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Ravens remain patient as guards continue to leave market

Baltimore RavensFootballCarl NicksEvan MathisNew Orleans SaintsAnthony Herrera

The Ravens have said all along that they would be patient in free agency and not panic to fill any perceived holes.

They've been true to their word.

When left guard Ben Grubbs opted to sign with the New Orleans Saints about 48 hours into free agency, the expectation was that the Ravens would move immediately to find a replacement for the Pro Bowl performer. It wasn't necessarily immediate but the Ravens didn't wait too long to bring in Evan Mathis, regarded as the third best free agent guard behind Carl Nicks (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Grubbs.

However, Mathis eventually re-signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, leaving the Ravens in their current position: sitting back and evaluating their options while pledging to give tackle Jah Reid an opportunity to win the left guard job in training camp.

Even if the Ravens draft a guard later this month - and it would be mildly surprising if they didn't - they still would like to add one or two veteran offensive linemen before the start of the season. However, they've made it perfectly clear through their words and actions that they are in no rush.

Several agents who represent free agent guards have been in regular communication with the Ravens, who are telling people that they are content to give Reid an opportunity, and they don't have a whole lot of money to dump into the position.

Meanwhile, the free agent guard market continues to thin out. On an otherwise quiet Friday in the NFL, former Arizona Cardinals guard Deuce Lutui signed with the Seattle Seahawks, and former St. Louis Rams guard Jakob Bell agreed to terms with the Cincinnati Bengals.    

I never got the impression that the Ravens had much interest in either, but the point is that their options are shrinking.

Among the free agent guards still available are Vernon Carey, Anthony Herrera, Kyle Kosier, Chilo Rachal, Jake Scott, Eric Steinbach, Bobbie Williams and Floyd Womack

I've said all along that I feel Scott, who has started every game for seven straight seasons, is the Ravens' best option, but he also might be their priciest. Rachal probably has the most upside and is just 26 years old, but he also is penalty prone and was benched for parts of last season by San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who undoubtedly has given his brother, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, a scouting report.

Steinbach and Williams, who have both had some solid seasons in the AFC North, also could be good stopgaps. However, both missed either all of last season or part of it because of injuries and the Ravens would obviously have to be convinced that both are healthy.

In listening to Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome at Wednesday's draft luncheon, it appears that team officials are willing to wait until they have either more options or cheaper ones. The Ravens are currently less than $2 million under the salary cap.

"I think the next [free agent] phase will be after the draft," Newsome said. "Once teams draft some players and get a chance to have them in their rookie minicamps, then I think there will be some more guys put on the waiver wire. And then once you get into training camp and you find out some of your players have improved over the offseason program, some veterans could be put out on the street. That is how we were able to get [Andre] Gurode and people like that last year. There are still two more waivers - after the draft and at the 53 [roster] cut."   

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Baltimore RavensFootballCarl NicksEvan MathisNew Orleans SaintsAnthony Herrera
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