Previewing the 2014 Baltimore Ravens Schedule Release

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The Baltimore Ravens went from Super Bowl champs to watching the playoffs at home in 2013. It wasn’t exactly the title defense John Harbaugh and co. were thinking of, but injuries and a shaky offense didn’t help much. That’s the past, however, as Baltimore has stocked back up on offense and looks ready to give it another go in 2014.

For a successful season to go down, Baltimore will have to protect it’s home field at a high level. It won’t be easy inside a tough AFC North, while visits from the Panthers and Chargers could be quite challenging. Depending on how well Atlanta rebounds, the Falcons could also be trouble, while the Jaguars and Titans should be games the Ravens lock up with ease.

The Baltimore Ravens schedule on the road is a little more difficult, as they will have to travel to Houston, Indy, Miami, New Orleans and Tampa Bay. While those are all tough venues to play in, New Orleans and Indianapolis will easily be the toughest road matchups for the Ravens to tackle.

All 2014 Opponents

Home: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers

Away: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For a look at all 32 NFL team’s 2014 match-ups, click here.

Ravens Add Steve Smith to Passing Attack

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Look out! After spending his entire career in the NFC South, Steve Smith will now play in the AFC North as a wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens. Smith’s former team, the Carolina Panthers, released the wide receiver with rumors of not wanting to deal with Smith’s attitude and mouth. The Panthers wish to let quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly take over the locker room.

Now Smith joins the Ravens as the team missed a step last season and were unable to make the playoffs for the first time in five yeas. Smith will join the already decent flock of receivers in Dennis Pita, Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown and Torrey Smith.

Although turning 35-years-old in May, Smith feels he has more in the tank. Smith fell short of 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in two years in 2013, but still managed to record 64 catches for 745 yards and four touchdowns. Smith also carries the a leadership instinct as he was one for a long time in Carolina.

Smith and the Ravens will be taking on the Panthers at some point during the regular season, and will it ever be more interesting now with Smith now wearing purple.

Brandon Sweeney is Co-Editor of the Gab Network. Follow him on Twitter @NFLNSTUFF, Like him on Facebook , add him to Google+, and Trust him on Sulia.

State of the Franchise: Baltimore Ravens and 2014 Free Agency

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Written By: Christina Rivers

The Baltimore Ravens watched as the Cincinnati Bengals jumped to the top of the AFC North in 2013.  Hungry for another playoff spot, the defending Super Bowl Champions weren’t able to reach far enough in the NFL to get back to the top.  With free agency looming, the Ravens have some tough choices to make in order to meet their commitment to the 2014 NFL Salary Cap.

The Ravens had one of the most significant personnel transition – possibly the most any previous Super Bowl Champion has ever experienced – in 2013.  The 2014 NFL Season looks to be even more daunting.  The Ravens have 14 unrestricted free agents and two restricted free agents.

Tight end Dennis Pita was one player that Baltimore didn’t want to lose.  They offered him a new five-year deal worth close to $32 million.  Despite a disappointing season due to a surgically repaired right hip in 2013, in the four games he played, Pitta caught 20 passes.

The Ravens let inside linebacker Jameel McLain and fullback Vonta Leach go, opening close to $5 million in salary cap space.  Wide receiver Brandon Stokely has been rumored to desire retirement from the NFL.  It is likely that due to Pita’s re-signing with Baltimore that 35-year-old tight end Dallas Clark will leave the team.

Ravens insiders believe that the organization will let running back Bernard Scott and nose tackle Terrence Cody shop themselves around in the market.  Scott sat at the number three spot for the organization and didn’t provide the depth that the Ravens feel is necessary.  Cody will likely have to wait and see as third-round pick (2013) Brandon Williams is expected to see increased play at the position.

Tight end Ed Dickson told reporters at the end of the 2013 season that he doesn’t expect to be with the Ravens in 2014.  If Baltimore goes for a tight end in the draft, Dickson will most-likely be looking for an opportunity for a fresh start somewhere else.

Safety Jeromy Miles, cornerback Corey Graham and linebacker Daryl Smith are all expected to have restructured deals with Baltimore before the March 11 deadline.  Miles was picked up on waivers and paid him a restricted tender of $1.3 million in 2013.  While Miles isn’t considered a priority, the team may bring him back after March 11 to assist on special teams.  Graham appears to be a priority as one of the top three cornerbacks with the organization.  Coach John Harbaugh admitted that Graham may attract interest from other teams due to his play with the Ravens.  The Ravens want to get Smith signed before March 11 after the organization cut Jameel McClain.  It may be a short-term deal, but they need his veteran experience to aid Arthur Brown and Josh Bynes.

Newsome told the press that he believed that the Ravens would be active in the free agent market, as did Coach Harbaugh, so the next few days should be interesting in Baltimore.

Predicted to leave the team:

Safey James Ihedigbo – General Manager Ozzie Newsome is looking for more athletic safeties and is interested in moving Matt Elam to Ihedigbo’s position.

Offensive tackle Michael Oher – While Coach Harbaugh hasn’t ruled Oher out of the mix to bring back, but the Ravens appear to be more interested in bringing Eugene Monroe into the fold, and they can’t afford both players before the March 11 deadline.

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones – Ranked in the top 25 of free agents available, it is more likely that a team with more cap money will seek him out.  Both the Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins and the New York Jets have already been reported to have shown interest.

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones – He made $4 million in 2013, but Jones is expected to only be used as a return guy on special teams.  The Ravens are looking for key players in the regular package and Jones doesn’t seem to fit the current mindset of the organization moving forward.

RFA’s:

Wide receiver Tandon Doss

Linebacker Albert McClellan

Exclusive Rights Free Agents:

Safety Omar Brown

Outside linebacker D.J. Bryant

Inside linebacker Josh Bynes

Outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton

Safety Anthony Levine

Safety Brynden Trawick

Christina Rivers has been a freelance journalist, writer and photographer for over 20 years with a vast range of personal experiences. Credentialed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, her work has been featured on Examiner.com as well as CBS Sports, CBS Sports Local, KDKA in Pittsburgh, ‘The Beam’ in Pittsburgh, If It Ain’t Steel, SteelBlitz Steelers blog, SteelersDepot and more. She has written over 10,000 individual pieces of work and continues to add photographs to her growing portfolio. You can follow Christina’s work here on SteelersGab, on Facebook, via Twitter @3Rivers_Writer  and Google Plus.

TE Pitta Gets Five-Year Deal From Ravens Worth $32 Million

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The Ravens today made sure they wouldn’t lose tight end Dennis Pitta, handing him a five-year deal worth a reported $32 million.

“I could not be more excited to remain a Baltimore Raven,” Pitta said in a statement.

“There is no better organization or fan base in sports. To be given the opportunity to continue my career here is incredible. This organization drafted me and has always stood by me, especially during my difficult recovery last season – and for that, I am extremely grateful.”

Pitta missed all but four games this season as he rehabbed a surgically repaired right hip. He fractured and dislocated it in July. In those four games, Pitta caught 20 passes.

He remains a big part of the Ravens now and moving forward, and it’s no shock that the team went the extra mile to make sure he got paid and will be around for the future.

Ravens Release FB Vonta Leach And LB Jameel McClain

The Ravens today made some roster moves, freeing up cap space by saying good-bye to veteran fullback Vonta Leach and inside linebacker Jameel McClain.

The move will give the Ravens about $5 mil in cap space.

McClain will give the team $3.2 million in space, while Leach gives the team $1.75 million.

Right now the Ravens have ab out $27 million in cap space to play with, which will come in handy for free agency and also draft picks in May.

“Vonta and Jameel are two of our most important players over the last few seasons,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

It remains to be seen if either team would entertain the idea of coming back to the Ravens for less money.

Newsome Says Video Of Rice Dragging Fiancee ‘Doesn’t Look Good’

Ray Rice

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome commented that the video of Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancee from an elevator at an Atlantic City casino is a troubling image for the running back, Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports.

“It doesn’t look good, but I will reserve all of my comments until I get a chance to talk to Ray,” Newsome said on Saturday at the NFL scouting combine. “The whole video needs to be reviewed. … In any of those situations, it’s very concerning. Up until we get all of the facts, we will allow the process to run its course. We will let the facts determine what the consequences will be.”

Based on what he’s been told from Rice’s conversations with coach John Harbaugh, director of player development Harry Swayne and director of team security Darren Sanders, Newsome said he’s encouraged.

Rice and his fiancee, Janay Palmer, were both charged with simple assault-domestic violence following a physical altercation at Revel Casino a week ago. Both are in counseling and still plan to get married, according to Harbaugh.

“Right now, I feel very good about his side of the story, but I also feel very good about what he has done since that to help himself to not allow himself to get in a situation like that again,” said Newsome, adding that he hasn’t talked with Rice because he’s been here for the combine and NFL competition committee meetings all week.

Newsome said he wasn’t sure if an entirely different version of events will come out later. Rice has yet to say anything publicly since the incident. A Tuesday court hearing was postponed after Atlantic City law enforcement officials referred the case to prosecutors for review.

“I don’t know if a different story is going to come out,” Newsome said. “The video is what it is. But like I said, until the process runs its course, as an organization we will stand down.”

NFL May Look At Rice Case Under Personal Conduct Policy

Ray Rice

Ravens running back Ray Rice’s arrest and charge of simple assault-domestic violence in Atlantic City will be reviewed by the league under the NFL personal-conduct policy, Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports. This according to a league source.

Under the policy, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has wide discretion on punishing players regardless of how legal situations are adjudicated.

Goodell once suspended Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger during the 2010 season for six games, which was later reduced to four games, after the quarterback was investigated for an alleged sexual assault in Georgia. Roethlisberger was never charged with a crime.

NFL discipline can include suspensions, fines, banishment from the league, a probationary period where conditions have to be satisfied before reinstatement or a formal reprimand.

A player doesn’t have to be convicted of a crime to be punished under the NFL policy. The NFL can choose to levy discipline if the player pleads guilty or no contest to a lesser offense or disposes of a case through a diversionary program, deferred adjudication, a conditional dismissal or receives probation.

Generally, repeat offenders are dealt with much more harshly under the personal-conduct policy.

TMZ Video: Rice Shown Dragging Unconscious Fiancee Atlantic City

Ray Rice

TMZ Sports has obtained footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his fiancee (who appears to be out cold) out of an elevator in an Atlantic City casino … moments after cops say they attacked each other on the property.

The footage was shot on February 15th … right before Rice and his fiancee Janay Palmer were both arrested for assault at the Revel Casino. Cops say they have video which proved both parties attacked each other.

But before the arrest, Ray can be seen trying to lift and move a seemingly unconscious Palmer out of a casino elevator.

While Palmer is sprawled out on the ground, a man in a suit — who appears to be talking into a security microphone — approaches the situation and confronts Rice. It’s unclear if the man is security, but it sure seems that way.

Moments later, as Palmer seems to regain consciousness, Rice walks away.

Both Rice and Palmer were later arrested and taken to a nearby police station. They’ve since been released.

We spoke to an attorney for Ray who tells us … he has not seen the video but is adamant, “Neither Ray nor myself will try this case in the media.”

He adds, “However, the video that’s being posted by TMZ Sports is not the complete event, but is merely the end result of what transpired.”

“We’ll assure the public that when this matter is fully tried and completed, you’ll have a better understanding of what happened and we ask the public to reserve making any judgment until all of the facts come out.”