11 Ravens Offseason Issues To Discuss During Florida Meeting


The Ravens brass is in Florida discussing important steps they plan to take this offseason.

The contingent is made up of Owner Steve Bisciotti, President Dick Cass, General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta, Senior Vice President of Football Administration Pat Moriarty and Head Coach John Harbaugh.

We don't have an official bulleted list of their talking points, but here's what is likely on the docket:

1)      How to improve the secondary

Last offseason, the Ravens took aim at their offensive line and running game. That was a rousing success, as the run game surged back during the 2014 season and Joe Flacco took 60 percent fewer sacks. Now the area that needs some TLC is the pass defense, which finished 24th in the league last year in allowing 249 yards per game. A large part of the problem was injuries to the cornerbacks. But can they be relied on to bounce back and stay healthy? Does Baltimore need an infusion of youth or another veteran at cornerback? And do changes need to be made at safety?

2)      Torrey Smith's worth

Harbaugh said he wants pending free agent wide receiver Torrey Smith back. Smith said he wants to return, even before hitting the open market on March 10. But what is Smith's worth? The Ravens have to determine what kind of offer to make Smith, and whether they're willing to let him test the market.

3)      Justin Forsett's value

Forsett was one of the offensive MVPs last year and he's also looking to stay with Baltimore. While Forsett went to the Pro Bowl, and showed his knack for succeeding in the zone run scheme honed by former Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak, determining the value of a running back is difficult. Many running backs don't get big second contracts because of the wear and tear on their bodies. And can Forsett have as much success without Kubiak?

4)      How the offense operates under Marc Trestman

The Ravens will have their fourth offensive coordinator in as many years with Trestman. Baltimore's offense set franchise highs last offseason in points and yards per game. Now it will look to maintain or improve that pace under Trestman, who also brings a West Coast style. Larger focused discussions on Trestman's impact on quarterback Joe Flacco will surely take place.

5)      Whether to extend Haloti Ngata

Ngata has a reported team-high $16 million cap figure heading into 2015. Baltimore would presumably like to lower that heading into the season, but doesn't want to part ways with a perennial Pro Bowl player who has been the anchor of the defensive line. Can the Ravens reach a contract extension to reduce his cap hit, similar to what they did with Terrell Suggs last offseason? 

6)      Lardarius Webb's contract

In a similar situation as Ngata, Webb is slated to be a reported $12 million cap next season. The Ravens will likely discuss whether Webb is worth that much money considering he's had difficulty staying healthy over the years. Harbaugh said Webb is still "capable of playing at the highest level" and played well after struggling early on. There could be talk of an extension like Ngata.

7)      Level of activity in free agency

The Ravens will be discussing their salary cap landscape for the upcoming season and beyond. In many ways, that determines what kind of offers they can make not only to their own free agents, but also how aggressive they can be on the open market. Harbaugh said he had a feeling Baltimore had some flexibility, but that will be ironed out in Florida. If there is more money in the purse, where do you spend it, and on who?

8)      Top draft needs

The draft is still three months away, but the Ravens are already getting ready. DeCosta largely oversees the draft and prospect rankings, alongside Newsome. They'll discuss positions of strength and what the team's top needs are moving forward. The Ravens will always take a best-player-available approach, but they also have certain spots they know are more urgent than others.

9)      Dennis Pitta's reliability

Baltimore has some decisions to make at tight end. The Ravens re-signed Pitta to a five-year deal last offseason, but he suffered a second fractured and dislocated hip last season. Pitta is making progress in his rehabilitation, but the Ravens need to make a decision on how much they want to rely on him returning to the field, which is not a guarantee at this point. Harbaugh said he's "cautiously optimistic." With Pitta in question and Owen Daniels set for free agency, the Ravens only have rising rookie Crockett Gillmore at the position.

10)   How to win the AFC North

The Ravens always say their first priority is to win the division. Baltimore hasn't won it for the past two years. The Bengals took it in 2013 and the Steelers claimed it last year. While the Ravens took down the Steelers in the wild-card playoffs, Baltimore has lost its last three meetings with the Bengals. The division was arguably the best in football last year. The Ravens need to stay ahead of the curve against potent offenses in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and a strong defense in Cleveland.

11)   The future of young talent

The Ravens have a few young, talented players that have lost or failed to claim starting roles. Safety Matt Elam, the team's 2013 first-round pick, played less as the year went along and had a couple costly missed tackles in the playoffs. Arthur Brown, the 2013 second-round pick, was active for just four games in his sophomore year. Running back Bernard Pierce, the 2012 third-round pick, was beaten out by Forsett and,at times,rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro. What's the future for those three players?

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