The Ravens are currently 14.4 million dollars under the cap right now. That does not include an estimated 6.2 million worth of RFA and exclusive rights tenders. That leaves about 8.2 million for the season. I think there are several contracts the Ravens might restructure to save a bit more cap space if needed. That means that the Ravens will be bargain shoppers once again. With that in mind here are my top targets for the Ravens in free agency.
1. Chris Myers, C, Houston Texans- Its looking less and less likely that the Texans will manage re-sign Myers(Who is the only marquee player on this list). He will become a free agent at 4 p.m. tomorrow and is easily the best C in the class. The only reason Myers wont be more hotly pursued is that Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans are both better interior lineman than Meyers, and Meyers has played in a zone scheme his entire career and may not fit for most teams. Myers would be a major upgrade over Matt Birk who really struggled as the season progressed last season and would fill arguably the biggest weakness in the Ravens roster.
2. Eddie Royal, WR, Denver Broncos- The Ravens have been searching for WR help since 2002. They are actually closer to having a complete group now than they have been since the days of Shannon Sharpe(I know he was technically a TE), Quadry Ismail and Brandon Stokely(seems a little sad that those three are easily the best group the team has ever had). Torrey Smith looks like the real deal and Boldin still has a couple good years left in him but behind those two, the Ravens WR group is virtually useless. Undrafted rookie Laquan Williams was probably the third best WR on the team. Enter Eddie Royal. Royal has had an up and down career, he had nearly 1000 yards his rookie year, but has regressed since and only had about 150 yards in 8 games last year. Health has been an issue but the bigger issue has been the Broncos QB situation, which has been a nightmare since Jay Cutler forced his way off the roster. Royal could excel in Baltimore as a WR in addition to being the best return man on the team.
3. Steve Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles- Smith has had an interesting career. At times he has looked like a top 10 WR in the NFL but a massive injury in 2010 caused him to fall by the wayside and he eventually found a home in philly. Smith was a situational WR last year and until the last few weeks of the season he didn’t really look like he was full strength. He should be very cheap as a third tier WR. The best thing about Smith? He almost never drops passes.
4. Bobbie Williams, OG, Cincinnati Bengals- I’ve been talking about Williams for a while now. I think he would be a good fit and a very cheap temporary fix for the potential loss of Ben Grubbs. Williams isn’t anywhere near as good as Grubbs is, but he would be a serviceable player that likely wont have many pursuers in free agency.
5. Robert Meachem, WR, New Orleans Saints- Meachem might end up being a bit more expensive than the Ravens are interested in but with Josh Morgan drawing much more interest, Meachems stock could be falling a bit. Meachem has looked good in limited time in New Orleans and could flourish in a bigger role in Baltimore as a no.3 WR.
6. Scott Wells, C, Green Bay Packers- Wells would be higher on this list if not for the idea that I think he is going to get overpaid. Wells will be looked at as an alternative to Chris Meyers. I have a feeling he will be overpaid, but if he finds a weak market for his services, the Ravens could be a potential suitor. Wells would also be an upgrade over Birk and a potential long term solution.
7. Dan Conner, ILB, Carolina Panthers/Kirk Morrison, ILB, Buffalo Bills- The Ravens are going to need to do something about their ILB situation. Jameel McClain is a free agent and Elerbe is an RFA. They don’t need to splurge on a pricy player, they just need some depth. Elerbe will likely be tendered and is the likely starter but the Ravens need someone to push him for the job as Elerbe has a long history of lacking focus. Morrison and Conner are both fairly cheap options and would be put in a similar situation as Bernard Pollard last season.
8. Ted Ginn, WR/KR/PR, San Francisco 49ers- Anyone that watched the 49ers play last year knows exactly what Ted Ginn is used for. Two words…Big Plays. Ginn is primarily a return man and honestly doenst bring much to the table as a WR, but he would supply the Ravens with a top 5 return specialist and maybe a few easy TDs over the course of the season. Ginns biggest contribution might be getting Lardarius Webb off special teams so he can focus on becoming the best CB he can be and end the possibility of getting hurt again returning punts(he tore his ACL on a PR in 2009).
9. Brandon Merriweather, SS, Chicago Bears/Husain Abdullah, S, Minnesota Vikings- Its looking pretty likely that the Ravens will lose both Tom Zibikowski and Haruki Nakamura. With them gone, safety depth is going to be very limited and the Ravens will need some useful backups. Merriweather is a bit of a loose cannon but he is extremely talented and is a former probowler. As a backup he is a good option(read: he is a good option as long as you don’t have to trust him for anything important). Abdullah is the exact opposite, very high character player, very reliable. Abdullah is a similar player to Tom Zibikowski and would be a nice fit as a backup because he can play both SS and FS and should be pretty cheap.
10. Nick Hardwick, C, San Diego Chargers- Another C option for the Ravens here. Hardwick seems like he wants out of San Diego. The Ravens need a younger player to plug in at center. You may have noticed I have quite a few centers on the list. I am a bit worried about how long it is taking to re-sign Matt Birk. The Ravens and Joe Linta(Birks agent) met over a week ago to discuss the numbers on the deal. It should have been an extremely easy negotiation and should have come together very quickly. Yet here we are on the verge of free agency with no deal and no reported progress. That makes me think Birk and Linta might be asking for to much money for the Ravens to pay. Hardwick might be a bit cheaper and is younger.
Is there anybody else Ravens fans are interested in seeing in purple and black next year? Let me know.
Oshiomogho Atogwe was just released by the Redskins and should be considered a solid FA target for the Ravens. i would rank him equally to Abdullah and as a better and less risky option than Merriweather.