Ravens officials made it clear at this week’s NFL meetings that their primary focus over the next month is not what remains on the free-agent market.
With 12 selections in next month’s draft, the organization is busy evaluating college players who will help replenish a roster that has been hit hard by free agency, releases and retirements.
But with a little over $7 million of remaining salary-cap space, the Ravens are still looking to add a couple of free agents, hoping to find a couple of bargains that will help fill some holes.
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“We can be active in free agency to an extent,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said this week. “We’re not going to be high rollers, I don’t think. We don’t have that kind of money.”
Here is a look at what remains on the free-agent market in five roles of need for the Ravens: wide receiver, offensive tackle, pass rusher, inside linebacker and safety.
Current Ravens at position: Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, LaQuan Williams, David Reed, Deonte Thompson, Tommy Streeter, Tori Gurley
Top free agent options (Most recent team): Brandon Lloyd (Patriots), Julian Edelman (Patriots), Darrius Heyward-Bey (Raiders), Kevin Walter (Texans), Laurent Robinson (Jaguars).
Outlook: Harbaugh brought up the Ravens potentially drafting a wide receiver and he also expressed his confidence in his younger pass catchers so it’s probably unlikely they are seriously considering many of the free agent options. There’s not much help there anyway although a guy like Edelman would give Joe Flacco another weapon in the slot. If the Ravens do anything here, it probably won’t be at much of a cost. They are committed to seeing what guys like Doss and Thompson could do with more playing time.
Current Ravens at position: Michael Oher, Ramon Harewood, Jah Reid, Jack Cornell, David Mims
Top free agent options: Sebastian Vollmer (Patriots), Andre Smith (Bengals), Eric Winston (Chiefs), Bryant McKinnie (Ravens), Jammal Brown (Redskins)
Outlook: There have been no indications that the Ravens are interested in spending big money and making a long-term commitment to a left tackle right now so that probably rules out Vollmer and Smith. The most likely scenario is bringing back McKinnie, who held up so well in the playoffs, on a short-term deal. The Ravens also figure to address the position early in the draft. Harbaugh said that the
Ravens haven’t ruled out moving Oher back to left tackle, where he played in the regular season though the Ravens’ most effective alignment in 2012-13 featured Oher at right tackle and Kelechi Osemele at left guard.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER/PASS RUSHER
Current Ravens at position: Terrell Suggs, Courtney Upshaw, Adrian Hamilton, Michael McAdoo, Spencer Atkins, D.J. Bryant
Top free agent options (Most recent team, age, key 2012 stats): Elvis Dumervil (Broncos), Dwight
Freeney (Colts), James Harrison (Steelers), Osi Umenyiora (Giants), John Abraham (Falcons)
Outlook: The Ravens have made finding a pass rusher to pair with Suggs and help replace Paul Kruger a definite priority and there are several at their disposal. By all accounts, Dumervil is the guy that they want. However, he is probably the most expensive option and his first choice is reportedly to return to the Broncos who released Dumervil after the infamous fax machine incident. The Ravens have always liked Freeney and he would be a solid fallback option. With several accomplished pass rushers available, it’s very hard to see the Ravens not landing one of them.
Current Ravens at position: Jameel McClain, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Nigel Carr
Top free agent options: Karlos Dansby (Dolphins), D.J. Williams (Broncos), Larry Grant (49ers), Tim Dobbins (Texans), Takeo Spikes (Chargers)
Outlook: The Ravens lost their top two inside linebackers with Ray Lewis retiring and Dannell Ellerbe departing in free agency and McClain’s health is a major question mark. But there’s not much help at this position on a free agent market, leaving the draft as the most likely avenue to fill the void. Dansby is a solid and experienced player and he’d help but he won’t come cheap. Long-time Chicago Bears star Brian Urlacher is also available but he doesn’t seem to fit the Ravens’ offseason blueprint of getting younger and quicker on defense.
Current Ravens at position: James Ihedigbo, Christian Thompson, Emanuel Cook, Anthony Levine, Omar Brown
Top free agent options: Charles Woodson (Packers), Michael Huff (Raiders), Quintin Mikell (Rams), Dawan Landry (Jaguars), Kerry Rhodes (Cardinals)
Outlook: Huff, who the Ravens loved coming out of the 2006 Draft, is expected at the Under Armour Performance Facility any day now and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Ravens don’t let him leave without a
contract. Their two starting safeties (Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard) are both gone and veteran reserve Sean Considine is a free agent. The draft has several talented safeties and Ravens will likely select at least one but they also could use another veteran at the position. Thompson, Cook, Levine and Brown all have little to no NFL experience.