Ravens Will Try To Extend Next Year's Free Agents Now


Contract negotiations with Haloti Ngata, Torrey Smith and Justin Forsett are driving the headlines these days.

But they aren't the only key players the Ravens could work out long-term extensions with this offseason.

The Ravens have a history of trying to extend players heading into the final year of their contracts, and that means the front office could head to the negotiating table sooner than later with starters like cornerback Jimmy Smith, offensive guard Kelechi Osemele and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw.

"We've always felt the best time to get a fair deal for the player and for the organization is to attack it a year ahead," Newsome said.

When asked specifically about the possibility of extending Smith and Osemele, Newsome replied, "those are some of the guys that we will be talking about going forward."

Smith, a former first-round pick, is heading into his fifth season with the Ravens. He's set to play this year under a one-year option that the Ravens exercised before last season, which is reportedly worth $6.9 million.

The 26-year-old cornerback is in the midst of recovery from a Lisfranc injury that put him on injured reserve eight games into last season. Smith was having the best season of his career before injuring his foot, and he has emerged as a potential cornerstone piece of Baltimore's secondary.

"I think Jimmy is going to be a really good ball player," Newsome said. "He got hurt. I think he was playing at a very, very high level when he suffered that injury in Cincinnati."

The other young players who the Ravens could extend were members of the 2012 draft class.

Osemele thrived as a left guard last year after making a return from back surgery in 2013. He and veteran Marshal Yanda were the best guard tandem in the league, and he was a big reason that the running game had a resurgent season.

Osemele and Yanda are both entering the final years of their contracts, and the Ravens will have to determine if they can keep both of them with big money.

Upshaw was Baltimore's top pick of the 2012 draft class, and he's been a quality starter for the Ravens since that time. The hard-nosed defender is an edge setter in the running game, and he collected 42 tackles last season. The Ravens already have a deep group of highly paid outside linebackers with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, but Upshaw's specialty as an edge setter makes him a valuable piece of the defense.

Another player who the Ravens have already expressed interest in re-signing is kicker Justin Tucker, who has been historically good during his three years in Baltimore. Tucker is a restricted free agent this offseason, and the Ravens also tried to work out a deal with him last year. 

Planning years in advance is part of the strategy for Baltimore's front office. When Newsome huddles Head Coach John Harbaugh, Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta and cap specialist Pat Moriarty at Owner Steve Bisciotti's Florida home every offseason, they take a big-picture look at the upcoming few years.

Developing a gameplan for the looming extension talks was part of those meetings, and the Ravens could make some progress over the next few months.

"Part of the discussion that we have down in Florida, we not only talk about the current year, but we talk about years going forward," Newsome said.  

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