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Ravens planning ahead on offensive line with Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele entering contract years

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and General Manager & Executive VP Ozzie Newsome talk about the NFL draft during a luncheon at the team's Owings Mills facility. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun)

The Ravens' offensive line emerged as one of the strongest parts of the team last season.

Quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked only 19 times. And the running game improved markedly under an upgraded zone-blocking system, with running back Justin Forsett rushing for a career-high 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns.

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As successful as last year was, the Ravens are plotting contingency plans for potential change along the offensive line.

Offensive guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele are entering the final years of their contracts. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Yanda is expected to command a contract as one of the highest compensated guards in the league. Osemele is also expected to draw hefty financial offers as a free agent.

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The Ravens may not be able to retain both blockers as they also have pending contract negotiations with Flacco, and cornerback Jimmy Smith and kicker Justin Tucker are both pending unrestricted free agents.

The Ravens do have returning guard John Urschel in place as a potential replacement for Yanda or Osemele should they not be able to work out a deal for either player.

During the team's predraft news conference Wednesday, general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged the need to plan ahead along the offensive line, and he has had those discussions with coach John Harbaugh.

"If some very good offensive linemen are there for us to draft, then we will take them," Newsome said. "And because we've got some guys who are going into the last year of their deal, we realize that. And if we already have ready replacements for them, it makes it a lot easier on me in talking with John about who's the 'next man up.' It's a lot easier to say that."

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The Ravens have met with several top offensive line prospects, including having in LSU offensive tackle La'el Collins and South Carolina offensive guard A.J. Cann into their training complex for official visits. They have also conducted a private workout with Florida center-guard Max Garcia, according to sources.

awilson@baltsun.com
twitter.com/RavensInsider

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