Carroll County Times

Ravens set for free agency

At the beginning of every offseason, Baltimore Ravens brass meet for a weekend at owner Steve Bisciotti's home in Jupiter, Fla.

Bisciotti is there. So are team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta and vice president of football administration Pat Moriarity.

During that weekend, the Ravens go over where they are from a salary cap-standpoint. They analyze their roster. They also further identify areas they feel need to be addressed and put together a plan for how to improve in those areas.

Tuesday marks the first day they can truly begin to follow through on that plan. Free agency begins at 4 p.m.

"We had a lot of failures on the football field - offense and defense - and so I know they've got their work cut out for them," Bisciotti said in January, shortly after his team finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Bisciotti was referring to the offseason as a whole, but free agency in itself will be important for Baltimore. The Ravens have already publicly talked about some of the areas they would like to address.

They want to add weapons for quarterback Joe Flacco. They want to add more talent at running back.

They want to get better along the offensive line. They also want to add a play-making free safety.

And while they traditionally have not been an aggressive team when it comes to free agency, this year could be different.

"I think this year we will probably use every avenue to make our team better," Newsome said at the NFL scouting combine in February. "If there's a free agent that we feel like can come in and impact our football team, that's someone we would be attracted to. We will use every avenue this year to make our team better."

Fortunately for the Ravens, they have more room under the salary cap to work with than they have other years around this time.

"We have a chance to do some things," Harbaugh said earlier this month.

Baltimore's first priority remains retaining some of its impending free agents.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe and inside linebacker Daryl Smith are two in particular the Ravens remain hopeful of re-signing.

Two sources told the Times last week that negotiations had reached a standstill between Monroe and Baltimore. But some of the other teams that looked like potential fits for Monroe are reportedly set to go in another direction, which could lead to Monroe re-joining the Ravens.

The team has also expressed interest in re-signing cornerback Corey Graham, right tackle Michael Oher, wide receiver Jacoby Jones and defensive lineman Arthur Jones, although each of those players could command more money elsewhere than what Baltimore is willing to pay.

However, as it stands now, the Ravens are reportedly $25 million under the cap, which should leave room to be active in free agency even if they find a way to retain some of their own players.

In particular, Baltimore could use free agency to add at least one new weapon for Flacco. The Ravens want to add a Wes Welker- or Anquan Boldin-like wide receiver in the slot. They are also interested in adding a physical receiver to complement Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown.

Eric Decker will likely want more than what Baltimore will want to pay. Julian Edelman may be too expensive for the Ravens as well. But Edelman, Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, and James Jones are all potentially players Baltimore could go after.

Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, and Andre Roberts are some other notable receivers set to become unrestricted free agents.

The Ravens may prefer to wait and fill some of their other needs through the draft, but LeGarrette Blount and Toby Gerhart both fit the bill of the big, power running back Harbaugh has expressed an interest in adding.

Baltimore would also likely go after a free agent left tackle if Monroe ends up signing elsewhere and could pursue a left guard, center, or right tackle even if Monroe is re-signed.

At free safety, the Ravens likely will not pay the $9 million per year that Jarius Byrd is reportedly seeking, but Antoine Bethea could be of interest.

Bethea, 29, has been a starter for the Indianapolis Colts since his rookie season in 2006. He is from nearby Virginia.

"We've got some options, and we've got a little bit of room," Harbaugh said. "You want to be smart and you want to make the most of your resources and put the best team we can together. ...

"It ends up being about using your resources in a way that's the very best for your team, to make us as strong [a] team as we can possibly be. That's what every decision is for, and that's what we're trying to do right now."