Heading into the offseason, the Baltimore Ravens have a lot of decisions to make. In the past, the Ravens organization has always done a great job of managing their team and retaining key players. Here is what Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta have on their plate…
Unrestricted Free Agents
RB Ray Rice, LB Brendon Ayanbadejo, C Matt Birk, G Ben Grubbs, G-C Andre Gurode, LB Jarret Johnson, LB Edgar Jones, LB Jameel McClain, NT Brandon McKinney, S Haruki Nakamura, DE Cory Redding, TE Kris Wilson and SS Tom Zbikowski.
Restricted Free Agents
CB Lardarius Webb, CB Cary Williams, LB Dannell Ellerbe and RB Matt Lawrence
Ray Rice is number one on the todo list so don’t expect him to go anywhere. Whether he gets the franchise tag or a new contract, the Ravens cap space will take a sizable hit. Rice is the top tier of running backs and can be considered the most versatile back in the NFL given what he does in the passing game. The Ray Rice situation goes hand in hand with Ben Grubbs. The odds of the Ravens signing him are slim. After just inking Marshall Yanda to a huge 5 year, $32 million deal a year ago, it would be difficult to sign another top guard with so many other free agents to worry about.
Everyone is waiting on Matt Birk’s retirement decision. That outcome will have a big effect on what the Ravens decide to do in free agency. If he decides to retire, re-signing Andre Gurode is a must. He’s a pro-bowl caliber player and can play guard or center.
The Ravens have a lot of solid talent at the linebacker position. Unfortunately, a lot of that talent may be wearing a different uniform in 2012. I don’t see Jarrett Johnson returning next year. He’s now 30 and will most likely be lured by one of his former coaches in Rex Ryan or Chuck Pagano. Jameel McClain has shown great promise after starting for Ray Lewis when he was injured. He’s a player that the Ravens would love to keep but he may be enticed by some teams looking for a solid MLB.
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