The Ravens have 11 players set to become unrestricted free agents, and we will provide a breakdown for each of them heading into the start of the new league year on March 9.
Let's kick off the series by taking a look at right tackle Rick Wagner.
2016 stats: 14 starts, graded as NFL's eighth-best right tackle by Pro Football Focus
Wagner has quietly been one of the Ravens'most reliable offensive players over the last few years. He took over the right tackle job in 2014 and has started 45 games over that stretch. He struggled through the effects of foot surgery during the 2015 season, but he bounced back to have a quality year last season.
Why Ravens Should Keep Him
The Ravens have emphasized the importance of protecting quarterback Joe Flacco behind a standout offensive line, and keeping Wagner would help in that regard. Head Coach John Harbaugh said during the season-review press conference: "We are going to build an offensive line that is the best in the league." The 6-foot-6, 310-pound lineman has started at right tackle the last three seasons in Baltimore, and he's one of the league's better players at the position. If the Ravens re-sign Wagner, then all five of their starters from last year will be under contract for 2017. Continuity along the offensive line is important, and Wagner's departure would create a hole along the offensive front. Baltimore could look to young players like Alex Lewis or Stephane Nembot to step into the starting job, and they would also likely need to address the position in the draft and perhaps through free agency.
Why Wagner May Walk
Wagner's development will attract plenty of suitors on the open market and he could get a contract upwards of $6.9 million a year, according to projections by Spotrac.com's market value calculator. It would be difficult for the Ravens to match that kind of offer, especially if they commit to free-agent defensive tackle Brandon Williams. The Ravens have a history of letting free agents leave for richer contracts elsewhere – Kelechi Osemele, Arthur Jones, Paul Kruger and Ben Grubbs all come to mind – and the silver lining is the compensatory pick they receive in return. Wagner, a fifth-round selection, was actually drafted with a compensatory pick. If Wagner left with a big contract, then that would put the Ravens in line to get a similar compensatory pick that they used on him in 2013. The Ravens could also take their chances on drafting an eventual replacement at right tackle, as they've had success in drafting quality offensive linemen in the middle rounds.