The market will officially open at 4 p.m. on March 9 after a 2½ day negotiating window where teams can speak to outside free agents but they can’t officially execute contracts. As usual, the Ravens’ free-agent focus will be on retaining a couple of their own while trying to target one or two outside additions at positions of need.
The Ravens currently have 11 players due to hit free agency, but that number could change depending on whether they agree to any contract extensions or use the franchise tag over the next month. Below are their potential unrestricted free agents:
Jimmy Clausen, QB
2015 stats: Clausen played in three games and started two of them after the Ravens picked him up off waivers from the Chicago Bears following Joe Flacco’s season-ending knee injury. He completed 49 of 85 passing attempts for 555 yards with two touchdown passes and three interceptions.
Free-agent outlook: Clausen will be looking for a primary backup job and that role isn’t available with the Ravens, who signed Ryan Mallett late in the 2015 season with the intention of him backing up Flacco. However, if Mallett doesn’t do his part off the field, and he has struggled on that end in the past, Clausen becomes a more viable option to return. As it is, the Ravens could try to keep Clausen around as added depth at the position after he played reasonably well for them given the circumstances.
Matt Schaub, QB
2015 stats: He started two games after Flacco went down before sustaining shoulder and rib injuries. Schaub completed 52 of 80 passing attempts for 540 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.
Free-agent outlook: Schaub has said that he wants to play a 13th NFL season and doesn’t have any plans to retire. However, he might have a hard time landing a backup job after he struggled in his two games in 2015. The Ravens appear far more likely to re-sign Clausen, who is younger, more decisive and has a stronger arm, than Schaub.
Chris Givens, WR
2015 stats: In 12 games with the Ravens after they acquired him in an October trade with the St. Louis Rams, Givens caught 19 passes for 346 yards and one touchdown. He was held to two catches or fewer in 12 of the 15 games that he played in 2015.
Free-agent outlook: Givens brought a speed element that the 2015 Ravens lacked, but it didn’t translate into big plays. He struggled on intermediary routes and never appeared on the same page as the Ravens’ cadre of quarterbacks. With Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken, Breshad Perriman, Michael Campanaro, Darren Waller, Jeremy Butler and Chris Matthews all expected to return and the Ravens planning to add at least one wide receiver in free agency or the draft, there doesn’t appear to be room for Givens.
Allen Reisner, TE
2015 stats: Reisner broke his ankle in the preseason opener and spent the entire season on injured reserve.
Free-agent outlook: The Ravens are pretty set at tight end whether Dennis Pitta returns or not. They have Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle and Harold Spears on the active roster. They also could bring back Konrad Reuland, an exclusive rights free agent, and Chase Ford, a restricted free agent. There doesn’t figure to be an opportunity for Reisner or another tight end to crack that group.
Kelechi Osemele, OT/OG
2015 stats: Osemele started 10 games at left guard and four at left tackle for the Ravens. The offensive line had a disappointing year as a whole, but Osemele played pretty well and more than held his own when manning the left tackle position for the first time in his NFL career.
Free-agent outlook: Osemele is the Ravens’ top free agent and he likely will be one of the top offensive linemen on the open market. He’s viewed as one of the top young guards in the NFL and he’s now shown that he can help a team at left tackle as well. The Ravens want to keep Osemele, but the sense is that he could be priced out of Baltimore. The former second-round draft pick is going to do quite well on the open market.
Courtney Upshaw, LB
2015 stats: Forced to play more snaps after Terrell Suggs’ season-ending Achilles’ injury in Week 1, Upshaw started 15 of 16 games. He had 29 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Free-agent outlook: It will be interesting to see how Upshaw’s situation plays out. Ravens free-agent defenders have a history of cashing in. Remember how well guys like Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Arthur Jones did on the open market? However, Upshaw is an unheralded, complementary player and it’s possible that the Ravens will value him more than other teams. Still, the bet here is he finds a nice contract elsewhere as the Ravens go with Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Za’Darius Smith and a pass rusher to be named later at outside linebacker in 2016.
Albert McClellan, LB
2015 stats: The versatile linebacker and special teams standout had 17 tackles and one sack in 13 games.
Free-agent outlook: The Ravens love McClellan who they believe is one of the top special teams players in the league. McClellan is one of the leaders of the Ravens’ widely praised special teams group. Plus, his ability to play both inside and outside linebacker comes in handy. It would be slightly surprising if the Ravens weren’t able to retain McClellan on a modest deal.
Chris Carter, LB
2015 stats: Carter played in two games with the Ravens after he was released in mid-December by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Free-agent outlook: The Ravens look to bolster their special teams every offseason, so it’s not impossible that they’ll re-sign Carter. But it is probably more likely that they’ll depend on first-year players to augment a special teams nucleus that is expected to include McClellan, Anthony Levine, Brynden Trawick, Kyle Juszczyk, Zachary Orr and Arthur Brown.
Shareece Wright, CB
2015 stats: Wright played in 11 games and started seven after he was signed by the Ravens following his release from the San Francisco 49ers. The veteran had 40 tackles and five passes defended.
Free-agent outlook: Wright, who is best friends with and a former high school teammate of Jimmy Smith, wants to stay with the Ravens and they have interest in retaining him. After his nightmarish Ravens debut in which he was torched by the 49ers for two touchdowns, Wright settled down and played well. The Ravens figure to draft a cornerback early in April’s draft and they might even sign one in free agency. However, as things stand, their roster lacks an outside corner to play opposite Smith. Re-signing Wright at a reasonable price makes a lot of sense.
Justin Tucker, K
2015 stats: He made 33 of his 40 field-goal attempts and all 29 of his point-after tries. The seven misses were the most of his career, but six of them came from 50 yards and beyond.
Free-agent outlook: It seems foolish to even include the one-time Pro Bowl kicker on this list because there is little to no chance that the Ravens allow one of their top weapons to hit the open market. If the Ravens can’t work out a long-term extension with Tucker, they’ll likely use the franchise tag on him. Either way, he’s expected to be back.
Morgan Cox, LS
2015 stats: Cox snapped in every game for the Ravens and was selected to the Pro Bowl team for the first time in his career.
Free-agent outlook: Cox is reliable and well respected, and is the unheralded member of the Ravens’ highly successful kicking battery. He should be rewarded with a contract befitting his status as one of the better long snappers in the league.