Predicting Which Ravens Stay Or Leave
We are only days away from Tuesday's free agency flurry.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said that the Ravens' first priority is to re-sign their own guys, and the clock is ticking to get 'er done. Baltimore representatives have already made "aggressive" offers to the players they wish to keep.
Who will stay and who will leave?
Nobody knows what will happen for sure, but WNST's Luke Jones made his predictions this week, which you can find IN ALL CAPS below, listed in order of Jamison Hensley's Ravens free agent rankings. The ESPN blogger also provided "the bottom line" for each pending free agent.
The Ravens had 13 unrestricted free agents coming out of the season – wide receiver Brandon Stokley already said he plans on retiring – and Jones predicts only three will stay …
No. 13 TE Dallas Clark: LEAVES
The bottom line: "There's a good chance that Clark will follow Stokley's path and retire. He turns 35 before the season starts and his 31 catches were his fewest since 2006. … Clark was inactive for the four games [Dennis] Pitta played last season. There's no chance he's returning to the Ravens."
No. 12 RB Bernard Scott: LEAVES
The bottom line: "Why is Scott rated above [Clark] in the Ravens free agent rankings? Because Scott has a chance of playing somewhere next season. The Ravens need depth at running back, but Scott was a band-aid for that position last season. The team has to improve the No. 3 spot, and it could do so in the draft."
No. 11 S Jeromy Miles: STAYS
The bottom line: "The Ravens picked him up on waivers, which meant they paid him his restricted tender of $1.3 million last season. That tells me that the Ravens really wanted Miles to bolster their special teams. Miles isn't a priority in free agency, but I wouldn't be surprised if he ended back with the Ravens."
No. 10 NT Terrence Cody: LEAVES
The bottom line: "The Ravens will only bring him back if they feel they need experienced depth on the interior of the defensive line. Brandon Williams, a third-round pick in 2013, should see an increase in playing time at nose tackle in his second season. For that reason, the odds are against Cody returning."
No. 9 TE Ed Dickson: LEAVES
The bottom line: "Dickson told reporters at the end of the season that he doesn't expect to return to the Ravens, and it's hard to argue with him. The Ravens are expected to keep Pitta and add another tight end in the draft. Dickson needs a fresh start."
No. 8 CB Corey Graham: STAYS
The bottom line: "The Ravens consider Graham one of their priorities in free agency, although he won't rank as high as [Pitta]. By keeping Graham, the Ravens would retain their top three cornerbacks and maintain chemistry in the secondary. Graham is also an excellent special-teams player. But there's no guarantee that he's coming back. Coach John Harbaugh said Graham could follow the likes of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe as someone who played so well for the Ravens that he'll draw interest elsewhere."
No. 7 S James Ihedigbo: LEAVES
The bottom line: "A return is unlikely for Ihedgibo, especially after General Manager Ozzie Newsome said the team needs to add a more athletic safety. The Ravens want to move [Matt] Elam to Ihedigbo's strong safety spot, which is the first-round pick's natural position. The team would be interested in bringing back Ihedigbo as a special teams player, but he'll want to find a place where he has an opportunity to play on defense."
No. 6 OT Michael Oher: LEAVES
The bottom line: "Coach John Harbaugh didn't rule out bringing back both Oher and Eugene Monroe, the team's starting tackles who are scheduled to become free agents. But this seems like a long shot. It's more likely that only one will return. If the Ravens can't re-sign Monroe because he's too expensive, the Ravens would bring back Oher to play left tackle, which won't be popular with the team's fan base."
No. 5 LB Daryl Smith: STAYS
The bottom line: "The Ravens are trying to get Smith signed before free agency begins March 11. He is a priority after the team cut Jameel McClain. The other inside linebackers on the roster with experience are Arthur Brown and Josh Bynes. The Ravens would prefer a short-term deal (two or three years) because of Smith's age."
No. 4 DT Arthur Jones: LEAVES
The bottom line: "Jones is generally ranked among the top 25 free agents available. He's going to get paid but likely not by the Ravens. The Dolphins and Jets have been linked as potential interested teams. The Ravens showed last year they weren't going to overpay to keep players they developed when they let Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe sign elsewhere."
No. 3 WR Jacoby Jones: LEAVES
The bottom line: "The Ravens aren't expected to give him the money he made in 2014 ($4 million) because they see him as a returner. Top returners typically average between $1 million and $2 million. There's a chance that another team will overpay Jones because he's a difference maker. He's a luxury item for a team that has enough cap room to splurge."
No. 2 OT Eugene Monroe: LEAVES
The bottom line: "With [Pitta] retained, the Ravens' priority on the offensive side of the ball is to get Monroe re-signed before free agency begins Tuesday. This could be difficult to accomplish, even though Monroe enjoyed his time with the Ravens and his wife's family lives in the Baltimore area. Teams like the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals are expected to aggressively pursue offensive tackles in free agency. The Ravens might have to outbid multiple teams to keep him."
No. 1 TE Dennis Pitta: RE-SIGNEDHensley's top-ranked unrestricted free agent should be published later today, but I'm assuming it is Pitta. Fortunately, Ravens brass already locked up their top offensive priority for another five years.
McShay Has Ravens Taking LB C.J. Mosley
Here's an outside-the-box prediction for the Ravens' No. 17 draft pick in May: Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosely.
This was ESPN's Todd McShay's latest forecast, his first since the NFL Scouting Combine. Most analysts have the Ravens selecting tight end Eric Ebron, a left tackle or a wide receiver. With so many holes still to fill on offense, this likely won't be a popular pick with the fan base.
"I had the Ravens select the best player available in this scenario, which is something they have a history of doing," McShay wrote. "Linebacker isn't necessarily a need spot for Baltimore, but the team isn't set at the position, either, and Mosley would provide an upgrade as a very productive playmaker with versatility and range. How the Ravens address the offensive tackle position in free agency with Eugene Monroe and Michael Oher could have an impact on this pick, and I wouldn't totally rule out UNC tight end Eric Ebron, either – even after the Dennis Pitta deal. Ebron would be a nice weapon for QB Joe Flacco and a good value at this spot."
If you're not going to focus on the offense in the first round, Hensley believes an Alabama product is a smart direction, given the fact that Newsome has drafted six players from his Crimson Tide alma mater, second-most players from any school, trailing only Oklahoma (seven).
The Ravens would like to re-sign veteran linebacker Smith, and they have a second-year player Arthur Brown. McClain was cut by the team last week. Whether the Ravens can bring back Smith could have a big impact on their top pick.
"Mosley is a high-energy player with great instincts. He should start immediately and has Pro Bowl potential," wrote Hensley. "His strengths are stopping the run and providing leadership in the locker room."
While this pick could make sense depending on free agency, not everyone thinks Mosely will be the guy.
"I'm going to have to disagree with Todd McShay on this one," our own Ryan Mink tweeted. "Don't think it will be C.J. Mosley."
Ray Lewis Nominated For College Football Hall of Fame
Retired Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis will have to wait five years to be eligible for the Professional Football Hall of Fame, but he is already on the ballot for another major distinction.
Lewis is a nominee to enter the College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2014, following an illustrious career at the University of Miami.
Ranking sixth all-time at Miami with 388 career tackles, Lewis was a consensus All-American and Butkus Award runner-up. He led the Canes to Fiesta and Orange Bowl appearances.
More than 12,000 National Football Foundation (NFF) members will have the opportunity to cast their ballots for the class. There are 75 player candidates and six coaches. The class will be announced in May, and the new inductees will be honored on Dec. 9 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
- @RavensInsider: Jameel McClain to visit Minnesota Vikings, per a league source. Decision expected in few days, couple others involved besides Giants, Bills [Twitter]
- It's strange that Pitta supports Jimmy Graham in potentially filing a grievance for being franchise tagged a tight end instead of a wide receiver. "Even though you would expect a tight end to support one of his peers, it's strange that Pitta spoke out so strongly about this," wrote Hensley. "Pitta's new contract averages $6.4 million per season, which is in line with the franchise tag for a tight end ($7 million) and not a wide receiver ($12.3 million). The deal he signed suggests Pitta agrees with the current value of tight ends." [ESPN]
- Matt Elam and Lardarius Webb attended the National Health Through Fitness Day event in Washington, D.C. [Baltimore Beatdown]
- @RavensSalaryCap: Ouch. Hurt Ravens w/ Monroe MT @ChrisHansenNFL Source: Raiders & OT Veldheer agree on a 5-yr deal w/ 6th yr option. $55M total w/$23M guar [Twitter]
- The Cleveland Browns re-signed former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff to a one-year deal worth a reported $1.02 million. [NFL.com]
- LB D'Qwell Jackson signed four-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts reportedly worth $22 million. [NFL.com]
- Jim Harbaugh buries a half-court shot at a Kansas St. basketball practice … in his khakis. Could John nail that shot? [SB Nation]