Friday, February 27, 2009

Free Kicks- Extended Ravenswatch 2009

Well I am out of town again this week, hence the late entry. However, rather than having 3 topics I decided to go with an extended Ravens free agency category, with just one topic about non-Maryland sports. I had to throw in my two cents about Marbury. Anyways, let us commence Ravenswatch 2009 as we line up for the kick…

Stephon Marbury: The Next Manny Ramirez?
With the Stephon Marbury buyout and his impending trip to the Celtics, I foresee an interesting phenomenon taking place this offseason. Regardless of what happens over the rest of this season in Boston, Marbury will hit the market looking for a big payday even at the age of 32. Look, I am making no statement as to Marbury’s skills- he can be a dynamic playmaker even at his age, and he will be looking to be paid as a premier guard in this league. This is where he becomes Manny. He won’t get the money. No where near it. In fact, he could be waiting until October (basketball’s equivalent to baseball’s March) still waiting for that starting job and, more importantly, starting money. The man has an ego and an attitude unlike any other in the NBA, but unfortunately doesn’t even have the skills that Manny does. He is not a first or even second team All NBA player even at his best, unlike Mr. Ramirez. He will wait, and wait, and wait to get paid. He should be used to it at this point, he has sat for the last 3 months.

Now I know he will be signing with the Celts for the veteran minimum of $1.3 million, but don’t expect that to stand when the offseason hits. Boston is too smart to sign him past this year- and it looks like most of the league is even smarter to pass up on him altogether.

Ravenwatch 2009 Officially Begins
Well, here we are. Baltimore fans are poised for one of the most anxiety-ridden (or exciting, depending on how you look at it) free agent periods in recent memory, with the Ravens not hoping to drastically improve but just hold on to the players they had this past season. As predicted by yours truly, it looks as though Bart Scott is leaning towards signing with Rex Ryan and the Jets for $40 million, a move that makes sense for Scott and at least knocks one name off of the list of players the Ravens need to keep. I am not nearly as worried about the Ravens linebacker situation (Tavares Gooden, Prescott Burgess, and others are all ready to step in and take some of the load off) as I am about their cornerback or offensive line situations.

I really like the signing of Dominique Foxworth, and not just because he is an ex-Terp and Maryland native. The 25 year old cornerback has a great deal of upside and should fit in with a similar player like Fabian Washington, particularly if Foxworth is not forced into a starting role right away. Additionally, Foxworth had to play deep with John Lynch at safety, who has about as solid coverage skills as Roy Williams with the flu. With the safeties coming into the box to support one of the league’s worst run defenses, Dominique was left on an island far too often to appear as effective as he could be. Last season in Atlanta he was in his first year in the system, and his performance should take a major boost behind one of the best run defenses in the NFL. His $28 million deal over 4 years is more than I would have liked to pay for a player who was traded for a 7th round pick last season, but it should still allow the Ravens enough room to resign either Ray Lewis or Jason Brown (Brown highly unlikely as he is close to a deal with the woeful Rams), and even pick up a mid-level free agent.

A potential bargain free agent wide receiver could be Nate Washington, Pittsburgh’s 3rd wideout who I have raved about in my previews. Keep an eye out for Washington as a deep threat with excellent speed and leaping ability- consistent hands have been an issue, but he often gets in a groove at times and will take over a drive at a critical point in the game (too often against the Ravens this season).

Meanwhile, Baltimore’s cross-town rivals just got much stronger on defense with the addition of Albert Haynesworth at defensive tackle and resigning of DeAngelo Hall at corner. People say Hall has an attitude problem, but I thought he would have been a worthwhile investment for the Ravens. However, this is the classic pattern of behavior for ‘Skins owner Dan Snyder, who perennially makes a big splash in free agency only to watch his team get marginally better- but for a team that needed a powerful presence in the middle, Washington now has it in Haynesworth.

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