Analysts Predict Which Ravens Get Contract Extensions


If Ravens fans think this offseason has been tough to navigate, wait till next year.

Baltimore has several big players entering the final year of their contracts, including four major prospective free agents: cornerback Jimmy Smith, kicker Justin Tucker, guard Kelechi Osemele and linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

A few media big-hitters weighed in at the NFL Owners Meetings on who should get extended this offseason before heading into their final year.

"Two of those three, if not all three, I bet they get done," said CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, referring to Smith, Tucker and Osemele. 

"That's where they spend their money. It's not sexy, it doesn't make for great video hits. Everybody wants to get somebody else's player and it's the rush of free agency, but the best teams secure their talent."

The Ravens have a history of trying to work out deals with home-grown high-priority free agents before they enter their final seasons. They tried with quarterback Joe Flacco after the 2012 season. They re-signed outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to an extension last offseason.

According to La Canfora, the Ravens tried to work something out with wide receiver Torrey Smith last offseason, but the two sides couldn't reach an agreement. Smith left for San Francisco immediately after hitting the market.

"Torrey is a rare exception of a guy who is still in his prime, coming into his own, going into a second contract, the high draft pick who gets away. But it wasn't without attempts to keep him," La Canfora said.

"But, by in large, they secure their guys early and they get into that second contract sooner and you buy the meaningful life of the player in terms of his prime years. I think all three [Jimmy Smith, Tucker and Osemele] of those guys have long careers ahead of them in Baltimore. I know Pat will be working judiciously to get those things done."

ESPN's John Clayton and Sports Illustrated's Don Banks weren't quite as optimistic, and have different ideas on who they think gets paid first.

Clayton said he thinks the Ravens will "probably work to get one" contract extension done this offseason, and felt the most likely candidate is kicker Justin Tucker.

"You know they'll be proactive about it. So you know Tucker will get something done and then maybe one of the other draft choices," Clayton said.

The Ravens may need to be aggressive because Clayton sees a "concerning" trend of teams' drafted players going elsewhere for their second contracts. He said 38 players from the 2011 draft class signed with other teams. Only six re-signed with their current clubs, and five were backups.

"The one thing they can't do, and this team I'm sure won't do, is let too many things lapse. It's too important," Clayton said. "It's getting harder, knowing that some guys can go out there and get six and seven million dollars on a contract just by waiting."

Banks feels that if the Ravens are going to get one player re-signed, it's going to be Smith. Smith is already regarded as one of the top possible free agents of 2016.

"Probably Smith because of the positon he plays and their history of going through cornerbacks due to injuries in recent years," Banks said. "I think he's probably the priority. It's the position where you're going to get paid the best.

"They love Osemele and that's a guy that they're not about to lose track of. But to me, the cornerback in today's game, you better have three or four that can play. So to me, that line starts there."

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