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Who's Out There? Inside Linebackers

Posted Feb 23, 2013

Could the Ravens replace Ray Lewis with an outside veteran?

The Ravens are losing legendary linebacker Ray Lewis, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of their defense.

While the prevailing thought is that the Ravens will try to retain linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and perhaps get younger at the position, they could also opt to bring in a veteran for depth or possibly to start.

Baltimore has question marks at both inside linebacker spots with Ellerbe as a free agent and Jameel McClain trying to return from a season-ending spinal cord injury.

Here are some players the Ravens might consider:

Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears
Unrestricted (12th season), 34, 6-foot-4, 258 pounds
2012 season: 12 starts, 68 tackles, 7 pass deflections, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles
The eight-time Pro Bowler was long in the same sentence as Lewis as two of the best inside linebackers in the game. But just as Lewis’ body slowed in his later years, Urlacher is coming to the end of his career. A hamstring injury knocked the veteran out of Chicago’s final four games. It’s unclear whether the Bears want to bring him back or how high Urlacher’s price tag would be.

Rey Maualuga, Cincinnati Bengals
Unrestricted (5th season), 26, 6-2, 265
2012 season: 16 starts, 122 tackles, 1 sack, 4 pass deflections
Once seen as a potential draft target for the Ravens to eventually replace Lewis, Maualuga could do the same five years later. The former second-round pick has had trouble both on and off the field, however. He never broke 100 tackles in his first three years and has had problems in pass coverage. A hard-hitting player, Maualuga was charged with drunk driving in 2010. The Bengals are reportedly set to part ways with him.

Bart Scott, New York Jets
Unrestricted (11th season), 32, 6-2, 242
2012 season: 13 starts, 60 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 interception
Scott left the Ravens to sign a huge contract and join Head Coach Rex Ryan in New York in 2009. Everything hasn’t been peaches and cream since then, however, and boiled over last year when Scott was removed as a full-time starter. Scott was released on Tuesday to clear cap space after making a season-low in tackles since 2004.

Erin Henderson, Minnesota Vikings
Unrestricted (6th season), 26, 6-3, 244
2012 season: 10 starts, 80 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble
The Maryland product and native of Aberdeen. became a strong part of the Vikings defense alongside his brother, E.J. Henderson. He’s coming off his finest season and is still young. Erin originally was an outside linebacker, but moved inside when his brother went down with a knee injury and played well against the run, in coverage and rushing the passer. He could be a free-agent bargain.

Tim Dobbins, Houston Texans
Unrestricted (8th season), 30, 6-1, 236
2012 season: 6 starts, 43 tackles, 4 pass deflections, 1 interception
Dobbins started and played well when the Texans suffered a number of injuries late in the season. He’s never been a full-time starter, but could provide depth for the Ravens and comes from a very stout Texans defense. Dobbins went down with an ankle injury in the final regular-season game and was replaced by Barrett Ruud, another unrestricted free agent.

Other Notable Names:

  • Bradie James, Houston Texans
  • Jasper Brinkley, Minnesota Vikings
  • Brandon Siler, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Tavares Gooden, San Francisco 49ers
  • Paris Lenon, Arizona Cardinals

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