INDIANAPOLIS -- — The ascending pass-rushing skills of outside linebacker Paul Kruger have probably made him a luxury the Ravens can't afford to retain.
The unrestricted free agent is coming off a career breakthrough season with nine sacks during the regular season and another 4 1/2 sacks in the playoffs, including two during the Ravens' Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Kruger could quickly find himself out of the Ravens' price range and off the roster in free agency where he's expected to command a contract in excess of $40 million. The Ravens are in a salary-cap bind that could become even tighter should they have to use either a $20.46 million exclusive franchise tender or a nonexclusive $14.6 million franchise tender on quarterback Joe Flacco.
At this time, there's no meeting scheduled between the Ravens and Kruger's agent, David Dunn, at the NFL scouting combine.
Although Kruger would ideally like to remain with the franchise that drafted him in the second round out of Utah four years ago, he's going to be in heavy demand from several NFL teams.
Kruger displayed his aggressiveness and speed in pursuit when he chased down 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for a loss of 10 yards during a 34-31 win.
"The Ravens know I want to come back," Kruger told The Baltimore Sun. "The chips will fall where they may. I don't know what else I can do. I just have to let it happen and let my agent do his job. I would love to be here, but it's not up to me.
"I've never been through the process before. I don't know what to expect. I'm sure I will pull my hair out a little bit at first, but this is a good problem to have."