The Baltimore Ravens won't have Michael Brockers on their retooled defensive line after all, and now he's headed back to Los Angeles.
Baltimore reached agreement on a three-year contract with the Rams free agent last week. But the deal was never sealed in part because Brockers could not take a physical at the team's training facility due to restrictions by the NFL regarding the coronavirus.
The Ravens had concerns over a lingering ankle sprain Brockers sustained last season. Brockers' agent, Scott Casterline, had two independent doctors — including Dallas Cowboys head physician Dr. Dan Cooper — examine the eight-year veteran.
Casterline reported that both doctors found arthritis in the ankle but insisted that Brockers “can play with it."
That evidently wasn't good enough for Baltimore. Unable to verify the extent of the injury through an examination by their own doctors, the Ravens sought to amend the proposed contract.
“I didn't know why Baltimore took a hard stance on that," Casterline told The Associated Press on Friday. “I think the coronavirus, not allowing their doctors to get their hands on Michael, was the key thing. But I had good resources to objectively look at him."
No settlement could be reached, and early Friday morning the Ravens wrote on Twitter: “The Ravens will not sign Michael Brockers as previously reported after being unable to come to an agreement on terms of a contract."
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Casterline's view was that the Ravens asked for too much of a concession for an injury that really should not have been that big an issue.
“They came back and tried to restructure what we agreed to, to really eliminate all risk," Casterline said, “and I just didn't feel like that was fair, especially when we had other people saying he would be fine."
Shortly after the Ravens shut down the deal, Brockers agreed upon a contract with the Rams that Casterline described as “very close to what the Ravens initially offered."
Brockers quoted rapper Biggie Smalls on Instagram: “I’m going, going back, back to Cali, Cali.”
“If he couldn't play in L.A., he wanted to play in Baltimore," Casterline said. “He originally wanted to be in L.A., but at the beginning of free agency it didn't look like they could get where we thought his market value was or close to it. That changed, so he's happy to go back to L.A. “
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Brockers made the move from St. Louis to Los Angeles with the Rams in 2016, and he has started at least 14 games in seven consecutive seasons while playing all along their defensive line. Only long snapper Jake McQuaide has been the with the Rams longer than Brockers among their active players.
The likable locker room leader was a key run stopper in the Rams’ 3-4 defense for the past three seasons alongside Aaron Donald, doing much of the line's dirty work while Donald racked up accolades.
Brockers will team with Donald and returning starter Sebastian Joseph-Day on the line in new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley’s scheme alongside newcomer A’Shawn Robinson, who joined the Rams in free agency from Detroit.
Donald has been vocal on social media regarding the Rams moves this offseason. After the team released veteran running back Todd Gurley last week, Donald tweeted out the angry face emoji. Following the departures of free agent linebackers Cory Littleton and Dante Fowler Jr. to the Las Vegas Raiders and Atlanta Falcons, respectively, Donald tweeted out the face palming emoji.
On Friday morning, after NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport broke the news of Brockers return to the Rams, Donald replied with a Bill Murray standing ovation gif.
Losing Brockers is a blow to the Ravens, who envisioned the eight-year veteran as part of a defensive line with Brandon Williams and newcomer Calais Campbell, obtained in a trade with Jacksonville.
After reaching an agreement with Brockers, the Ravens gave up on retaining free agent Michael Pierce, who signed with the Vikings, and traded Chris Wormley to Pittsburgh. That leaves a sizable void that Baltimore thought had been filled by Brockers, who last year had a career-high 63 tackles.
AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Los Angeles contributed to this report as well.