Super Bowl champs face critical free agency period

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The Baltimore Ravens have just over a month to bask on the glory of their football world championship. The free agency period will open on March 12, and G.M. Ozzie Newsome has likely already begun assessing the state of his team, which is littered with question marks.

By our count, the Ravens have 13 impending unrestricted free agents, at least eight of whom made significant contributions to the team’s Super Bowl run. Seven more Ravens are scheduled for restricted free agency.

Quarterback Joe Flacco tops the list of unrestricted free agents, and he is at the very least expected to be retained via the franchise tag. Outside linebacker Paul Kruger — Baltimore’s best pass rusher throughout this past season — is next up as a crucial impending free agent. Safety Ed Reed, left tackle Bryant McKinnie, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, cornerback Cary Williams, and nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu are other unrestricted free agents who started for the 2012 Ravens. Cornerback Chris Johnson, tight end Billy Bajema, safeties Sean Considine and James Ihedigbo, linebacker Ricky Brown, and defensive lineman Ryan McBean round out the 13 UFAs.

Core impending restricted free agents include tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, and defensive lineman Arthur Jones. Kick returner David Reed, offensive lineman Ramon Harewood, long snapper Morgan Cox, and safety Emanuel Cook are also slated for restricted free agency.

The Ravens will open the offseason $5 million above the 2013 salary cap, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Inevitably, Newsome is going to have to make some tough cuts and allow some key free agents to walk.

63 responses to “Super Bowl champs face critical free agency period

  1. I don’t know about you, but I’m sorely disappointed that it’s been almost 24 full hours since we’ve had a Jets/Tebow update.

    You missed a golden opportunity to work it into this Ravens-related article.

  2. Franchise Flacco & you’ll handicap the team. The cap hit will be too big. You have to sign him to a long term deal, give em a huge bonus & spread it out over say 5-6yrs.

  3. I have absolutely no idea where Schefter is getting that 5 million above the cap number. As multiple people have stated that the Ravens are in fact $15.7 million under the cap before factoring in retirements/cuts (as reported by John Clayton). Obviously Flacco will consume a large portion of that if a long term deal is not met.

  4. We will obviously sign or tag Joe.

    Kruger or Ellerbe will have to go. I would love to keep both, but it’s the nature of the beast. I think Ellerbe stays because Kruger will demand a bigger payday because of the position.

    It pains me to say it, but Reed might be playing somewhere else. If he does, I will still root for him whenever possible. I hope it’s NO and not NE, but you gotta do what you gotta do man.

    Williams probably won’t re sign here unless it’s a really cap friendly contract. He already turned down a decent deal before the season started, so I think he’ll walk. Still got Webb back healthy next year and Grahm stepped up bigtime.

    Pitta isn’t going anywhere. Dickson might go because you can’t pay two TE top money. This might wait a year though.

    Jones will eventually sign a nice cap friendly deal.

    I have no clue what will happen with McKinnie. He’s such an odd player. Sometimes he comes across as lazy and sometimes he looks like a pro bowl LT. That position demands huge money so if I had to guess I’d say he walks.

    The rest don’t have contracts large enough to really impact things, and won’t get them somewhere else.

    Besides that, we are just gonna have to keep building through the draft and great FA deals.

    Big changes are coming and, yes they’re may be some growing pains. This was going to happen no matter what, but it sure is sweet to be able to get the job done before this happened.

    Ozzie will get it done. He’s the man.

  5. Ravens front office is among the best in the business they will make it work and pick up a few nice drafts in the process…let it be stop trying to run stories to bring the trolls out.

  6. The big thing is going to be the Boldin contract. Dude is set to make a lot of money next season and a lot of people have speculated that they might let him go because of it.

    I think that Ozzie will try to work out a long term, much more cap friendly deal with him so he can retire a Raven.

  7. They are already $5 mil over and Flacco is looking for $20 mil. This team is going to look very different next year.

  8. They said that in 08 when we were in rebuilding mode, and we made the AFC championship game. They said that this year and we won a Super Bowl! Ozzie Newsome and company always keeps this team competitive by good drafting, and smart (cheap) free agent signings. Not worried…

  9. I really can’t believe the Ravens have cap problems after ravenator assured us only the pathetic steelers had cap problems…. How can this be….the all knowing ravenator lying….must have used the antler spray..

  10. Lewis and possibly Birks salaries will be coming off the boards. Flacco, Pitta, Dickson and Reed should be priorities. Everyone else can possibly be replaced. Ozzie is a wizard in the draft.

  11. It’s really not nearly as bad as it sounds…

    Ed Reed is honestly a liability at this stage in his HOF career. McKinnie didn’t play till the playoffs and is replaceable. Cary Williams underachieved big time this year and is also replaceable (Plus we get our top corner, Webb, back). Kemoeato didn’t play a big role, he won’t be missed.

    The only players that would have a legitimate negative impact if we lost them would be Kruger and Ellerbe, but we’ll keep at least one of them.

    Not as big of a deal as you’d like to make it out to be.

  12. Well since GOD is for the Ravens, I’m positive this will all work out in the Ravens favor! No worries…. nothing to see here

  13. First step in the process is denial – tough, but realize it is now time to rebuild… As a Bengals fan, thank you Joe Flacco for getting the MVP in the Super Bowl and raising your price tag as a FA.

  14. Cripes, That’s a long list. I really hope the Ravens find a way to keep any number of the following guys: Pitta, Dickson, Kruger, Ellerbe, and McKinnie. I doubt they’ll try signing Cary Williams since Webb will be back next season, and they have decent depth at the position between Brown and Graham. They could also consider moving Jimmy Smith over to free safety to replace the hole left by Ed Reed, and even draft Matt Elam if he’s available. Still, the defense looks like it has a lot more holes to fill than the offense.

  15. When you have an Elite qb, you’re a playoff threat every year. They’ll sign Flacco to a monster deal that they’ll be able to restructure every year just like we do with Eli.

    And yes…Flacco is elite and is no different than the aforementioned Eli. They both ho-hum in the reg. season then come alive in the playoffs. These faddie qbs like Kapernick, RGIII, Wilson will need to learn to read defenses soon or they won’t last. This is what separates the elites from the “who was that guy a few years ago that did ___”?

  16. Congrats to the Ravens and all their fans on the Super Bowl championship!! Was happy to see Ray Lewis go out on top! Hope I get to see the Dolphins win 1 someday!!!

  17. An elite QB can carry his team, Flacco is not elite. Ray Rice, making Flacco look elite since 08. Only way Joe will get elite status is if they go deep into the playoffs with a gutted team.

  18. Honestly, I am not worried. The Ravens are not letting Flacco walk. Take him off the list. That leaves 3 starters and a rotation guy.

    IMO, Ellerbe is the most important and most likely to stay.

    Cary Williams is gone, we knew that when he turned down the Ravens offer. He’s been solid but with Webb coming back, Jimmy Smith and Chykie Brown potentially emerging and Corey Graham’s lights out play, Williams is the most replaceable of the bunch because the Ravens are already fairly deep at CB.

    I’d like to see Kruger stay but he could score big with a desperate team.

    McKinnie was solid in the playoffs but there is a reason it took all season for him to get on the field. He’s not dependable. And honestly, the Ravens need to be searching for a long term solution at LT. His replacement is in the draft.

    Reed…. We will see what happens. A few years ago there was that big build up about Ray Lewis hitting FA and all the teams interested in him and how he could be done in Baltimore. Turned out Baltimore was the only team that wanted him. I suspect we could see something similar play out with Reed. What he gets on the open market, won’t be worth leaving the Ravens for in the long run.

    The Ravens always tender their RFA, not even worried about them.

  19. have absolutely no idea where Schefter is getting that 5 million above the cap number. As multiple people have stated that the Ravens are in fact $15.7 million under the cap before factoring in retirements/cuts (as reported by John Clayton). Obviously Flacco will consume a large portion of that if a long term deal is not met

    I’m not a ravens fan so I don’t know the specifics of everyone’s contracts, but being 5 million over sounds extremely inaccurate. The only big contracts I can think of are Rice Webb Yanda Ngata Suggs and Boldin. I’m sure I’m missing some but I see no reason the Ravens can’t keep everyone they want

  20. Has anyone seen the photoshopped picture going around today of Tom Brady in full uniform, ripping out wires from a panel in the bowels of the Superdome? I’m a lifelong Pats fan and I like Brady of course, but that is one freaking hilarious photo. They have a speech bubble coming out of his mouth that says “I ALWAYS win!!!”

    It’s kinda funny to think of Tom getting dressed, throwing on the cleats and smearing the black stuff under his eyes… then jumping in his Dodge Dart with his Pats helmet on and just mashing the pedal to the floor all the way to New Orleans to unplug the stadium during the big game… hahahahhaha!!!!

  21. Redskins are going to run the NFC once RGIII comeback.

    The Colts will be the team to beat in the AFC.

    Both of the Harbaugh squads will eventually fade into irrelevance.

  22. It was worth it to win a SB. You only get so many chances. For example skinsfan4lyf – it has been so long since your team was relevant, it must seem like a millennium huh?

    You will know how well the Ravens deal with it based on whether or not they franchise Joe. If they get a deal done with him early, it would be better.

    Sorry for all the fans wanting Pitta. He is going nowhere. Ed Dickson will be available. We can’t keep both.

    I would rather have Ellerbe than Kruger. Upshaw will take over Kruger’s spot and Ellerbe has learned enough from Ray to call all the signals. He will also be less money.

    McKinney is a mystery. Who knows what motivates that man other than hot dogs. But when he plays, he plays at a very high level. I see him getting an incentive laden contract and staying, with Oher staying on the right side or moving on.

    Won’t happen next year, but don’t be surprised if the year after the Ravens let go of Ray Rice and let Bernard Pierce take over. If they draft Tayvon Austin from WVU in the first or second round that will be what happens.

  23. The Ravens are $12.296 under last year’s cap and will get an additional $4.35 million for Ray Lewis retiring. The league usually increases the cap a few million each year, so the Ravens could be about $20-22 million under the cap. This isn’t the best situation, given that signing Flacco will absorb most of that cap space, but it’s better than the Steelers, who are $10.8 over the cap.

    I have to believe some players will restructure (e.g., Ngata, Suggs, Webb, McClain, Oher), Matt Birk may retire (that would free up $2.05 mil) and some current players might get cut (definitely Bobby Williams, which saves $1.2 million, maybe Jah Reed, Tandon Doss and even Jimmy Smith) to get the team in a good position to sign either Ellerbe or Kruger, some of the restricted free agents (most likely Pitta and Arthur Jones) and rookies. I’d rather have Kruger than Ellerbe, but I can understand if they let Kruger walk rather than Ellerbe. I don’t see Ed Reed back unless he takes a significant reduction in salary (currently at $7.2 million).

  24. Ray made a lot of head coaches in this league and you have to wonder if he made Ozzie look a lot better than he is. I love ozzie but when you think of the players and coaches that have left for other teams they never are as successful as they were with the Ravens. Hate on Ray all you want be the one constant in the Ravens history is 52! His drive and passion DEFINITELY elevates the effort of all those around him. I mean it took ozzie 16 years to finally draft a WR in torry smith.

  25. Bengals will win the division the next few years Raven got it while they could and congrats to them but they’ll be out of contention for a few years.

  26. Salary cap gets to every team eventually, just the nature of the beast. I don’t think Baltimore would change anything cause in this league it’s really hard to win it all and not only did they just do that, but they’ve consistently been in contention for most of the past decade.

  27. The Ravens and Steelers organizations have many common traits–including the ability to remain competitive while navigating salary-cap restrictions and free agency. I’m confident that Ozzie will be able to ensure the Ravens keep their most valuable players–particularly Joe Flacco–but some sacrifices will be made. Ed Reed will turn 35 at the start of next season. He’s often talked of retiring and/or moving on to another team. Great as he’s been for the franchise, it wouldn’t surprise me if he doesn’t come back.

  28. Does anyone else think that ravenator and logicalvoicessays may be the same brainiac bestowing their vast football knowledge on all “haters”?

  29. This has been discussed in depth here in title town for months. But for those out of the Baltimore area here we go:
    -Flacco signs. No brainer.
    -Pitta get slapped with a 1st, Dickson with a 3rd. Neither are leaving.
    -Ellerbe signs with Baltimore
    -Kruger unfortunately leaves. We have Suggs on one side and now Upshaw on the other.
    -Reed leaves and Jimmy Smith moves into a FS role. He’s a terrible cb with eyes in the backfield but he proved yesterday he has pop and a nose for the ball.
    -big Mack comes back IF he’s willing to take our offer. If not? FA will serve up something for cheap.
    -Birk retires. Gradkowski drafted last year is already his replacement.
    – restructure Boldin’s $6M and Jacoby’s $4M and extend.

    May I also remind you the draft is huge. Ravens have picks every round. And remember the effects of last years picks- Upshaw, Pierce, Tucker, and KO all played HUGE roles in that Super Bowl. 3 starters and 1 backup to probowl ray rice. Oz knows how to draft. No worries in title town.

  30. The Ravens should resign Flacco,Mckennie,Pitta and Dickson. And hope they can get back Ed Reed. They will definitely have to rebuild from the draft.

  31. my 2 favorite posts on this thread were the ones that said with this current group of players the ravens would be lucky to finish 8 and 8 next year. you mean the group that just won the superbowl? man you guys are hilarious. and bitter and jealous. go ravens!!

  32. They will keep Flacco.

    They must keep Ellerbe. I hope they keep Cary Williams.

    They will lose Kruger because he is one dimensional. They will lose Dickson because he is very inconsistent.

    I hope they keep McKinnie and Boldin, but that really depends on their position not the Ravens. Players like Dwayne Bowe would love to run under Flacco bombs. You forget…the Ravens have won playoffs 5 straight years, winners have a way of finding other winners.

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