Chances Ravens Land These 9 Free Agents
The Ravens have set themselves up nicely for free agency:
Pitta/Suggs deals PLUS Leach/McClain cuts PLUS Increased salary cap = about $26-plus million to spend.
The final numbers on the Dennis Pitta deal have not been released yet, so that $26 million figure could rise. However much it does rise, the Ravens have already been dubbed one of the potential "big spenders" in free agency this offseason by NFL.com.
"The Ravens should be more active in free agency, although they won't be writing checks like the Washington Redskins," added ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Baltimore has plenty of holes: offensive tackle (left and right), center, wide receiver, tight end, inside linebacker and free safety.
"How the Ravens attack free agency could be different as well. In the past, the Ravens targeted players who were cut by other teams. That allowed the Ravens to get a maximum number of compensatory picks. This year, the Ravens are going to look at unrestricted free agents (players whose contracts have expired). General manager Ozzie Newsome is going to pursue any avenue to improve this 8-8 team."
With that in mind, let's take a look at the latest Ravens free agency rumors:
T Eugene Monroe
26 years old, *No. 1-ranked free agent offensive lineman (NFL.com)*
"The Ravens remain far apart in contract negotiations with offensive tackle Eugene Monroe," The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson wrote this morning. "Although both sides are highly motivated to hammer out a deal and some progress has been made, sources say there's a significant gap to be bridged to reach a financial compromise. … The Ravens could use the tag to prevent Monroe from becoming an unrestricted free agent on March 11. It's uncertain whether they will designate Monroe as their franchise player, but one source characterized that option as a possibility the team has considered."
C Alex Mack
28 years old, hasn't missed a snap in five seasons, *No. 2-ranked free agent offensive lineman (NFL.com)*
"The Ravens will probably pit a young guy – either already on the roster or one drafted in May – against incumbent Gino Gradkowski this offseason," wrote The Sun's Matt Vensel. "But should they choose to go the free-agent route like they did with Matt Birk in 2009, this former Cleveland Browns first-rounder is the best of the bunch."
WR Jacoby Jones29 years old, 37 catches, 455 yards, 2 touchdowns in 12 games"I'm just not sure the Ravens are willing to give Jacoby Jones anywhere close to the money he made in 2014 ($4 million) because they see him as a returner," wrote Hensley. "The team is probably valuing him somewhere between the $1 million and $2 million range. Jones will want to go to a team that will think of him as a returner and receiver, which will get him closer to that $4 million level. Teams will be interested in Jones because he's a playmaker. General managers still remember him scoring touchdowns off deep passes and kickoff returns in the Ravens' Super Bowl run. The Ravens would like to keep him, but they can't overpay him because there are so many other needs. He's a luxury item for a team that has enough cap room to splurge."
WR Hakeem Nicks26 years old, 56 catches, 896 yards, 0 touchdowns in 15 games"The Ravens could end up with someone like Hakeem Nicks at wide receiver," wrote Hensley.
Added Vensel: "Nicks looked like a future star before injuries and inconsistency marred the end of his run with the New York Giants. But he is still relatively young and could be a physical, explosive complement to Torrey Smith. But if the Ravens give a big deal to a receiver this offseason, it will probably be Smith."
WR Sidney Rice27 years old, 15 catches, 231 yards, 3 touchdowns in 8 gamesThe Seattle Seahawks released Rice Friday after signing him to a deal in 2011. His time in Seattle was plagued with injuries. Rice was reportedly due $8.5 million in base salary for 2014. He sustained a knee injury in Week 8 and missed the rest of the 2013 season. Our own John Eisenberg predicted last month that Rice could be cut.
"Yes, there are questions about his knee and overall injury history, but those lower his price, and meanwhile, he's just 27 and a certifiable big-play guy. I like it as long as his knee is OK," wrote Eisenberg.
WR Danny Amendola28 years old, 54 catches, 633 yards, two touchdowns in 12 gamesThe New England Patriots are reportedly dangling Amendola as trade bait, according to Bleacher Report's Dan Pompei.
"One of the biggest disappointments of the Patriots season was receiver Danny Amendola, who signed a five-year deal worth $28.5 million as a free agent (with $10 million guaranteed) before the season and was expected to replace the production of the departed Wes Welker," wrote CBSSports.com's Josh Katzowitz.
WR Julian Edelman27 years old, 105 catches, 1,056 yards, 6 touchdowns"Making a play for Julian Edelman would make sense, as Baltimore must get its hands on a possession receiver," wrote NFL.com's Elliot Harrison.
WR Jason Avant30 years old, 38 catches, 447 yards, two touchdowns *The Philadelphia Eagles are expected to release Avant, who is scheduled to count $3.96 million against the cap, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. *"If set free by Philadelphia, Avant should attract the bargain hunting prowess of Ozzie Newsome," wrote Russell Street Report's Kyle Casey. "On the free agent market, no receiver would handle the slot, go-to-guy role quite like Avant, if he indeed becomes available. As a soon-to-be 31-year old, it's hard to gauge how many more years Avant can excel in the role he took on in Philadelphia, but if last season showed anything, it's that he still has a few respectable years still left in him. The value Avant would bring to the team is similar to that of Boldin, albeit with less consistency: win contested catches."
S Jairus Byrd27 years old, 4 interceptions, 6 passes defensed in 11 gamesThe Buffalo Bills are at a standstill with their star safety and it is unlikely that they slap him with the franchise tag for the second consecutive year, reports CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora. Byrd turned down the Bills' latest offer, which would have made him one of the top-paid safeties in the NFL within the first two years of the deal.
"I would be surprised if the Ravens spent big money on Bills free safety Jairus Byrd, who would be the biggest splash at that position," wrote Hensley.
Suggs 5th-Most Hated NFL Player
There's no question we luuuuuuuv T-Sizzle here in Baltimore.
It's been a joy to watch Terrell Suggs hunt down and terrorize quarterbacks over the years, while talking a little smack along the way.
And perhaps for the very reasons we love him, the rest of the league dislikes him.
Suggs is the 5th-most hated player in the NFL, according to REPUCOM, a global marketing research company that tracks the popularity of celebrities.
The Ravens outside linebacker is just two spots behind Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Here's the full list:
- Michael Vick
- Ndamukong Suh
- Ben Roethlisberger
- Mark Sanchez
- Terrell Suggs
- Dez Bryant
- Jay Cutler
- Darrelle Revis
- Marshawn Lynch
- Chris Johnson
Does Pitta Deal Change Draft Strategy?
Now that Dennis Pitta is locked up for the next five years, CSNBaltimore.com's Bo Smolka is wondering if the new deal changes the Ravens' draft strategy in May.
The Ravens have been linked to North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, who is considered the top tight end in the draft, in countless mock drafts.
But would the Ravens still use their precious No. 17 pick on a tight end with Pitta on the roster?
"[I]f Ebron is available when the Ravens pick at No. 17, he would still be an excellent pick," Smolka wrote. "The Ravens certainly will be happy to have Dennis Pitta back in the fold for the foreseeable future, but in today's NFL, one tight end – particularly one coming off a serious hip injury – doesn't cut it. So the Ravens are very much in the market for another tight end. The Pitta deal doesn't change that."
With so many more needs to fill on the Ravens roster, however, Eisenberg isn't sure using the top pick on another tight end is the right strategy.
"But other factors will weigh heavily," he wrote. "The Ravens have a lot of needs, especially on offense. They could use a starting-caliber blocker and a quality wideout, and both should be available. Meanwhile, what they really need at tight end is a superior blocker to alternate with Pitta. My guess is they end up going in another direction."
- @StevePalazzolo [Pro Football Focus]: Lots of talk about Flacco and his adjustments to Kubiak's scheme and designed rollouts. Boot action only makes up a fraction of the offense … The Texans ran designed rollouts on only 40 passes last season. The Ravens ran 29. [Twitter]
- @RavensInsider: Ravens not close to a deal with Eugene Monroe, but talks haven't reached an advanced stage. Primary focus was on Dennis Pitta [Twitter]
- @untouchablejay4: $$CHA CHING$$ #paydamanhismoney TEDDY KGB VOICE. RT @mikemiz23: @untouchablejay4 what do u think about ur boy pitta getting the extension? [Twitter]
- @Artj97: S/O to my boy @dennispitta on getting his deal done. Hard work pays off. Excited for ya! :-) lunch is on you!! Hahaha #2010ravensdraftclass [Twitter]
- @BaltimoreLuke: Yup, must stink being among the final four every year. RT @ProFootballTalk Report: Jim Harbaugh's "act has worn thin" in 49ers locker room [Twitter]
- @Ravens: The Dennis Pitta press conference has been moved to Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. due to the impending winter weather. We'll broadcast it LIVE! [Twitter]
- @MichaelOher: Watching The N Word on ESPN this is very interesting....what do you guys think?? [Twitter]
- The Ravens are more likely to trade down in the draft than trade up. [CSNBaltimore.com]
- The Ravens are expected to pick up cornerback Jimmy Smith's 2015 option this offseason. [ESPN]
- @Ravens: Yet ANOTHER snow day at the Under Armour Performance Center. #mdsnow [Twitter]