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Ravens Free Agency Primer

Posted Mar 7, 2014

NFL free agency opens next week, and here’s a look at what the Ravens could do.

The NFL free agency spree is about to begin.

Teams around the league will begin aggressively re-shaping their roster with high-priced acquisitions from the open market.

The Ravens are typically quiet in the early days of free agency, but they could wade into the frenzy this year with more money to spend. The Ravens reportedly have $25 million in cap space.

“We’ve got some options and we’ve got a little bit of room,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re trying to be aggressive about it, and because we have more salary cap space than we’ve had in a year since [2008], for sure, we have a chance to do some things.”

In addition to luring players to Baltimore, the Ravens will also try to keep their current free agents from going elsewhere. Several starters are slated to hit the open market, and the Ravens have extended “aggressive offers” to several of them.

“Hopefully something will happen here before Tuesday,” Harbaugh said. “And if things don’t happen before Tuesday, then we’re going to have to build a team the way we build it in other directions. But we’re working really hard to get that done right now. We want to keep our guys.”

Here’s an overview of everything you need to know when the market opens Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Ravens’ Current Free Agents

Unrestricted

Tight end Dallas Clark

Nose tackle Terrence Cody

Tight end Ed Dickson

Cornerback Corey Graham

Safety James Ihedigbo

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones

Wide receiver Jacoby Jones

Safety Jeromy Miles

Left tackle Eugene Monroe

Right tackle Michael Oher

Running back Bernard Scott

Middle linebacker Daryl Smith

Overview: The Ravens have said they are in contract negotiations with Monroe and Smith, and hope to sign both of them before the start of free agency. They opted not to put the franchise tag on Monroe for $11 million, and he could command a big number from other teams. Monroe could be the highest-paid free agent on the market this offseason.

The Ravens have also expressed interest in re-signing Arthur Jones and Jacoby Jones, but they may get more money elsewhere. Arthur Jones could follow in the footsteps of defensive predecessors Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger, who cashed in on a big season by signing with another team. Jacoby Jones may also receive a large contract offer from a team looking to add a vertical threat and dangerous returner.

Areas To Address

Wide Receiver

The Ravens are looking to give quarterback Joe Flacco another target to bolster in [add] the passing game, and there are a number of good options available. The Ravens could go for a big player to work the edge of the field, or they could pursue a smaller slot receiver to move the chains.

Top Players Available

Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
James Jones, Green Bay Packers

Offensive Line

General Manager Ozzie Newsome said after the season that the Ravens want to upgrade the interior of their offensive line and get bigger. Adding a center and left guard could be part of the gameplan as the Ravens try to revamp their offensive line after the run game struggled in 2013. The Ravens could also need two new starting tackles if they do not to resign Oher or Monroe.

Top Players Available

RT Zach Stief, New Orleans Saints
LT Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs
RT Zach Strief, New Orleans Saints
C Evan Dietrich-Smith, Green Bay Packers,
C Brian De La Puente, New Orleans Saints
C Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns (Transition Tag)

Free Safety

Adding a ball hawking safety on the back end is one of the top offseason priorities, as the Ravens want to use last year’s first-round pick Matt Elam in more of a strong safety role. The Ravens want a player with good speed and coverage skills, and there are a few playmakers on the market this year.

Top Players Available

Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
Chris Clemons, Miami Dolphins
Major Wright, Chicago Bears
Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans Saints
Stevie Brown, New York Giants
Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos

Running Back

The Ravens already have their top two running backs with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, but Harbaugh said they plan to add some depth in the backfield. They could try to bring in one of the big bruising running backs on the market this offseason. Getting the running game back on track is critical for new coordinator Gary Kubiak, and adding more support for Rice and Pierce could be an important move.

Top Players Available

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
Ben Tate, Houston Texans
Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers
Andre Brown, New York Giants
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders

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