The Ravens surely took note Thursday when the Detroit Lions released veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson and veteran safety Louis Delmas to free up salary cap space before the start of free agency.
Those two could potentially be the style of players they are looking for at a couple of need positions. But just as important, looking beyond the Xs and Os at dollars and cents, they fit the profile of players they have targeted in the past, specifically last offseason.
Last year, the Ravens targeted players who were cut by their teams in an effort to maximize the number of compensatory picks they would receive this offseason. Players who are cut -- guys like Elvis Dumervil and Chris Canty last year and Burleson and Delmas this year -- don't count in that formula, which is why the Ravens, who lost marquee free agents like Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe to free-spending NFL teams, likely stand to gain four compensatory picks when they are announced at the owners' meetings.
The Ravens have been one of the NFL's best at picking up these extra picks. Since 1994, no franchise has been awarded more compensatory picks than the Ravens, including their final two seasons in Cleveland. They have received 37 over that span.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said last month that the compensatory pick formula is always a consideration when they mull making signings in free agency.
"All of those players that we signed last year were free agents and weren't [unrestricted free agents]," Newsome said. "They were cap causalities of other teams, which allowed us to be able to maintain our compensatory picks for the guys that we lost. So there is a rhyme and reason in how we acquire players -- to continue to maintain our ability to stay strong going forward."
So while the Ravens may or may not have interest in Burleson and Delmas based on how they would fit into their offense and defense, respectively, these are likely the types of players they will consider. So keep an eye on roster cuts around the league in the coming weeks.