The new NFL season has officially begun, as all 32 teams will begin to tweak their rosters in order to make it to Super Bowl 51. The Ravens are in pretty good shape, barring another injury riddled season. A franchise QB, plenty of talent on their lines, and a high draft pick. However, they’ll need to make some serious decisions this offseason.
Main Players To Cut (Pre-June 1) (Numbers Indicate Cap Space Saved)
S Kendrick Lewis ($933,332)
LB Daryl Smith ($ 2.625 Million)
QB Ryan Mallett ($ 1.5 Million)
RT Ricky Wagner ($ 1.647 Million)
Total Cap Space Created – $ 6.705 Million
Main Players to Cut (Post- June 1)
TE Dennis Pitta ($5 Million)
RB Justin Forsett ($3 Million) – This one may catch people off guard, but paying this much for a 30 year old back just doesn’t make sense. Buck Allen looks like he can handle the load, and running backs are incredibly replaceable.
Total Cap Space Created – $8 Million
Players to Re-Sign
Here are the players that the Ravens ABSOLUTELY need to re-sign, no ifs ands or buts.
None – Honestly, the Ravens have a few very good free agents, but I see 0 that they ABSOLUTELY need to shell out for.
Should Probably Re-sign
These are the players that the Ravens should definitely bring back, but if another team offers a ridiculous deal for them, they should just cut their losses.
K Justin Tucker – Justin “Big Cajones” Tucker. The fan favorite is one of the most clutch kickers in the league. Still, if another team is dumb enough to give him a massive contract, the Ravens should just allow it. No kicker, and I mean NO kicker, is worth more than 5 million a year.
LB Courtney Upshaw – Finally coming off of his rookie contract, Upshaw will likely be looking for a raise. He still has a ton of potential, but the Ravens can’t shell out too much for him.
OT Kelechi Osemele – Osemele has been very serviceable for the Ravens, and would complete their offensive line/provide excellent depth. He’s worth bringing on for a few years.
WR Kamar Aiken – He’s restricted, so this one shouldn’t be too hard. However, there’s VERY few receivers in the league that I’d consider “MUST re-sign.” He did have a fantastic season last year.
LS Morgan Cox – Long-snappers are under-appreciated, but the Ravens should keep Cox on for now.
Re-sign for the Right Price
The Free Agents that are worth bringing back, but only if it’s for a bargain
CB Shareece Wright – He isn’t a TERRIBLE back-up CB. With guys returning from injury, Wright could continue to be a solid #3 or #4 for the Ravens.
The theme of the Ravens free agency should be Depth. Depth. Depth. That being said, there’s very few positions where they need to shell out a ton for a high price free agent, the one position however…
Sign a Big Time Safety
The Ravens secondary has been a mess these past few years. The cornerbacks continue to get hurt, as do the safeties. An anchor back there could really change everything, so who are some of the options? Any of these guys could immensely boost the Ravens secondary;
Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Eric Weddle, Eric Berry, Rodney McLeod, Tony Jefferson
Some other more realistic names include Chris Conte, Walter Thurmond, David Bruton, and Husain Abdullah.
Aside from that, the Ravens should really just sign some mid-tier veterans to solidify certain positions. Look for some CBs, o-linemen, maybe a veteran RB to back up/teach Buck Allen.
Positions of Need: WR, CB, OG, Edge Rusher
Honestly, the Ravens are in position to take the best player available at #6. They don’t have many GLARING holes, but they could certainly use a huge playmaker on either side of the ball. Here’s my little “Big board” for the Ravens, for who they should hope drops to them at #6.
- DE Joey Bosa
- OT Laremy Tunsil
- CB/S Jalen Ramsey
- WR Laquon Treadwell
- CB Vernon Hargreaves III
- OT Ronnie Stanley
- DE Shaq Lawson
- LB Myles Jack
- OT/OG Taylor Decker
- LB Reggie Ragland
If they want to go for NEED, they should pounce on Ramsey or Hargreaves; these are the two best defensive backs in this class, and it really isn’t even close. After that there’s a significant drop off (although I do like some of the 2nd/3rd round prospects). If they want a player-maker, they can take either a big pass rusher OR Treadwell, who stands above all other WRs. Imagine Treadwell, Perriman, Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken? Plus Crockette Gilmore and Maxx Williams? That’s terrifying to think about…
If the Ravens can retain their key pieces, draft well, and sign one of those high profile safeties I talked about, they’ll instantly become one of the most well-rounded rosters in the league. After that, all they have to do is pray for health. If healthy, you’re looking at a team with an elite offensive line, a great receiving corps, a solid rushing attack, a dominant front 7, and a young/hungry secondary. All of that, plus a playoff tested QB and a great coach, and this could seriously be a Super Bowl contender next season.
Brian Sullivan – @TheMadManSports
Photo Credit – http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2014/8/13/5980201/baltimore-ravens-breakout-players-2014-arthur-brown