Ravens' Free Agency Shopping List
The Ravens want to find additional players* *at pass rusher, cornerback, tackle and wide receiver over the next few months.
The NFL Draft is certainly a place to look, especially with the Ravens holding their highest draft pick in 16 years. They probably can't knock out all of those needs with rookies, so General Manager Ozzie Newsome will have his eye on the free-agent market to see how he can supplement the roster.
Free agency doesn't open until March 9, but The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec took an early look at the players he views as pending free agents at Baltimore's positions of need. (Feel free to start dreaming now.
Von Miller, Denver Broncos
Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs
Bruce Irvin, Seattle Seahawks
Nick Perry, Green Bay Packers
Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers
Price Amukamara, New York Giants
Trumaine Johnson, L.A. Rams
Janoris Jenkins, L.A. Rams
Sean Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Josh Robinson, Minnesota Vikings
Kelechi Osemele, Baltimore Ravens
Russel Okung, Seattle Seahawks
Cordy Glenn, Buffalo Bills
Donald Penn, Oakland Raiders
Kelvin Beachum, Pittsburgh Steelers
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
Travis Benjamin, Cleveland Browns
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals
"The free-agent wide receiver class isn't overly impressive," Zrebiec wrote.
Just like every year in free agency, the question is whether the Ravens will be able to afford the upper echelon of players on the open market. Baltimore is pushed tight against the salary cap – especially if the team doesn't work out a new deal with quarterback Joe Flacco – and that limits what the team could spend on a player like Miller.
But Zrebiec notes that there is a quality group of receivers – like DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson, Mike Wallace, Victor Cruz and Roddy White – who could end up as salary cap casualties.
"Given the Ravens' love of compensatory picks, signing someone from that list is more likely than adding a true unrestricted free agent," he wrote.
Cam Newton's Connection To Ravens Helped Recruit Oher
Michael Oher's path to Super Bowl 50 with the Carolina Panthers has an interesting backstory.
Oher, a first-round pick of the Ravens in 2009, spent five seasons in Baltimore bouncing between right and left tackle. During that time, he got to know practice squad offensive lineman Cecil Newton.
Newton's kid brother just happened to be Cam, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft and the dynamic quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. Oher and Cecil Newton played together in Baltimore in 2011 and 2012.
Flash forward to the 2015 offseason when the Panthers were looking for a left tackle to protect Newton's blindside. Oher was a free agent at the time, and Cecil told his brother he should try to get Oher to Carolina.
"With my brother playing in Baltimore, I had someone tell me how good he really is," Cam Newton said, per ProFootballTalk.com. "My brother, playing on the offensive line, was around him every day, saw how he brought the professionalism each and every day. That's something that stuck out to him, and he told me, 'Mike is someone who will be a key asset to the team.'"
Cam Newton made a hard sell to convince Oher to join the Panthers.
"With the free agent pool, I've sent texts out before, called guys and said, 'We'd love for you to be part of the team.' But Mike was different," Newton said. "I didn't say, 'I want you to be here.' It was, 'I need you.' That's different. Want and need are two different words, and that's what I used in that text, along with other explicit words before the 'need.' And I think he got the feeling from that."
Oher went on to start all 16 games at left tackle for the Panthers this year.
Power Dynamic Between Harbaugh And Newsome
The relationship between a head coaches and general manager has long been a challenge for many teams in the NFL, and that issue has been a hot topic in recent months after notable power struggles with teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns.
The Tennessee Titans are trying to strike the right balance with their new Head Coach Mike Mularkey and General Manager Jon Robinson, and ESPN's Titans' reporter Paul Kuharsky talked with John Harbaugh about the dynamic he has with Ozzie Newsome.
"It's the ability to not be concerned with who does what or who's in charge of what," Harbaugh said. "We've got kind of a deal. People say they agree to disagree. We have a rule against that. We agree to agree. It takes a lot more work to find a common ground, but you talk things out, hash things out if you have to, and come to an agreement on what direction you need to go."
Kuharsky noted that "Harbaugh and Newsome have one of the league's best coach-GM relationships" and that teams should "mimic the best of that."
Ray Lewis' Son Picks College
Ray Lewis will be logging some frequent-flier miles to watch his son play college football.
Rayshad Lewis announced yesterday that he has committed to play at Utah State.
This is Lewis' second son in the college football ranks. His oldest son started his career at Lewis' alma mater Miami, but has since transferred to Coastal Carolina.
- Do you want a piece of Baltimore football history? A football caught by Hall of Fame split end Raymond Berry from fellow Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas in the 1958 NFL Championship game will be put up for auction. That championship game is known as the "Greatest Game Ever played," and the Colts won 23-17. The starting bid on the football will be $10,000.
- Inside Linebackers Coach Don Martindale will remain in Baltimore after the San Francisco 49ers hired Jim O'Neil is their defensive coordinator. Martindale was reportedly up for the job. The Ravens had already lost Linebackers Coach Ted Monachino to the defensive coordinator job with the Colts, and it would have been a tough blow to lose Martindale as well. [Baltimore Sun]