Ryan Grant is NOT a Raven, after all…

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Paging Steve Harvey, paging Steve Harvey…Mr. Harvey…

After the news leaked that the Ravens had agreed to a 4 year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, many fans and pundits raked the Ravens over the coals for spending such large money on a “questionable receiver.”  Grant wasn’t a bad guy, and his 2017 year was pretty strong, but committing that kind of money to such a lack of production seemed very counter to the usual Ozzie Newsome way.  One way or another, the Ravens were set to spend that money to bring in Ryan Grant.  But, just two days later, without holding a press conference yet, a new development leaked: The Ravens physical apparently uncovered some more information about an ankle injury that Grant suffered in the final game of the 2017 season.  As such, the Ravens decided to fail Grant’s physical, which of course nullifies the deal he signed, and excuses the Ravens from paying him anything at all.  Ryan Grant returns to being a free agent.

The development is not all that uncommon in many sports, as the Baltimore Orioles have had several free agent contracts fall apart over physicals.  The Ravens haven’t had as many of these developments, though they did have a deal fall through in 1997 due to a shoulder injury discovered in the physical (credit to @jamisonhensley for that recall).  What is interesting about this development is the circumstances around it.  Firstly, as I noted in my initial writeup of the signing, Grant had NEVER missed a game in his career.  This wasn’t some sort of recurring injury that the physical showed is causing degenerative damage or anything like that.  This is a player who was literally healthy enough to play in 64 games over 4 years.  To fail a physical over an ankle injury that never kept Grant from a game would either mean there is permanent or long-lasting damage that will impact his ability to play out a 4 year deal, or that the ankle injury doesn’t seem likely to heal in time to start the season.  The other condition to note is something that played out between March 13th, when the Ravens agreed to a deal with Grant, and March 15th, when he failed their physical for him.  On March 13th, after signing TE Jimmy Graham, the Packers decided to cut starting WR Jordy Nelson.  Nelson immediately received interest from several teams, including the Ravens and the Raiders.  He visited the Raiders, who went hard at Nelson and convinced him not to take any further visits and sign with them.  This triggered one other move: the Raiders chose to release veteran WR Michael Crabtree.  Shortly before news of the failed physical leaked, news broke that Crabtree was set to visit the Ravens on Friday, March 16th.  While the Ravens had seemed to still be interested in more free agent wide receivers, Crabtree’s potential signing here, alongside Grant and John Brown, seemed to be a bit heavy on the money the Ravens would have to spend when considering they have other needs to address as well.

Now, all of this is NOT to say the Ravens truly felt like a failed physical was their “Escape Clause” on Grant’s deal.  I can’t imagine Ozzie would be willing to agree to that deal in the first place if he didn’t truly WANT Grant to sign here.  Also, the failed physical doesn’t mean that Grant won’t sign here on different terms.  It could be that the Ravens choose to offer him a 1 year, 7.5 million dollar deal that can be voided if he’s unable to play due to his ankle injury, or some kind of smaller deal that involves less risk to the team if the ankle injury lingers or fails to heal.  Perhaps that will materialize over the next few days, but for the moment, Ryan Grant is NOT going to be a Raven, and instead Ozzie will go back to the board and go after his next desired options to improve the Ravens pass catching talents, starting with Michael Crabtree on Friday.

This is certainly more twists and turns than the Ravens are used to in NFL Free Agency!  Stay tuned…

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