilson Well, Rolle, Walls and McAlister haven't been practicing.

could the signing of Suggs keep us in Cap Jail or is there enough cap relief coming with the departure on veterans that it should not be a problem. I believe in being a playoff caliber team year in and year out and not having a lot of super stars but a lot of team players with stars in playmaking positions we are starstudded on defense and star less on offense

SO you're telling me that if the Ravens came to him 2 years ago with top dollar THEN, he wouldn't of taken it or at least thought about it? It's a pattern with the Ravens. They wait and wait and end up paying HUGE money. The list is easy to see

aaronwilson The starting cornerbacks are McAlister and Rolle at this point.

aaronwilson And Washington is the nickel followed by Ivy and Walker.

aaronwilson Close competition between Walker and Ivy.

wouldn't mind seeing walker beat ivy out

i notice no martin or pittman.

So we know Walls is not going to make it for sure?

Why did I even ask?

aaronwilson I don't know what Suggs' reaction would be, but his agent could definitely have told him to wait knowing the big dollars would only increase whether it was the Ravens or someone else.

aaronwilson We don't know yet about Walls. He has been hurt.

aaronwilson Not a serious injury from what I've been told.

aaronwilson As far as Martin and Pittman, they have ground to make up. So does Prude.

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