'Seismic Changes' Could Be Coming
Get ready for big changes.
The team the Ravens put on the field for the 2013 season will likely look much different than the one that just hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
"The transition this franchise will experience this offseason, with Ray] Lewis retiring and others likely gone, promises to be seismic in comparison to the changes the roster has undergone in the past," [wrote Albert Breer of NFL.com.
The retirement of Lewis – the face of the franchise for the last 17 years – is hardly the only change the Ravens will go through this offseason. With a flat salary cap for the second straight season, the Ravens are strapped for cash and will likely have to cut ties with significant contributors who helped lead the team to Super Bowl XLVII.
"As the team's brass huddles in Jupiter, Fla., this weekend to plan for the months ahead, some very tough calls will need to be made, some creativity will be necessary and, at some level, the roster will have to be reimagined," Breer wrote. "And that's about more than just moving on from No. 52."
This year's salary cap will be about $121 million, and the Ravens have more than $69 million tied up in 10 players. Owner Steve Bisciotti and General Manager Ozzie Newsome both said the Ravens wouldn’t repeat their approach from 2001 and try to restructure veteran deals in an attempt to go back-to-back, and that their focus is to maintain a consistent winner.
As a result, veterans like fullback Vonta Leach or Anquan Boldin have been mentioned as potential cap casualties by various media outlets, including The Baltimore Sun.
While the Ravens are tight for cash, many other teams are in similar situations, and Breer pointed to Baltimore's offseason moves in recent years where they cut or lost key veterans in free agency like Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding as evidence that the team is equipped for the transition.
"The reality of a 2013 situation so many teams find themselves in dictates that there will be change in Baltimore," Breer wrote. "The philosophy both Newsome and Bisciotti cited will allow the Ravens to embrace that change."
Kruger Wants To Stay In Baltimore
One of the veteran free agents the Ravens could lose is outside linebacker Paul Kruger.
Kruger had a breakout season and now he's likely to have some big money thrown his direction.
But the unrestricted free agent said his preference is to stay with the Ravens, the team that picked him in the second round of the 2009 draft.
"I'd love to stay in Baltimore," Kruger told ESPN. "It's a great place to play in every aspect. The organization, the facilities, the teammates. It would be hard to leave, for sure."
Keeping Kruger in Baltimore would come at a steep price after the 26-year-old outside linebacker attracted national attention for his play down the stretch. He led the Ravens with nine sacks during the regular season and added 4.5 more in the playoffs, including two in the Super Bowl.
Those numbers will likely draw Kruger plenty of suitors, particularly a team in need of an elite pass rusher. With that in mind, Kruger acknowledged that Super Bowl XLVII could have very well been his final game with the Ravens.
"It's something I've thought about from time to time, even through the season — this is my last year," Kruger said. "I've thought about it, but to come out here and end this way with a Super Bowl win, play on that stage with these guys, it was a storybook ending for sure."
Ravens Repeat? 'Why Not?'
Less than 48 hours after the Ravens had captured Super Bowl XLVII, safety Ed Reed!(/team/roster/ed-reed/89ece203-7de4-4b40-9651-f16f4c3b7699/ "Ed Reed") already brought up the idea of repeating during the team parade and celebration.
Now other Ravens are jumping on board, expressing confidence heading into the offseason.
"I can't experience that just one time," wide receiver Torrey Smith!(/team/roster/torrey-smith/05382870-b235-44db-9b51-3d3ca0df2dd8/ "Torrey Smith") said during a community event at Chase Elementary School in Middle River. "We need to bring multiple championships back to Baltimore. People are saying this isn't normal. Well, why not? That's the way I'm approaching it. To make it to the top and see the look on the faces of our city, all those kids out there, it's amazing. We are a reflection of our city."
Fellow receiver Jacoby Jones had a similar sentiment when he made the talk show rounds last week.
During an appearance on the NFL Network's Total Access, Jones echoed Smith's response when asked if they could go back-to-back.
"Why not? Yeah, we can. We have a great team," Jones said. "We're scary. Bernard Pierce, he's a rookie – he can play. We have Ray [Rice], he comes out of the backfield catching the ball and running. And then we have young receivers that people don't even know about. We're scary. I want everybody to go back to sleep on us like they did already."
Williams Not Fined For Shoving Official
The NFL has decided not to fine cornerback Cary Williams for shoving an official in the first half of the Super Bowl.
Williams pushed an official at the end of a scrum with the 49ers, where his helmet was popped off at the bottom of a pile. As Williams came out of the pile, he pushed away an official who was trying to restrain him.
"I didn't know it was a ref," Williams said after the game. "It was just a reaction. It was a scrum. I feel bad about the situation. It was just a reaction. That's not the way to act. I just wanted to protect my teammates."
Some media pundits said that Williams should have been ejected for the incident, but the NFL ruled after further review that the incident did not merit a fine.
- Haloti Ngata suffered an MCL sprain in the Super Bowl, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. [Twitter]
- Flacco hung out with Tommy Hilfiger and then had a front row seat at New York City Fashion Week. The Super Bowl MVP is taking full advantage of his newfound celebrity. [FOXSports.com]
- Former Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron has reportedly been hired by LSU to be their offensive coordinator. Cameron coached with LSU Head Coach Les Miles dating back to their days as assistants at Michigan. [USA Today]
- John Harbaugh was exactly the kind of leader that the Ravens needed this year. The job Harbaugh did elevated him into the top tier of NFL head* *coaches. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Suggs says that he sees Flacco as the leader the rest of the team will look to now that Lewis is retiring. [ProFootballTalk.com]
- Jack Harbaugh is neutral on the controversial no-call at the end of the Super Bowl, where the officials did not throw a flag on Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith who was covering Michael Crabtree. "I'm not going there, as you can imagine," Jack said on a radio interview. [ESPN.com]
- Ravens fan and author Lisa Friedman talks about her slowly developing appreciation for football, which culminated in traveling to New Orleans to cheer on the Ravens in the Super Bowl. [The Huffington Post]
- With both teams enjoying winning seasons, the Ravens and Orioles offered a rare celebration for Baltimore fans. [The Baltimore Sun]
- During an interview with NFL Network, Suggs talks about Flacco deserving to get paid, the emotions of winning the Super Bowl and his impressions of Colin Kaepernick.