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John Harbaugh says Ravens will closely monitor veteran free-agent market

Ravens could use reinforcements at offensive tackle, cornerback

By Aaron Wilson

The Baltimore Sun

1:44 PM EDT, June 1, 2014

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The conversations between coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome about the Ravens' roster have brought them to a conclusion.

They're going to closely monitor the veteran free-agent market, particularly now that it's June 1 and signing an unrestricted free agent won't count against the compensatory draft pick formula.

The Ravens considered making an offer for running back LeGarrette Blount before he signed a two-year, $3.85 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but one of the reasons they never made a formal offer after talking with him was that he would have cost them a compensatory draft pick next year.

The two positions the Ravens are expected to watch the most: offensive tackle and cornerback.

"Sure, and I think we’re aware of the guys that are still out there, free agents that would be more favorable to sign after June 1 and all that," Harbaugh said during the Ravens' organized team activity last week. "We’re going to be watching the waiver wire real close. We’re going to try and get better.

"We had a conversation, Ozzie and I, and I like to think on principle that we really believe this: We want to build as strong of a 53-man roster as we possibly can, and as we do that, try to get stronger every chance we can get. We’ll be looking.”

One player who the Ravens will keep an eye on is offensive tackle Eric Winston.

There has been no movement yet toward getting involved with the former Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs starter. However, there has been backchannel talk with Winston, according to sources.

Winston, the president of the NFL Players Association, played for Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak with the Texans. Winston, 30, has started every game since 2007, including last season with the Cardinals and the previous year with the Chiefs.

Other offensive tackles available from a not-so-intriguing group include: Tyson Clabo, Jeremy Trueblood and Ryan Harris.

The Ravens are giving Rick Wagner, a fifth-round draft pick last season from Wisconsin who gained some experience and improved gradually throughout his rookie season in spot action, the first crack at winning the right tackle job.

They'll likely give him every opportunity to claim the spot, but will also look at Ryan Jensen, a former Division II All-American who has been shifted to tackle from center-guard, and Jah Reid. They always have the option of moving left guard Kelechi Osemele back to right tackle, and that might be their best choice ultimately.

The Ravens lost veteran cornerback Corey Graham in free agency to the Buffalo Bills, and they are auditioning Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson as his potential replacement as their primary nickel back. The Ravens didn't draft a cornerback, but they have signed some undrafted free agents, including Sammy Seamster, Deji Olatoye, Avery Patterson and Tramain Jacobs.

If the Ravens want to add an experienced cornerback, Asante Samuel, Drayton Florence, Jabari Greer, Terrell Thomas, Aaron Ross, Corey Webster, Dunta Robinson are among the available free agents. Thomas recently worked out for the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers.

At least one teammate expressed confidence in Brown and Jackson.

"They’re going to be big for us coming up this year, knowing that we didn’t take any corners in the draft," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "Ozzie knows he has two great, young guys that are coming up. You’ve got Asa Jackson who can play the nickel and outside, but mostly better inside.

"And Chykie Brown has been playing good. He’s had his chance to get out on the field, but now he gets thrown in, and it’s his. He’s going to get to show you all what he’s capable of."