At 4:00 PM Eastern Time on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, existing contracts will expire for players that are slated to become Unrestricted Free Agents. From that time, players can sign with other teams. Of course, some teams, and players’ agents, will take advantage of the three days “negotiating” period (March 7-10) to set up deals, although players cannot sign a new contract with another team until 4:00 PM on March 10.
“The Baltimore Ravens might be forced to cut some players to clear cap space.”
The Baltimore Ravens, a team that has 13 players scheduled to become Unrestricted Free Agents, will probably lose some of their key players. They might also be forced to cut some additional players to clear cap space. As they work their way through this process, the Ravens must try to improve the team by adding available free agents, signing players cut by other teams to open cap space, acquiring select players through trade and drafting the best college players available in the NFL Draft.
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During this initial period (Free Agency), there are five Unrestricted Free Agents the Ravens should consider adding these five Unrestricted Free Agents to their roster:
- Cornerback Kareem Jackson (Texans)
Jackson is a young (26 years old) player with five years of NFL experience, primarily as a starter. He is roughly the size of Lardarius Webb (5’ 10”, 188 lbs) and his career numbers are comparable to Webb’s. Jackson averages 56 tackles (48 solo) per year over his career. He also averages 10 pass defenses and two interceptions per year. In contrast, Webb averages 50 tackles (43 solo), 12 pass defenses and 1.8 interceptions per year over his six years career.
If the Ravens are forced to part ways with Webb for cap reasons, Jackson would be a good replacement. In 2014 Jackson had 57 tackles (48 solo), 9 pass defenses and 3 interceptions in 13 games for the Houston Texans while Webb garnered 46 tackles (36 solo), 8 pass defenses and 1 interception in 13 games.
Although the numbers are very close, the financial numbers are not. In 2014, Webb had a base salary of $3.5 Million with bonuses of $4 Million with a $7.5 Million cap hit; Jackson, on the other hand, had a base salary of $3.09 Million with bonuses of $1.245 Million and a cap hit of $4.335 Million. In 2015, Webb will have a base salary of $8 Million with bonuses of $4 Million and a cap hit of $12 Million. If the Ravens replaced Webb with Jackson, there would likely be several million dollars in cap space and $2-5 Million in savings (lower salary and bonuses) while the production should be comparable to Webb’s.
- Safety Da’Norris Searcy (Bills)
Searcy, who has played for the Buffalo Bills for the past 4 years, is more of a candidate for Free Safety. He is a ball hawk that is strong in zone and off-man coverages. Although he is only “average” against the run, he excels in pass coverage and creating turnovers. Last year, he had a base salary of slightly over $1.4 Million with $121 Thousand in bonuses. Although he doesn’t possess the same skill level as Ed Reed (in his prime), Searcy has the same mindset and approach to the game.
- Outside Linebacker Brooks Reed (Texans)
Reed is a versatile Linebacker that can play outside or inside as well as the Defensive End position in a 4-3 set. He is very good against the run and is extremely versatile. Last year, Reed collected a little over $1 Million in base salary plus a $479 Thousand bonus. His cap number was just under $1.5 Million. The 27 years old Linebacker would be a great addition to the Ravens if his price is reasonable.
“Although Da’Norris Searcy doesn’t possess the same skill level as Ed Reed (in his prime), he has the same mindset and approach to the game.”
- Quarterback Colt McCoy (Redskins)
As he proved last season with the Washington Redskins, McCoy is good back-up QB. His career completion percentage is roughly the same as Joe Flacco’s (around 60.4 percent). He is a drop back passer with some mobility. Last season, he completed 91 passes with 3 interceptions out of 128 pass attempts (71.1 percent completion rate). McCoy, who had a cap number in 2014 of $635 Thousand, would presumably replace Tyrod Taylor whose cap number was $671 Thousand. Although the 2015 cap hit for both would be approximately the same, McCoy would be an upgrade over Taylor (a 54 percent passer who has never thrown an NFL touchdown in the regular season).
- Defensive Tackle Cedric Thornton (Eagles)
Thornton is stout against the run and the Ravens would be able to plug him in if Chris Canty calls it a career. Thornton is 26 years old and has a lot of “up side.” He has also been durable, not having missed a game in his three years NFL career.
With Backup Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, OLB/DE Purnell McPhee and Safety Will Hill hitting the free agent market, Chris Canty considering retirement and a Cornerback situation that resembles the Bronx Zoo, these five additions could fill in with no drop off in production while stabilizing an unsettled player personnel picture in Baltimore.