Feb 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh who has ash on his forehead for Ash Wednesday speaks to the media during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The NFL Combine is swinging into full gear, and as team officials continue evaluating young, up and coming talent, they are also evaluating the state of their current rosters. The Baltimore Ravens free agents include a few roster conundrums with key players like Torrey Smith, Justin Forsett, Owen Daniels, and Pernell McPhee getting ready to hit the market. There are also cap questions concerning veterans Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb.
Head coach John Harbaugh spoke with the press from Indianapolis on Wednesday and partially addressed these roster concerns. Harbaugh expressed confidence that an extension will get done with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, one that will both keep him in Baltimore past this coming season and lower his mammoth $16 million dollar cap hit in 2015. The Ravens could save $8.5 million by releasing the 31 year old outright.
Webb’s contract is another issue the team hopes to address. Unlike Ngata, Webb has three years left on his current deal, but he carries a reported $12 million dollar cap hit in 2015. It’s a huge number for a guy that was far from elite in 2014. And then there’s the question of Torrey Smith, who largely had an up and down year last season. But Harbaugh expressed confidence that the team could work something out with all three players.
“I believe those guys all want to be back and we want those guys back,” Harbaugh said when asked about Smith, Ngata and Webb. “That should bode well and we should have a shot to get them back.”
What the coach did not address were the situations concerning unrestricted free agents Pernell McPhee, Justin Forsett, and Owen Daniels. McPhee is expected to test the market and is very likely to find some nice contract offers awaiting him. As an emerging pass rush specialist, he is a valuable commodity. The 29 year old Forsett and 32 year old Daniels are unlikely to find much money on the open market, though Daniels should find a home in Denver with old pal Gary Kubiak if needed.
Ultimately it’s hard to gauge whether any of the Ravens’ UFA’s will land back in Baltimore, but Justin Forsett would be a smart keep for a team that has struggled to gain more than 4.0 yards per carry over the last two seasons without the shifty back lining up in the backfield. He should come fairly cheap on a 2 year deal, and would be well worth the cash.
McPhee is as good as gone, and Smith is a toss up at this point. He wants to stay in Baltimore, but the team would be wise to not overpay here. He hasn’t shown that he is worth #1 money to this point in his career, though a receiver needy team out there might just be willing to pay him as such. It only takes one team, after all, to fall in love with a player. We’ll know for sure once the feeding frenzy of free agency opens up March 10th.