Even in the offseason, fans often tweet and email questions to Ravens reporter Jeff Zrebiec. Here are some of the topics coming up most frequently in those questions, and Jeff's takes on the subjects.
Could the Ravens afford free agent cornerback Josh Norman?
General manager Ozzie Newsome always says if there is an available player the team likes and needs, the Ravens will make it work financially. The team currently has roughly $12 million of salary cap space, although nearly half of that is needed to pay the rookie class. With some juggling, they could probably fit Norman in for 2016. But the bigger issue is how much a huge contract would handicap them in the future and potentially prevent them from paying defensive standouts like Brandon Williams and C.J. Mosley.
As much as the Ravens would love another cornerback – and Norman is one of the game's best – it's hard to believe they would be willing to shell out anything close to the $14-$15 million annually that the former Carolina Panther is reportedly seeking. The Ravens traditionally do their due diligence on the top available guys, but there is no indication to this point they will be primary suitors for Norman.
Are the Ravens switching to a 4-3 defense?
There's been a lot of speculation on this topic, especially with the possibility of the Ravens drafting Ohio State pass rusher Joey Bosa, who is more comfortable in a 4-3 defense than a 3-4. The reality is the Ravens have always incorporated 4-3 concepts into what they do defensively. You ask members of the defensive coaching staff and they'd likely tell you the Ravens play both a 3-4 and a 4-3, depending on the personnel that is on the field. Every offseason, the Ravens review their schemes and their personnel and make adjustments. It's possible we'll see more 4-3 looks going forward, but it would be surprising if there were drastic changes to the defensive schemes.
Why are the Ravens working out all these quarterbacks?
Even with Joe Flacco entrenched as the starter, the Ravens believe in adding a developmental quarterback every couple of years. With Flacco coming off a significant knee injury and unlikely to participate in the various minicamps, and backup Ryan Mallett entering the last year of his contract, this year would be a good year to do it. That they met yesterday with Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, a projected first-round pick, is interesting. However, it remains unlikely the Ravens will use a first- or second-day pick on a quarterback. It doesn't hurt to look around and gather information for the future, especially if Lynch is a guy they wind up facing twice a year.
Would the Ravens trade up in the draft to take Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey?
Two weeks ago, my answer would have been an emphatic, 'No.' But with it now clear Ramsey won't go any earlier than third, it's become more plausible. Don't get too excited: I still think it's unlikely. Last month, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti shot down the idea of moving up in the first round, saying the team's draft picks this year are too valuable. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta mentioned that the key to the draft will be cashing in those four fourth-round selections. In other words, Ravens officials don't sound like they have any plans to trade picks. Even moving from sixth to fourth, which the Ravens would likely have to do to get Ramsey, would cost them a couple of picks. They really like Ramsey. I just don't know they like him that much to upset the rest of their draft haul to get him.
Is trading back still an option?
The Ravens really wanted to come out of the first round with an impact defensive player, and the two recent trades at the front of the draft have guaranteed that one of the following four players – Ramsey, Bosa, Oregon defensive end DeForest Buckner and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack – will be available to them at six. And the chances of Mississippi left tackle Laremy Tunsil still being on the board at six have improved dramatically the past couple of weeks. That's a win any way you look at it, but Newsome could still entertain opportunities to trade back -- and there will be opportunities.
A team like the Cleveland Browns or Buffalo Bills might want to get in front of the San Francisco 49ers, who pick seventh, for an opportunity to draft Lynch; or a team like the Miami Dolphins might want to move up and grab Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott.
It will be tough for the Ravens to move back even a couple of spots if it means losing out on the opportunity to get an elite defensive player. However, a cadre of picks in return would make it much easier to swallow for Newsome and company. If the Ravens can move back four or five spots, get a couple of picks in return and still have a shot at picking up offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves or a pass rusher like Noah Spence or Leonard Floyd, it will be something they'd absolutely consider. But their asking price to move back will be extremely high.
How have the questions about Myles Jack's knee affected the Ravens' draft plans?
The reports about Jack's knee following his medical recheck last week were mixed. Jack told ESPN everything went great and there were no issues, while NFL Network reported some teams remain concerned about the former UCLA standout, and question how long Jack will be able to hold up. I honestly don't know where the Ravens stand after getting the medical information back from their doctors. I do know that the Ravens love Jack as a player and they have a clear need for an inside linebacker alongside Mosley. But picking sixth, I'd have to imagine if there is any doubt about Jack's health, the Ravens will pass. They just can't miss on this pick.