FA target #2: Dannell Ellerbe

Leading Ravens linebackers in tackles… Dannell Ellerbe.

Now that we have 100% solid cornerbacks on both sides, what’s next?

Again:  I am working under the assumption that a fast, aggressive, playmaking edge rusher is coming at #6 in the draft.

So I rate the Browns’ areas of need (excluding QB, punter, kicker) like this:

  • Strengths:  D-line, WR, CB, O-line, RB
  • Weaknesses:  Safeties, OLB, ILB, TE.

Can you tell how much I hated our defensive back play?  And actually, the pass coverage I didn’t see as a problem.  THEY JUST PLAYED SOFT.  No other word.  Not going to belabor this.

If I thought Jairus Byrd was an option, I’d mention him.  He ain’t.  Bills will franchise him.

So let’s move on.

Our ILBs will never NEVER tweet about sushi and god-damned Valentine's activities.

Our ILBs will never NEVER tweet about sushi and god-damned Valentine’s activities.

3-4 OLB, edge rusher we’re going to address in the draft.

Next.

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3-4 inside linebacker is next biggest need.

First off, our brilliant decision to move to the 3-4 created an opening at ILB.  Specifically, we need an ILB who’s played in the 3-4.  Let’s check PFF’s LB FA ratings, a good a place as any to start.

Hello:

We could probably stop at ‘Colorado Buffalo’ vs ‘Georgia Bulldog.’  However we do see that Jones has 24,000+ on a handle of @BradJonesInc.  That, actually, really is disqualifying if you want a Kanick recommendation.  With that, we will close down the research on Brad Jones, Inc.

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The case for Dannell Ellerbe.

4.5 sacks and would seem to know how the 3-4 defense is supposed to be played.  (Click for pretty awesome full size photo.)

Another reason to like Ellerbe over Jones is that we got to watch him in games against our team.  We like to trust our eyes.  He’s someone we’ve liked for awhile.

We know how old and slow Ray Lewis is.  We also know the Ravens won the Super Bowl and defense was a big part of it.  Deductive reasoning tells us, therefore, that Ellerbe not only carried Lewis’ heavy ass but carried it all the way to the Super Bowl.

But you know us, we like to have some data to support our instinct.  How’s this:  Ellerbe was second in tackles on the Ravens with 92.  (Pollard first.)  There’s a very large gap between 2nd are 3rd.  Ellerbe has almost double Ray Lewis’ number (57).  What does this tell us?  It confirms Ellerbe carried Lewis’ ass.

It also indicates that Ellerbe is -in fact- a much more important signing for the Ravens than Kruger.  And given that in the draft we’re picking up Ansah, Moore, Mingo, whomever… Kruger is not a need.

Repeat:  Paul Kruger is not a priority need.

Upgrading Kaluka Maiava is a need.  Put Ellerbe’s 92 next to DQ’s 118 and behind a Rubin-Taylor-Hughes(?) front and that is some defensive intimidation up the middle.

And there’s also this…

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In case of tie, target that FA that will create max distress to your in-division rival.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 7.35.27 PM

TOP 20 LBS RANKED BY 2013 CAP HIT. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

We know signing Keenan Lewis will leave the Steelers with old, expensive Ike Taylor and … looks like Cortez Allen right now.

Imagine the Ravens losing one ILB to retirement and the other to the Browns?  Imagine the brilliant GM Ozzie Newsome shuffling the decks to sign Flacco and Pitta and anticipating the loss of Kruger only to have the Browns take Ellerbe?

To those with a preference for Kruger, I first say that OLB is assumed to be addressed via draft.  But also, with respect to harming the Ravens, Courtney Upshaw is a stud who can step into Kruger’s slot with [probably] not too much drop off.  Upshaw-Suggs at OLB is still pretty good.  Whereas losing Lewis and Ellerbe with undrafted Josh Byrnes and 36 year old Brendon Ayanbadejo as their projected ILBs…. well.  Well that, friends, is harming your rival.

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What will it cost?

Linebacker are cheap compared to CBs.  Karlos Dansby carries a cap number of $8.5MM.  To the right are the top 20 ranked by 2013 cap hit.

My guess is that Oz thinks he can get Ellerbe in for a cap hit of $6MM.  That will be tight for the Ravens who still are sitting at $106MM for 2013 and that’s without Flacco, Kruger, Pitta, or Ellerbe.  Someone’s gotta go.

Browns could bump it to $7.5MM (Lance Briggs money) and probably walk away with a first rate physical 3-4 ILB.

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What does Ellerbe say?

Impending free agent ILB Dannell Ellerbe would prefer to re-sign with the Ravens, but he acknowledges that “it’s a business.”

It’s the same stock answer Ellerbe gave after the regular season. “I would love to be here,” Ellerbe said. “Baltimore is where I got my start, but it’s not up to me. It’s out of my control. The Ravens know how I feel. I hope we can work something out.” Baltimore is expected to make Ellerbe a priority this offseason, as he’s the heir apparent to Ray Lewis at inside ‘backer. Feb 4 – 8:55 AM

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I’ve seen Ellerbe somewhere else on Kanick.

If you’re wondering where else you may have seen Ellerbe, he did show up in the head injury post from last week.  Not a fan of this hit; not going to disqualify him from my team because of it either.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9dY9uTWmeA&w=640&h=360]

 

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