The next two months are going to be hectic, crazy, fast-paced, exciting, headline filled, frantic, turbulent, chaotic, confusing, feverish, zoolike, frenzied, furious, tedious, frustrating, tumultuous and any other adjective you would care to throw into the mix.
Between now and April 28th we have a lot to look forward to(or brace ourselves for depending on how you look at things). Here is a schedule for the offseason along with an explanation of what to expect at these key dates.
Febuary 20th- teams can apply franchise tags and RFA tenders
expect Lardarius Webb to get a 1st and 3rd round RFA tender almost immediately, Cary Williams and Tom Zibikowski are also near locks to receive tenders(a 1st for Cary and a 2nd for Zibby). The only other name to worry about here is Haruki Nakamura who may also receive a RFA tender, I think he could be replaced in the later rounds of the draft if he is allowed to walk.
February 22-28- NFL Combine
I would pay extra special attention to the WR drills and especially(even though many people think they are boring) the OL drills. The 40 yard dash is the flashiest event but in reality it is one of the less important parts of the offseason unless the prospect is a speed guy. I will be writing a full list of who and what to watch at the combine, as well as a daily recap once we get a little closer to the event.
March 5th- Deadline for Franchise/Transition(RFA) tags(read, last day to sign Rice)
This is one of the most important dates for Ravens fans to know. By the 5th we will know whether or not Ben Grubbs is destined to be a Raven next year. If Ray Rice has a new deal worked out by this date(more on this in a second) then it is fairly likely that Ben Grubbs could get the Franchise tag using part of the cap space that the Ray Rice deal saved. If Rice has to get the tag, which I think is about 90% likely because the Ravens traditionally don’t work out new deals very fast, then Ben Grubbs will almost definitely be playing somewhere else next season. There is just no way the Ravens can get in a bidding war for him on the open market. This is also the date that players that will get cut will likely be cut by. Guys to watch here are Dom. Foxworth(who might do the Ravens a huge favor and just retire instead so the Ravens don’t take a cap hit), Lee Evans(who I think will be back but with a reworked contract), Chris Carr(who I think will almost certainly be gone, and possibly Ricky Williams.
March 13th- Free Agency Begins
This is a great FA class, but don’t get to excited, the Ravens have almost no cap space. They are currently sitting at about 119 million on a 120 million cap. The cap will go up a bit but it isn’t expected to be a huge jump(that should take place next year after the new Thursday night football package goes into effect) the new cap is expected to be about 125 million. After all the FA payroll comes off the books along with the contracts of Heap, Mason, McGahee and Gregg(who are all still partially counting against the cap) the Ravens should have about 20-28 million of free cap space. Sounds like a lot right? Wrong. The new Rice deal will likely be at least 8 million off the cap space, after that the Ravens will have a 40 man roster and less than 18 million in cap space. They will need about 6 million to sign their draft picks(unless they trade down) which leaves between 10-12 million. If they rework the contracts of Lee Evans and sign Flacco to an extension that is relatively back-heavy they should have enough room to make a couple moves but don’t expect anything flashy. Expect Andre Gurrode to be back, Matt Birk as well(barring retirement) and possibly Brenden Ayenbedejo, although BA might bear to high of a price tag, I think the Ravens sorely need him if Jarrett Johnson is allowed to walk away. I would also expect the Ravens to sign a OG and an OLB, not any of the top teir guys but they will find a solid contributor.
March 25th-28th- NFL Owners Meetings
Not a ton to watch here, a couple new safety rules will be put into effect, some things will be voted on, the new years revenue projection will be announced but nothing to exciting here although there is a strong possibility that the owners will look at moving the Trade deadline back to week 10 or 12 as opposed to week 6 like it currently is, Commissioner Goodell suggested that they may look into this earlier this season.
Mid April- First round of OTAs
The new CBA only allows teams 10 OTAs for the whole offseason, the first 2-3 should occur around this time. Again nothing to exciting, it will be a first look at the new Ravens players from free agency.
Late April- NFL Schedule announcement
This isn’t really exciting either(but NFL network will have a 2 hour special on it anyway) we already know who the Ravens will be playing and where, this just tells us the order of the games.
April 26th- First Round of the NFL Draft(Ravens currently hold the 29th pick)
This is my favorite weekend of the year. The Ravens have a tremendous track record in the draft. They hold the 29th pick but they have a long history of turning poor draft position into great players. A lot of people like to say “the Ravens will go this way” but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, who is the best player who is likely to fall down the boards. I will write an article about this later but just to throw a couple names out(not anything ground breaking mind you) I would say Vontaze Burfict and Cordy Glenn. Burfict is a top 10 talent but he has a serious attitude issue, he is almost completely unable to restrain himself of the field and because of that he gives up a lot of easy plays when he gets mad, enter Ray Lewis. Lewis might be one of the angriest players(on the field) in NFL history, but he never allows that rage to consume him, he is the most focused person I have ever seen. If he can help Burfict learn to use his rage to help him instead of hurt him, he could be a hall of fame caliber player someday, if not he could be out of the league in 5 years or less, and im not exaggerating, the floor is that low and the ceiling is that high. Cordy Glenn is the other guy, he is insanely versatile, he could literally play all 5 positions on the OL and be at worst a serviceable player. He excels at OG and is a tremendous pass protector, the more I think about it and the more I watch Glenn play, the more I think he is the guy if he is available(that’s a huge if), the thing that could cause him to fall is that he might actually be punished for his versatility, teams wont know what to do with him, he isn’t a first round caliber tackle or center, but long term he might be better suited to play RT than LG which is where he is now, the problem is do you draft a LG in the first round to play him at RT or do you wait and grab a second round RT? This could cause a lot of teams to take a pass.
April 27th-28th- 2nd-7th rounds of the draft
Im not going to go into much detail here but I will throw out a couple preliminary names to watch out for.
2nd round- Kevin Zeitler(OG, Wisc), Stephon Gilmore(CB, SCAR), Nate Potter(LT, Boise), Mike Adams(LT, Ohio St.), Juron Criner(WR, Arizona), Chris Polk(RB, Washington)
3rd round- Juron Criner, Nick Toon(WR, Wisc), Mohomed Sanu(WR, Rutgers), Chris Polk(RB, Washington), Doug Martin(RB, Boise), Wes Horton(DL, USC)
4th round-Doug Martin, Chase Thomas(LB, Stanford), Markelle Martin(S, Okla. St.)
I don’t want to speculate much further than that because at this point in the offseason, we really don’t know yet how teams are liking players in the middle to late rounds. This will become clearer as we get closer.
Late April/Early June- Rookie camps
This is the first look at the new rookie class. Time to just soak in the moment.
June 29th-July 2nd- Roy Helu/Lardarius Webb Football camp
With training camp moving to 1winning drive events like these are more important than ever and offer a rare chance for kids to get up close and personal with their favorite player and have a great experience. Webb and Helu are the guys running the show but other players(both current and former) from both the Ravens and the Redskins will be there as well(last year Joe Flacco, Bart Scott Anquan Boldin and others were in attendance). more information can be found at footballcamps.com.
Late July- Training Camp
All the Ravens players are back on 1 winning Dr. and getting back to business. It wont be as exciting as last year when we didn’t know if they would ever come back, but it will still be pretty fun.
Sept. 6th- NFL season kicks off
I don’t know who they will play or who will be on the team but im sure it will be a great game, the Ravens are 3-0 in week 1 under Harbaugh and will still have arguably the most talented roster in the league. GO Ravens!!!
Tags: Andre Gurrode Baltimore Ravens Ben Grubs Cap Space Cary Williams Chase Thomas Chris Carr Chris Polk Cordy Glenn Dominique Foxworth Doug Martin Football Free Agency Haruki Nakamura Jarrett Johnson Joe Flacco Juron Criner Kevin Zeitler Lardarius Webb Lee Evans Markell Martin Matt Birk Mike Adams Mohomed Sanu Nate Potter NFL NFL Cap NFL Draft NFL Offseason Nick Toon Ozzie Newsome Ravens Ray Lewis Ray Rice RFA Tender Ricky Williams Rodger Goodell Salary Cap Stephon Gilmore Tom Zibikowski Vontaze Burfict Wes Horton