Baltimore Ravens

With the draft now complete, Ravens enter new decision-making period

The draft is over. The offseason schedule – rookie minicamp, organized team activities, mandatory veteran minicamp – is set. In about 6 1/2 weeks, the only real dead period in the NFL schedule will begin.

But until then, Ravens executives and coaches have plenty to do. This week, the first-year class will take the field for the first time together at rookie minicamp. The first of three OTAs will start on May 24, with the final one scheduled for the week of June 6. Then, all 90 players on the Ravens' roster will be on hand at the mandatory minicamp, which goes from June 14-16.


Here are some issues Ravens officials will be working on before training camp begins in late July.

Finalizing the rookie class: That process has already started and should get done over the next couple of weeks. All of the Ravens' rookies – their 11 draft picks, undrafted free agents and even tryout participants – will trickle into the Under Armour Performance Center over the next couple of days for minicamp.


The Ravens will likely announce their undrafted class this week, after players take physicals and sign contracts. There will inevitably be some roster tinkering when coaches get an opportunity to work with rookies and review tape.

Senior vice president of football administration Pat Moriarty will go to work on trying to sign the 11 draft picks, a process that used to be laborious but has become a formality, thanks to the rookie salary slotting system.

Last season, the Ravens had their entire 2015 rookie class signed by May 11, which was less than two weeks after the draft. It's fair to expect the same this year.

Working out the back end of the roster

At the risk of sounding callous, the NFL often features an "out with the old, in with the new" philosophy this time of year. To make room for rookies and undrafted free agents, teams often let go of veterans or back-end roster guys.

You've seen it already this week with the Chicago Bears releasing veteran guard Matt Slauson and safety Antrel Rolle, and with the Washington Redskins moving on from several veterans, including cornerback Chris Culliver and linebacker Desmond Bishop.

The Ravens made two minor moves Tuesday, releasing guard Leon Brown and withdrawing the exclusive rights free agent tender to tight end Konrad Reuland. The moves leave 81 players on the roster, allowing the team to sign as many as nine undrafted free agents. It could make more releases in the days ahead, and particularly after this weekend's minicamp if the team has the intention of signing several of the guys who participated in a tryout basis.

Ravens coaches consistently talk about having the deepest roster possible, but are there enough repetitions this summer for 13 wide receivers? How about seven running backs? And do the Ravens need to add another quarterback to the 90-man roster before the minicamps, with Joe Flacco still rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee? Those are all questions they'll ponder over the next couple of weeks.


Trying to get a deal done with Justin Tucker

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker has been working out on his own, rather than taking part in the team's offseason program. Tucker's wife, Amanda, is due to give birth to the couple's first child soon, and there's also the matter of the long-term deal he wants with the Ravens. It makes plenty of sense for him to stay away.

Tucker signed his $4.572 million franchise tender, but the goal on both sides is a long-term contract extension. The Ravens have until July 15 to do that or Tucker will play the season under the franchise tag.

There have been no recent developments in the contract talks. However, deadlines spur action. Both sides are interested in a deal, and the Ravens have enough salary cap space to make it happen.

While they are it, the Ravens could also use the "down" time to explore a long-term contract extension with nose tackle Brandon Williams, who is a free agent after the 2016 season.

Filling a need with early-summer signing?


Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is known for adding a player or two late in the "offseason." He signed linebacker Daryl Smith for the first time in early June. He signed offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie in August. Offensive lineman Willie Anderson and cornerback Josh Wilson were late additions.

Newsome and team officials evaluate the roster through the various minicamps to get a better gauge of the team needs. The Ravens prefer giving young players the first opportunity to step into bigger roles before looking outside the organization. However, they traditionally add a veteran or two either before or during training camp.

That could lead to the Ravens signing an inside linebacker, perhaps A.J. Hawk, or a veteran cornerback. There's not a whole lot available, but more and more veterans will be hitting the open market in the days ahead. The Ravens have the cap space to make a couple of modest additions.

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Making a decision on left tackle Eugene Monroe

The Ravens spoke last week as if there is no decision to be made. Monroe, the oft-injured starter the past two-plus seasons, will compete with first-round pick Ronnie Stanley this summer and the team will go with the best five offensive linemen.

On the surface, it makes sense. After what happened last season with all the injuries up front, you can understand why the Ravens would want to keep around as many quality offensive linemen as possible. The Ravens want their draft picks — even early first-rounders like Stanley — to earn their spots, too, rather than just sliding into them.


However, it would probably be beneficial for Stanley, the team's left tackle of the future, to get the lion's share of repetitions at the position he'll ultimately play, rather than be moved around to two or three spots. The team will also have to decide whether it will move on from Monroe, who has never been completely on the same page with certain members of the organization. Cutting him would open salary cap space .

It makes sense to keep Monroe now. The Ravens don't imminently need cap space and Monroe is still rehabbing his surgically-repaired shoulder . It's not out of the question that a team that needs an offensive tackle could come calling, and the Ravens might be able to get a mid-to-late round draft pick for Monroe. However, at some point, the Ravens will have to make the call on whether a parting might be beneficial for both sides.