It's time to click open Part 1 of our weekly Baltimore Ravens mailbag ...
@jamisonhensley who do you think takes over return duties now that Jacoby Jones is gone?
— Hassan Zakai (@BigHass_) February 25, 2015
@jamisonhensley: The top candidate appears to be wide receiver Michael Campanaro, the seventh-round pick from a year ago. He fielded most of the returns for the Ravens in preseason with mixed results. Campanaro broke a 44-yard kickoff return but averaged a mediocre 6.4 yards on punt returns. The Ravens really do envision him as their own Julian Edelman, a slot receiver who is the primary returner. The biggest question with Campanaro isn't whether he can handle the job. It's whether he can stay healthy. Unless the Ravens draft a returner or sign one in free agency (which is unlikely, considering their cap situation), the other options at returner are cornerbacks Asa Jackson and Lardarius Webb, and both of them have difficulty staying healthy, too. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is also a possibility.
@jamisonhensley you know of any scheduling requests made by the Ravens? Like having the west coast games consecutive wks to stay out west?
— Todd (@bmoretodd) February 27, 2015
@jamisonhensley: I have not heard of any request, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Ravens made one to the NFL. When John Harbaugh's brother was the head coach in San Francisco, the 49ers remained on the East Coast multiple times in the regular season when they had back-to-back games on that side of the country. It helps cut down on those six-hour, one-way flights in a short period of time. There's a very good chance that the Ravens will have consecutive road games on the West Coast in 2015. Half of their eight away games are out west, against Denver, Oakland, Arizona and San Francisco. The last time the Ravens spent a full week away from their facility was 2003, when they went to San Diego early to avoid a hurricane headed toward Baltimore.
@jamisonhensley do you think Darryl Smith could be a cap casualty?
— Jeffrey Brooks (@jebrooksjr) February 27, 2015
@jamisonhensley: No, inside linebacker Daryl Smith is safe. If the Ravens cut Smith, the Ravens would create $1.25 million in cap room, which is almost double than what they freed up when they released Jacoby Jones. The difference is Smith is worth his contract, which will pay him $3 million this season. Coach John Harbaugh still can't believe Smith has never made a Pro Bowl. At the end of the season, Harbaugh applauded Smith for how he has stepped into Ray Lewis' shoes. Smith did lose a step from the previous season in coverage, and he likely won't finish out this contract because he'll turn 33 in March. But his consistent play was often overshadowed by C.J. Mosley. Many will be surprised that Pro Football Focus had Smith graded as the No. 7 inside linebacker last season, which was three spots higher than Mosley.
@jamisonhensley Will the Ravens look to stay steady with what they have at RB or look at investing in one during the draft?
— Matt Waldman (@brick_wall77) February 27, 2015
@jamisonhensley: The Ravens will draft a running back and sign one in free agency if they can't keep Justin Forsett. General manager Ozzie Newsome said this past week that one of the reasons why he wants to retain Forsett is his history of mentoring young backs. "Having Justin here - and with the opportunity [of] also bringing in hopefully another young running back - to have Justin be around that guy would be an asset also," Newsome said. That sounds like the Ravens are looking to take a running back in the first couple of rounds. It makes sense because this is a deep draft at running back. Given that I don't see Bernard Pierce making the team, I can see a backfield that includes Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro and a rookie.
@jamisonhensley If Torrey does go, do any of the receivers on the market seem like a good fit across from Steve Smith?
— John Vermeire (@JohnVermeire) February 27, 2015
@jamisonhensley: When looking at replacements for Torrey Smith, you have to keep track of the wide receivers who are getting cut. The Ravens' history is signing cap casualties and not unrestricted free agents because they don't count against their ability to gain compensatory picks. There were two receivers cut Friday: Miami's Brian Hartline and Atlanta's Harry Douglas. Plenty more should be pushed out because of high cap numbers, such as Andre Johnson ($16.1 million), Dwayne Bowe ($14 million), Mike Wallace ($12.1 million), Percy Harvin ($10.5 million) and Brandon Marshall ($9.5 million). A good fit for the Ravens is New Orleans' Marques Colston because of his size (6-foot-5, 225 pounds) and consistency (six straight seasons of at least 900 yards receiving). But there's talk that Colston, who has a $9.7-million cap number, will take a pay cut to remain with the Saints.