The free agency market has been busy with players moving from team to team, but the Ravens have primarily stayed out of the high-stakes bidding wars.
Instead of spending top dollar to bring in unrestricted free agents, the Ravens are more focused on adding quality veterans and locking up their young talent for years to come.
"I've got enough guys like Dennis Pitta and Arthur Jones that are coming up that we've restricted that the money might go to them because I don't want to be in the same situation with those young guys as I sign somebody else's veteran," Owner Steve Bisciotti said at the owners meetings this week.
At the top of the Ravens' priority list is getting extensions for Pitta and Jones, who are both restricted free agents. Bisciotti also told The Baltimore Sun that the team would like to sign tight end Ed Dickson and offensive tackle Michael Oher to long-term deals.
"Those are the four starters that are unrestricted free agents at the end of next year," Bisciotti told The Sun. "That's where we want to spend our money, and that's why we can't turn around and lose guys in free agency and go find free agents and spend that money."
Pitta, Dickson and Jones are all restricted free agents this year, and Oher is in the final year of his rookie contract. The Ravens offered second-round tenders to Pitta and Jones (worth $2.023 million) and an original-round tender to Dickson (worth $1.323 million).
The restricted free agent market is historically quiet, so it is unlikely that the Ravens will lose one of their restricted players to another team.
But by signing them before this season, the Ravens would lock them up for years to come and could structure their deals to give the team freedom under the salary cap. It would also prevent the Ravens from potentially losing them to free agency next year, like what happened with Cary Williams, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe.
Pitta and Jones are both coming off breakout seasons, Dickson has developed into a reliable player and Oher has started every game since coming into the league. The Ravens reportedly started preliminary contract talks with Oher last season.
Pitta continued to develop as one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets, and he finished the season with 61 receptions for 669 yards and a team-leading seven touchdowns. He added 163 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the playoffs.
Dickson wasn't as involved in the passing game, but he was a key part of the running attack as the top blocking tight end on the team. He finished the year with 21 receptions for 225 yards and no touchdowns.
Oher spent the regular season at left tackle before veteran Bryant McKinnie took over the starting job in the postseason, sliding Oher back to the right side. He performed better at right tackle, but the Ravens have left the door open to playing him at either position in the future.
Defensively, Jones has developed into a versatile lineman with the ability to stuff the run and get after the passer. The former fifth-round pick registered 47 tackles and 4.5 sacks during the regular season.
Bisciotti made it clear that he wants to keep the nucleus of young talent in place, and extending those four players would go a long way in doing that.
"We have that talent resting on our rosters right now," Bisciotti said. "I know that's the very next phase, talking to those guys' representatives and finding out if we can't work something out that works for both sides."