If you're vaguely unnerved by what's going on with the Ravens, don't worry, it's a common feeling among fans right now.
The final days before free agency, which opens next week, aren't an easygoing time. The sky seems to be falling, even if it isn't. Why? I think I can explain.
Free agency, at its essence, is about players coming and going. Some will be leaving the Ravens. Others will be joining the team. And right now, we only know who will be, or might be, departing because they've been Ravens and their contracts are up and their futures have been in the news. Conversely, we have no idea who'll be joining the team.
In other words, we're only focusing on half of the story right now because we know the names in that half and that's all we've got to chew on. And it's the tough and disappointing half, the part about who is or might be leaving, i.e., the subtractions. That's why the sky seems to be falling.
Meanwhile, the other half of the story is yet to unfold, and it's vastly more promising and uplifting, the part about who'll be joining the team, sometimes directly replacing a player who just departed.
Those are the additions. They won't in the headlines until the middle of next week, when free agency opens, but trust me, they're coming.
Yes, it was disappointing to see the Ravens part ways with veteran safety Eric Weddle, who added so much on and off the field. His departure certainly leaves a gaping hole in the secondary.
But I don't think the Ravens are going to cut Weddle without making a corresponding move to replace him. Yes, they might decide to fill in with younger, cheaper safeties already on the roster, but the likelier move, I think, is they make a splash and land one of the big-name safeties expected to be available on the open market.
Hey, even though Weddle was a heady and valuable piece, they might actually end up improving their back end in the long run. It's certainly their intention.
Regardless, the example illustrates why things seem so unsettled now. A whole batch of other Ravens, including C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, Za'Darius Smith, Brent Urban and John Brown, are on the verge of reaching unrestricted free agency, putting their futures in Baltimore in doubt. It's especially hard to envision the defense without so many of its 2018 cornerstones, including Weddle.
Some of those players might end up back on the team in the end, but regardless, there'll be new blood coming on board, some of it likely quite pricey.
Two years ago at this time, on the eve of free agency, it was impossible to envision Tony Jefferson as one of the bulwarks of the secondary in Baltimore. He had spent his entire career with the Arizona Cardinals to that point. The Ravens weren't rumored to be pursuing him. They had salary cap constraints and Jefferson was going to be expensive.
But the Ravens signed him and now he is part of their defensive foundation. His addition helped calm significant concerns about the secondary.
Now there are other concerns, especially if some or many of those pending free agents land elsewhere. There'll be holes to fill. But the Ravens have money to spend on additions, guys who'll fill those holes. In fact, they've got more money to spend on free agents than they've had in recent years.
Some of that money will go toward retaining as many of their own players as possible, but some of the money also will bring new names into the personnel mix. A big-play running back? There are free agents who fit that description and would look good lined up next to Lamar Jackson. Pass rushers? There are candidates out there. Same with wide receivers, offensive linemen, backup quarterbacks.
It's hard to imagine now, when all we know is who might be leaving, but interesting additions are in the offing, perhaps even enough to convince you the sky isn't falling after all.