FREE-AGENT STATUS, SCHEDULE, OFF-FIELD ISSUES DISCUSSED
It doesn't matter whether the Ravens are coming off a mediocre season or a Super Bowl championship.
It doesn't matter whether the team is simply getting ready for the next campaign or embroiled in alleged off-the-field misdeeds.
It doesn't matter whether the Orioles have infused their fan base with the usual late winter dose of optimism.
People in these parts are keenly and intensely interested in what happens to the Baltimore Ravens.
In Ravens Report's first offseason mailbag of 2014, fans have covered all kinds of topics like these. These particular inquiries came in through my e-mail inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org), but fans are also welcome to use the comment field below for any observations, criticisms or praise they might have of the team or Ravens Report's coverage.
First up is this note from a self-described "rabid fan," Mike S. of Baltimore City, who saw Ravens Report's AFC North Player Movement Chart and wants to know:
"How come Tandon Doss is listed as a restricted free agent? I thought that he had to have a certain amount of playing time to get that kind of status, and I don't remember him being on the field that much."
OUR TAKE: Playing time does play a role, Mike, but not much of one. A player must be on a team's active roster for at least six games during any given season to get one year of free-agency credit.
Also, the fact that Doss was released and then brought back after Jacoby Jones was hurt during Week One at Denver didn't affect his status at all. Doss was brought back on a one-year deal, and he now has three total years of service time, qualifying him for restricted status.
Wanda B. of Catonsville, who takes bus and plane trips to Ravens road games, read our annual schedule sequence projection, and had this to say:
"Joe, how is it you arrived at the particular order of games for this year?"
OUR TAKE: Wanda, it's strictly a projection, which is an Orwellian way of saying "educated guess."
I simply take a look at previous scheduling patterns and try to determine whether the league will continue those patterns or try to put a new one in place.
Last year, I got two games placed on their eventual exact date and was one week off on the bye week and several other games.
In reality, a computer compiles the schedule at the NFL's Park Avenue office in New York. It will be released in mid-April, with the four-game preseason slate expected to be announced in early April.
A question from Bill T. of Rosedale had to do with the Ravens' recent spate of off-field headlines.
"Joe, are the Ravens turning into one of those teams that are going to have a nationwide reputation for lawbreaking?"
OUR TAKE: Bill, many outside Baltimore still point toward Ray Lewis' double-murder charge in 2000 and perceive the Ravens as a team of bullies and troublemakers.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune's NFL arrest database, the Ravens have been one of the league's best-behaved teams during recent years, despite the arrests of running back Ray Rice and wide receiver Deonte Thompson this offseason.
The party bus incident last fall involving wideout Jacoby Jones and tackle Bryant McKinnie was not welcome news, but it did not result in any arrests.
Lastly, we turn to Marcie L. of Baltimore, who asked the following:
"Mr. Platania, how can I get to go to a Super Bowl? It's on my bucket list, and I haven't gotten to go to the two the Ravens have been in."
OUR TAKE: Marcie, that might not be as tough as it sounds. The NFL's official website (NFL.com) has league-sponsored travel packages to many of its biggest events, such as the draft, the annual games in London, the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl.
Sure, such deals are bound to be a bit pricey, and the fact that the next three Super Bowls aren't exactly close by (Glendale, Ariz.; San Francisco; Houston) doesn't help.
But if you invest the time and money and manage to get there, you're sure to have a great time no matter which teams advance to the games.
Joe Platania is in his 20th year covering professional football.