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Ravens running out of time to reach new deals with two key offensive contributors before 2022 free agency

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While much of the attention on the Ravens‘ future has centered on their attempts to secure franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson to an extension, time is running out to retain two of the other most important contributors to their unique offense.

The Ravens have been seeking new deals with center Bradley Bozeman and fullback/tight end Patrick Ricard, league sources said, but have been unable to get close on new contracts as both head toward potential unrestricted free agency in 2022. Both are having excellent seasons and have become critical members of an offense that is unlike many in the NFL, especially with what is asked of linemen and blockers up front given the multitude of zone and run elements they employ to maximize Jackson’s skill set. They are also well-liked figures in the locker room — Bozeman is arguably more active in the community than any current Baltimore athlete and was the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in 2021 — and fit the mold of the kind of homegrown players general manager Eric DeCosta said he wanted to retain when he took over for legendary GM Ozzie Newsome.

But there are also several factors that make that tricky. The Ravens have virtually no cap room this season, both players are excelling, the team does not have cost-certainty with Jackson yet, and a franchise tag is a nonstarter for either. Even the transition tag for an offensive lineman projects at around $15M for 2022 (it is not a position-specific designation with tackle salaries factored in), while Ricard would be prohibitive whether he was classified as a running back ($10M transition tag) while a tight end transition tag will likely come in at close to $10M as well.

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Bozeman, who has been very durable, emerged as a stalwart left guard after being selected in the sixth round in 2018 out of Alabama, where he played center. Baltimore’s center play was suspect in 2020, with poor snaps ultimately helping undermine their season, and Bozeman has made a smooth transition to center this year, settling down an important position. His ability to pull and move are key to Baltimore’s system, and the price tag for interior offensive lineman has been soaring in recent years. The Ravens have let centers leave in the past to earn big money elsewhere, and the cost of a quality center on the free agent market is likely to be in excess of $10M a season, perhaps well in excess.

Ricard has been asked to play essentially at least four positions this season for Baltimore, with the former Pro Bowler’s role expanded beyond what it already was. Ricard, an undrafted former defensive lineman out of Maine in 2017, is a rare athlete at over 300 pounds, with agile hands and feet and a powerful blocking style. Besides fullback he plays multiple tight end positions and what amounts to H-back duties as well, taking on even more with blocking tight end Nick Boyle out since last year due to injury (he returns today) and with Baltimore’s tackle play suspect at times this season.

Ricard, nearing the end of a two-year/$7.3M deal, ranks 10th in offensive snaps among any running back in the NFL, per PFF (they classify fullbacks as running backs). The Ravens consistently put him in motion to help trigger the run and pass game, and aid a struggling offensive line. Ricard has played 46.2% of his snaps at tight end, per PFF, and lines up in the slot 14% of the time, indicative of his versatility. The Ravens utilize a fullback 58% of the time; San Francisco is next highest at 43%, while the league average is 12%. Ricard is invaluable, and with the Ravens paying Boyle about $6M a year, it’s difficult to envision any scenario in which Ricard would not command more, whether in Baltimore or on the open market given his unique traits.

Replacing either will not be easy, leaving the Ravens with some difficult decisions in the coming weeks as they try to secure more of their core before the season ends, and free agency beckons.

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How to watch Appalachian State vs. James Madison: NCAA Football live stream info, TV channel, time, game odds

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Who’s Playing

James Madison @ Appalachian State

Current Records: James Madison 2-0; Appalachian State 2-1

What to Know

The James Madison Dukes watched the action from their couches last weekend, but are set to take to the field. James Madison and the Appalachian State Mountaineers will face off in a Sun Belt battle at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The odds don’t look promising for the Dukes, but the bigger the opponent is, the harder they fall.

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A well-balanced attack led James Madison over the Norfolk State Spartans every single quarter on their way to victory two weeks ago. James Madison claimed a resounding 63-7 win over Norfolk State at home. The game was pretty much decided by the half, when the score had already reached 35 to nothing.

Meanwhile, Appalachian State didn’t have too much breathing room in their contest with the Troy Trojans last week, but they still walked away with a 32-28 victory. Appalachian State QB Chase Brice was slinging it as he passed for two TDs and 279 yards on 34 attempts. Near the top of the highlight reel was Brice’s 53-yard TD bomb to WR Christan Horn in the fourth quarter.

Their wins bumped the Dukes to 2-0 and the Mountaineers to 2-1. Watch the matchup and check back on CBS Sports to find out who keeps up the positive energy and who hits a stumbling block.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium — Boone, North Carolina
  • TV: ESPN Plus
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $40.99

Odds

The Mountaineers are a solid 6.5-point favorite against the Dukes, according to the latest college football odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Mountaineers as a 7.5-point favorite.

Over/Under: -111

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Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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UTSA vs. Texas Southern: How to watch NCAA Football online, TV channel, live stream info, game time

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Who’s Playing

Texas Southern @ UTSA

Current Records: Texas Southern 1-2; UTSA 1-2

What to Know

The Texas Southern Tigers will take on the UTSA Roadrunners at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Alamodome. Texas Southern isn’t favored, but they just beat the odds in their last game, so don’t count them out.

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The Tigers kept a clean sheet against the Southern University Jaguars last week and took the matchup 24 to nothing. The squad ran away with 21 points in the first half and mostly just sat on those in the second to pick up the victory.

Meanwhile, it was all tied up 17-17 at halftime, but UTSA was not quite the Texas Longhorns’ equal in the second half when they met last week. The Roadrunners suffered a grim 41-20 defeat to the Longhorns. This contest was a close 17-17 at the break, but unfortunately for UTSA it sure didn’t stay that way. A silver lining for them was the play of RB Brenden Brady, who threw one touchdown in addition to punching in one rushing touchdown.

Texas Southern’s win lifted them to 1-2 while UTSA’s loss dropped them down to 1-2. We’ll find out if the Tigers can add another positive mark to their record or if UTSA can shake off the defeat and take the spring out of Texas Southern’s step.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alamodome — San Antonio, Texas
  • TV: STADIUM
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $69.00

Odds

The Roadrunners are a big 42-point favorite against the Tigers, according to the latest college football odds.

Bettors have moved against the Roadrunners slightly, as the game opened with the Roadrunners as a 44-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

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Series History

This is the first time these teams have played each other within the last seven years.



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North Carolina vs. Notre Dame live stream info, TV channel: How to watch NCAA Football on TV, stream online

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Who’s Playing

Notre Dame @ North Carolina

Current Records: Notre Dame 1-2; North Carolina 3-0

What to Know

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be returning home after a two-game road trip. They will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Kenan Memorial Stadium after a week off. UNC is expected to win — but not by much — so they will need to come into the game prepared for a fight.

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The Tar Heels beat the Georgia State Panthers 35-28 two weeks ago. Among those leading the charge for UNC was RB Omarion Hampton, who rushed for two TDs and 110 yards on 16 carries. Hampton put himself on the highlight reel with a 58-yard TD scramble in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame netted a 24-17 victory over the California Golden Bears last week. RB Audric Estime and RB Chris Tyree were among the main playmakers for Notre Dame as the former punched in one rushing touchdown and the latter snatched one receiving TD.

Notre Dame’s defense was a presence as well, as it embarrassed California’s offensive line to sack QB Jack Plummer six times for a total loss of 47 yards. It was a group effort with four guys contributing.

The wins brought the Tar Heels up to 3-0 and the Fighting Irish to 1-2. A pair of stats to keep an eye on: UNC enters the matchup with 310 passing yards per game on average, good for 21st best in the nation. But Notre Dame comes into the contest boasting the 34th fewest passing yards allowed per game in the nation at 184. These opposing strengths should make for an exciting matchup.

How To Watch

  • When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Kenan Memorial Stadium — Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • TV: ABC
  • Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
  • Follow: CBS Sports App
  • Ticket Cost: $110.00

Odds

The Tar Heels are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Fighting Irish, according to the latest college football odds.

The line on this game has moved quite a bit since it opened, as it started out with the Fighting Irish as a 1.5-point favorite.

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Over/Under: -110

See college football picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Notre Dame have won all of the games they’ve played against North Carolina in the last eight years.

  • Oct 30, 2021 – Notre Dame 44 vs. North Carolina 34
  • Nov 27, 2020 – Notre Dame 31 vs. North Carolina 17
  • Oct 07, 2017 – Notre Dame 33 vs. North Carolina 10



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