The market has officially opened.
After a three-day frenzy during the "legal tampering" period to lead into the new league year, teams can now officially sign free agents. Teams and agents have already spent the last three days negotiating, but now they can actually put the ink to the paper.
The tampering period was tough on Baltimore, as wide receiver Torrey Smith and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee are both set to leave the Ravens. McPhee is reportedly headed to Chicago and the 49ers are the frontrunners to sign Smith.
Now the Ravens have to adjust their focus to keeping some of their other valued free agents like running back Justin Forsett. Several teams are reportedly interested in Forsett.
News happens quickly during free agency, and here are some ways to stay on top of all the latest information and analysis:
As the Ravens enter the new league year looking to build off the success in 2014, here are three of the biggest questions and key storylines to follow:
Can Ravens Restructure Existing Contracts?
The Ravens reportedly freed up some salary-cap space Tuesday morning by restructuring veteran outside linebacker Terrell Suggs' contract. The move opens about $2.25 million in space, which puts the Ravens under the cap before the start of the new league year. Similar moves could be coming soon, as the Ravens are still negotiating cornerback Lardarius Webb about potential extensions or restructured deals. Those negotiations don't have to be completed by 4 p.m. Tuesday. The Ravens also freed up cap room by trading defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to Detroit.
Any Bargain Players Hit The Market
General Manager Ozzie Newsome is known for his keen eye for finding under-the-radar players who hit the market after getting released by their previous teams (Justin Forsett, Daryl Smith, Corey Graham, etc.), and he'll certainly be looking for those kinds of players to fill in roster gaps. The Ravens also have a strong track record of adding veteran receivers like Steve Smith Sr., Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason. Some notable names have hit the market – Andre Johnson and Percy Harvin – and the Ravens could go that route to help fill the void that opened with Torrey Smith's departure.
Moves Around the Division
The AFC North was the NFL's only division to have three teams in the playoffs last year. Now the competition could get even tougher, as the Bengals and the Browns both have plenty of money to spend in free agency. Cleveland reportedly has $45 million in cap space and the Bengals have almost $30 million to spend. Both teams have to make acquisitions to reach the salary-cap floor that is required under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Steelers are in a similar situation to the Ravens, as they are pressed tight against the cap.