Although the Ravens have resolved a potentially sticky contract situation with quarterback Joe Flacco through a landmark $120.6 million deal, the Super Bowl champions still have several pending roster decisions.
Besides attempting to retain unrestricted free agent inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and monitoring their other free agents, the Ravens have yet to assign tenders to their restricted free agent class of six players.
That includes tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, long snapper Morgan Cox, wide receiver David Reed and offensive lineman Ramon Harewood.
The Ravens have until March 12 at 3:59:59 Eastern to assign tenders to prevent those players from becoming unrestricted free agents. The Ravens historically have sent out the tenders in the days leading up to the deadline.
If another team signs any of the players to an offer sheet, the Ravens have the right of first refusal to match any contract. Restricted free agents who receive a tender have until June 17 to accept a qualifying offer.
There are three levels of restricted tenders:
1. Right of first refusal only or original draft round compensation, which carries a cost of $1.323 million.
2. Second-round draft compensation tender level for right of first refusal, which carries a cost of $2.023 million.
3. First-round draft compensation tender level for right of first refusal, which carries a cost of $2.879 million.
Here's a look at how the Ravens may proceed with each of their restricted free agents:
Dennis Pitta: After catching 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season, the sure-handed former fourth-round draft pick from BYU caught 19 more passes in the playoffs for 163 yards and three touchdowns with one score in the Super Bowl. The Ravens won't risk losing Pitta by going original round and are expected to use the second-round tender. That could possibly tempt another team to submit an offer sheet since Pitta is a good player in the prime of his career.
For another $856,000, the Ravens would eliminate any risk by assigning Pitta a first-round tender. With $11.463 million available under the salary cap limit of $123 million, though, the Ravens may have to roll the dice considering that they don't have Ellerbe under contract and are in a tight situation.
Ed Dickson: A former third-round draft pick from Oregon, Dickson caught 21 passes for 255 yards and no touchdowns. A valuable blocker, Dickson is expected to get an original round tender of $1.323 million.
Arthur Jones: The former fifth-round draft pick from Syracuse registered a career-high 47 tackles and 4 1/ sacks with one forced fumble. Even though the restricted free agent class is traditionally slow, an original-round tender could mean losing Jones. So, the Ravens likely have no choice but to go with a second-round tender of $2.023 million. That's a nice raise for Jones, who made the minimum $540,000 last season.
Ramon Harewood: A former sixth-round draft pick from Morehouse, the 6-foot-6, 334-pound offensive lineman started the first five games prior to being benched. He played in six games last season. Harewood is a borderline decision for the Ravens, a player who still has untapped potential for new run-game coordinator Juan Castillo. If the Ravens non-tender Harewood, they could bring him back for roughly the minimum of $490,000 since he spent two seasons previously on injured reserve.
David Reed: A former fifth-round draft pick from Utah, Reed caught a career-high five passes in 66 yards with four special-teams tackles after being activated from the physically unable to perform list one year after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. Reed isn't expected to get a tender unless the Ravens clear out more salary-cap space. A good special-tems player, he could return at a lower salary.
Morgan Cox: Cox went undrafted out of Tennessee. The Ravens would ideally like this reliable long snapper back at a lower price than the low tender of $1.323 million.