The NFL world will be buzzing when free agency officially opens Tuesday afternoon.
Teams could start talking with free agents over the weekend, so deals are expected to be announced minutes after the clock hits 4 p.m.
The Ravens have a handful of critical players poised to hit the open market, and they are also looking to bring in some quality veterans to compete for starting jobs and provide depth at areas of need.
Here's a primer to get you ready for what to expect over the next few days.
1. How high does the bidding war go for Paul Kruger?
The likelihood that Paul Kruger is back in Baltimore appears slim considering reports that he will command upwards of $10-12 million a year. Kruger is reportedly drawing interest from multiple suitors, including the Browns and Colts who could get into a bidding war over the outside linebacker. Kruger is regarded as one of the top pass rushers on the market, and he could strike a deal soon after the free agency doors open.
2. When does Ed Reed talk with the Ravens?
Both Reed and the Ravens have said on multiple occasions that they want the future Hall of Famer back in Baltimore next season. As of last week, Reed said he had yet to hear from the Ravens about working out a new deal. General Manager Ozzie Newsome said he was optimistic about bringing Reed back, and the two sides have reportedly met. However, Reed has hired an agent and is reportedly exploring his options. He has been linked to the Colts, Patriots, Dolphins and 49ers.
*3. Does Dannell Ellerbe get plucked in the first wave of free agency? *
The inside linebacker has been regarded by many pundits as the team's top free agent priority after quarterback Joe Flacco. He was arguably the best defender last season, and his return to the Ravens could help offset the loss of linebacker Ray Lewis. But Ellerbe may get about $25-30 million from another team if the Ravens aren't able to lock him up to a long-term deal, and he will be an attractive target on the open market.
4. How long does Cary Williams last?The cornerback has started every game the last two seasons for the Ravens and now he's likely to get a big payday as a free agent. Williams' agent has reportedly said that his client is drawing interest from a number of suitors. He will be looking for a deal bigger than the three-year, $15 million contract he turned down last season from the Ravens, and he's expected to get it after having a strong 2012 campaign. Like Kruger, he could end up being one of the early players to come off the market.
5. Does Bryant McKinnie end up back in Baltimore?The veteran left tackle showed in the playoffs that he still has more left in the tank as a starting lineman. He isn't likely to get a big-time contract because he is 33 years old and has struggled with his weight in recent seasons, but McKinnie could still draw interest from teams looking to add a starting left tackle. In a deep left tackle market, McKinnie may still be around after the initial wave of free agency, and the Ravens could then look to bring him back at a bargain.
Areas Ravens May Target
Wide receiverWith Anquan Boldin headed to San Francisco, the Ravens may look to bring in another veteran to provide some depth to the receiving corps. Boldin's departure leaves big shoes to fill for young receivers like Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss, and adding a moderately-priced veteran is a way to help soften the blow.
CenterRight now the Ravens only have one center on the active roster following Matt Birk's retirement. Second-year player Gino Gradkowski was drafted to be the heir to Birk, but the Ravens could look to bring in some veteran depth to challenge him for the starting job.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome said during the end-of-season press conference that the Ravens are looking to add another pass rusher to complement Terrell Suggs. Pass rushers typically go for big money in free agency, but the Ravens may look for a quality outside linebacker or defensive end once the initial signing spree slows.
Newsome also pointed to the interior of the defensive line as an area he would like to upgrade this offseason, and the Ravens may try to bring in a veteran to provide depth and challenge Terrence Cody for a starting job. The Ravens had a leaky run defense last season, and they want to shore up the middle of the defensive line through free agency or the draft.
Ravens Free Agents
Safety Ed Reed
Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe
Cornerback Cary Williams
Outside linebacker Paul Kruger
Left tackle Bryant McKinnie
Safety Sean Considine
Defensive lineman Ma'ake Kemoeatu
Tight end Billy Bajema
Cornerback Chris Johnson* *
Defensive lineman Ryan McBean
Linebacker Ricky Brown
Tight end Dennis Pitta (second-round tender)
Defensive lineman Art Jones (second-round tender)
Tight end Ed Dickson (original-round tender)
Offensive lineman Ramon Harewood
Long snapper Morgan Cox