MIKE PRESTON

Some concerns could be alleviated if the Ravens make moves this week

Mike Preston: Will the Ravens make moves this week as free agency starts?

The 2016 NFL season ended a little more than a month ago, and the Ravens have done little since then.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is known for his deliberate and methodical approach to free agency, but his current slow pace is a cause for concern.

There have to be some anxious people over at The Castle, and head coach John Harbaugh has to be feeling some pressure. His teams haven't been to the playoffs in three of the last four years and if that happens again, he'll probably be seeking employment elsewhere.

So, the next 72 to 96 hours are important to this franchise, and there will be indications of where the Ravens are headed in the 2017 season. Conversations and negotiations can begin between teams and free agents on Tuesday and deals can be announced as early as Thursday afternoon.

The Ravens have been quiet so far as opposed to some teams that have given franchise designations to players and other teams that have re-signed players to contract extensions. With the Ravens, they either have done very little or are keeping their plans a secret.

"I'm not quite sure of what they are doing," said one NFL agent. "They make initial contact and then they disappear like they are in this feeling-out process. They need to remember players aren't dying to play for the Ravens anymore like years ago. Their shine has somewhat faded."

There are other concerns. In years past, the Ravens have cut players or made other moves seven to 10 days before free agency started, so the question is why haven't they cut veterans like cornerback Kyle Arrington ($2.1 million base salary in 2017) and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil ($6 million) who are no longer major contributors to this team?

Why haven't they renegotiated the contracts of both safety Lardarius Webb and tight end Dennis Pitta, who still have some value but are not worth the $5.5 million each is expected to receive in base salary in 2017?

The Ravens haven't cut or restructured the contract of center Jeremy Zuttah. Does that mean they want him back after a below-average 2016 or will they pursue former New York Jets center Nick Mangold in free agency?

At the end of the regular season the Ravens declared that nose guard Brandon Williams and right offensive tackle Rick Wagner were priorities, but did the team make them legitimate top offers?

Newsome has a history of low-balling players at the beginning of negotiations and that has irritated agents. If both Williams and Wagner, as expected, hit the open market they might not return to the Ravens. Williams' loss would have significant impact.

It will be interesting to see what the Ravens do in free agency. Their needs haven't changed from previous years in terms of finding a receiver, cornerback and pass rusher. The overall talent in free agency isn't as good as years past, but the Ravens have some options with receivers Vincent Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon and Brandon Marshall available.

Marshall became of particular interest after former Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr., who retired at the end of last season, said over the weekend that Marshall would be a good fit here. The Ravens probably could absorb the personality. In the past, quarterback Joe Flacco has had to deal with the moodiness of receivers Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Smith and Mike Wallace.

But Marshall has a history of legal problems, including nine reported incidents of domestic violence against women and three arrests for domestic violence. Marshall, though, was never convicted, but the timing may not be right for the Ravens especially after the Ray Rice incident in 2014.

At the end-of-the-season press conference, team owner Steve Bisciotti said he would not take a player who had been involved in domestic abuse cases.

So, it will be hard to see that happening. But, at this point, the Ravens need to make something happen. A lot of teams overpay in the first couple of days of free agency, which is why Newsome waits.

"Right player, right price" is his mantra.

That might have to change soon. The Ravens don't want to dig a hole so deep they can't get out.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

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