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Kelechi Osemele to leave Ravens, sign with Raiders when free-agent market opens

In this Aug. 3, 2015, file photo, Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele lines up for a play during training camp in Baltimore.
In this Aug. 3, 2015, file photo, Baltimore Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele lines up for a play during training camp in Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)

Kelechi Osemele apparently doesn't need to wait until 4 p.m. Wednesday to decide where he'll play football in 2016 and beyond.

Osemele, a starter on the Ravens offensive line for the past four seasons, has an agreement in principle to join the Oakland Raiders, according to a report from NFL Network. Pending free agents aren't allowed to officially sign a contract until the market opens at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

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It's expected that Osemele's new deal will pay him between $10 million and $11 million per year.

The Ravens, who made an aggressive attempt to re-sign Osemele, according to coach John Harbaugh, acknowledged in recent days that they weren't going to be able to retain the offensive lineman given the interest in him around the league from a number of teams with extensive salary cap space. Osemele was considered by many to be the top free-agent offensive lineman.

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Still, his pending departure is a significant blow to the Ravens, who now have to fill a void on their offensive line.

The Ravens had hoped to re-sign Osemele and install him as their left tackle, the position that the 6-foot-5, 330-pound lineman played over the final three games in 2015. Their failure to agree to a deal with the 2012 second-round draft pick could mean that the team keeps oft-injured left tackle Eugene Monroe or uses the sixth overall pick in April's draft on Notre Dame's Ronnie Stanley.

The only two other options on their roster are 2014 undrafted free agent James Hurst, who has struggled as a starter the past two seasons, and 2015 undrafted free agent De'Ondre Wesley, who is considered a developmental prospect.

Osemele, a former Iowa State standout, was an immediate contributor for the Ravens, starting all 16 games and all four playoff contests during the team's run to a Super Bowl in his rookie season. Osemele played right tackle in the regular season and then moved to left guard for the playoffs.

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A physical lineman who loves playing to the whistle and finishing his blocks, Osemele developed into one of the best young left guards in the NFL with the Ravens. He battled through a significant back injury that limited him to seven games in 2013 and returned as a better player in 2014, pairing with Marshal Yanda to give the Ravens one of the top guard tandems in the league.

With Monroe injured and Hurst struggling, the Ravens moved Osemele to left tackle for the final three games of this past season, and he held his own. His versatility surely helped his market value, even though most interested teams seemingly projected him as a guard.

At the NFL Scouting Combine last month, Harbaugh said that the Ravens envisioned Osemele as their left tackle.

"That's something we talked about from the day he got drafted here, that he could play left tackle and then the opportunity came up to put him there," Harbaugh said. "But we still have Eugene. He's still in our program. We'll put the best five guys out there and build the best offensive line that we can, no matter who is here and who is not here. But as a coach, I really want K.O. here. I hope he feels the same way."

Osemele seemingly enjoyed his time with the Ravens, but he couldn't resist the money that was available elsewhere.

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