Could the Packers go after Baltimore Ravens stalwart middle linebacker Ray Lewis to help revamp their defense to their new 3-4 scheme?
With the news today about Lewis calling DeMarcus Ware for Jerry Jones‘ phone number, Lewis looks primed to end up with the Dallas Cowboys (or as I like to call it, “The Land of Tools,” where Lewis definitely belongs).
However, that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the possibility of Lewis coming to Green Bay. The Packers need a leader. It had always been Brett Favre‘s locker room, but that ship has sailed. Aaron Rodgers leads more by example than vocally, along with Donald Driver and most of the offense. Nick Barnett and Al Harris are the closest thing the Packers have to a Lewis-esque player, but the same passion and fire equated with Lewis is not the first thing you think of when you think of them.
Lewis also knows the ins and outs of a 3-4 defense from Rex Ryan‘s scheme in Baltimore. Lewis’ knowledge of that scheme also makes the New York Jets a possible destination for him and Ravens teammate Jim Leonhard. Lewis can help the younger players of the Packers defense, Barnett, Aaron Kampman, and A.J. Hawk, among others, learn the defense in its most legitimate form. Lewis would be able to guide the locker room and work well with the team and give an edge to the team. He would be a little pricey, but Ted Thompson has plenty of cap space. Adding Ray Lewis to the Packers could only help the team on the field.
Now, why Ray Lewis on the Packers would not a good fit. The first thing that comes to my mind is an adjective another football fan used when describing Lewis: delusional. In terms of appearing as a me-first player (note I said “appearing,” not “being”), Lewis ranks up there with Terrell Owens in terms of pointless showmanship. “The Squirrel?” Gag me. Please. Seriously Ray, that got old seven years ago. I’d a put a stipulation in his contract saying he buries “The Squirrel” next to Edgar Allan Poe in Baltimore. And this showmanship goes from pre-game to in-game. Yes Ray, I’m glad your enthusiastic the running back was held to a routine three yard gain, but the thing is, you didn’t make the tackle. I don’t see why that dance is necessary when Haloti Ngata made the stop.
Lewis’ off-the-field antics (no, I’m not talking about being implicated in stabbings during Super Bowl XXXIV) also rub me the wrong way. Saying his contract situation was “between me and God” shows that he’s not willing to show Baltimore what he’s thinking. Also, the fact that all the information about him is coming out through other players like Ware, instead of out of his mouth really makes you wonder what he’s thinking. When the offseason started, I could definitely see him staying in Baltimore, but the way he has acted since then makes me really wonder what his motives and wants are. The Packers don’t need someone who isn’t going to be upfront with the organization about what they want to do. We just went through six years of the offseason soap opera that was Brett Favre. We don’t Ray Lewis discussing his contract situation with God instead of Ozzie Newsome. Last time I checked, Newsome writes the checks to the players, unless owner Steve Bisciotti pulled off one of the biggest coups in NFL history in getting God to be his GM.
Lewis’ age also plays against him in signing with Green Bay. The middle linebacker turns 34 in May, and, despite having one of his greatest seasons, should not be counted on to duplicate his performance in Green Bay. The Packers just do not have the same defensive talent available in Baltimore. Lewis played behind space-eaters Ngata, Trevor Pryce, and Justin Bannan on the Ravens, players specifically built for the 3-4. In Green Bay, the defensive tackles and defensive ends are severely undersized and help is expected to come through the draft. Due to his age and personnel, Lewis would not be able to produce in Green Bay the same way he does in Baltimore. This is enough to not pursue him in free agency.
Just because the Packers can’t have one Baltimore linebacker doesn’t mean they can’t have another. Bart Scott is set to hit the free agent market next Thursday and looks to have numerous suitors. The Ravens again placed the franchise tag on Terrell Suggs, keeping him in Baltimore for another year, and they desperately want Lewis, the face of their franchise and “The Original Raven,” back. This flurry of activity leaves Scott out in the cold, despite the fact he said he would take a discount to return to Baltimore.
I don’t think the Ravens would lose too, too much sleep over losing Scott. They have Tarvares Gooden and Antwan Barnes behind him on the depth chart, and it seems like anyone who goes into that scheme comes out a star. At 28, Scott is in his prime and is experienced. I was impressed by his behavior during the 2008 season. There were no outbursts like the infamous penalty flag-throw to cost the Ravens the game against the New England Patriots in 2007. Instead, Scott played his inside linebacker position how he was supposed to and reaped the benefits. Scott’s numbers have decreased since his career-high 103 tackles in 2006, but the Ravens have had numerous other members of their defense emerge during that time.
I think Scott would be a great signing for the Packers. He would team with Barnett to give the Packers two intense inside linebackers. With Barnett coming off of major knee surgery, Scott would also give them security if Barnett can’t go at full strength from Day One. Scott seems to be at a great place in his career and could bring some swagger to a Green Bay locker room that could use it.
Ted, open up the checkbook.
Side Note: The Julius Peppers plan is terminated. No sense getting him from the Carolina Panthers right now. Way too expensive. Also, Kampman is moving to the outside linebacker spot Peppers would occupy, and that would be too much of a good thing right there.