The Baltimore Ravens have a handful of unrestricted free agents going into the offseason. Some deserve to stay, while others may have seen their time in Baltimore come to an end.
According to the Baltimore Ravens’ Late to Work, here is a list of the Ravens’ unrestricted free agents:
DT Arthur Jones
CB Corey Graham
LB Daryl Smith
TE Dallas Clark
TE Ed Dickson
TE Dennis Pitta
WR Jacoby Jones
OT Michael Oher
As I pointed out in my post about the Ravens’ Pro Bowl selections, I like Daryl Smith, and I hope the Ravens keep him. Smith finished the season with 123 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions.
Smith provided a decent replacement for Ray Lewis in the backfield. He has made his mark, and I think he proved himself so he will be brought back to Baltimore if he wants to return.
In my experience of seeing deals done with players, the Ravens could choose to do a simple one-year contract to get the negotiations out of the way to deal with other issues. I believe Smith deserves more than another one-year deal, so hopefully the Ravens will sign him so he stays around for awhile.
Dennis Pitta is probably a no-brainer. He only played in four games this season because of injury. So, I don’t think it’s too much to say that the Ravens will try to resign him.
Though it is only a small piece of the offense, Pitta should help Flacco regain some his former glory by being healthy starting next season.
With three tight ends as unrestricted free agents this offseason, it seems to make sense for the Ravens to pick up two of them. Pitta would be one, and Ed Dickson would probably the other. Dallas Clark did not make an impressive statement as a Raven this year.
Then there’s Jacoby Jones, who did very little as a receiver, but much more as a kick returner. With Jones’ kick return success, I would think the Ravens would try to re-sign him as a kick returner more than as a receiver.
I remember in the beginning of the season with the loss of receivers, Jones had to take on a stronger role. The original plan was for him to have a small role as a receiver, and it may go back to that … if the Ravens find his kick return success enough to bring him back.
The one player almost every fan has predicted to leave Baltimore is Michael Oher. Oher has not been maturing, as he leads the league in penalties since coming to Baltimore. This has been noted dozens of times by game commentators.
Oher has not made any strong argument for the Ravens to keep him this offseason when the offensive line will be revamped, I sadly don’t see any reason for him to remain in Baltimore.
Eugene Monroe was acquired earlier in the season, and he should be re-signed, as he was a bright spot on the offensive line if there was any. You could almost say the Ravens need to rebuild the offensive line around Monroe.
Another note I want to make is on James Ihedigbo, whom I have heard by some analysts should not be resigned because of Matt Elam. They both essentially play the same position. Elam is originally a strong safety, and Ihedigbo is also, so by placing one in the free safety (Ed Reed‘s old position) would be taking them out of their strengths.
Ihedigbo racked up 101 tackles this season, and proved to be a great player in the secondary. I believe he earned a spot to return to the Ravens even if it means taking him out of his strong safety position.
If the Ravens pick up a true free safety, either Ihedigbo or Elam may be found as backups rather than starters.
The Ravens most likely cannot sign every unrestricted free agent, so some of the players listed above will be leaving Baltimore. There are always those players who want to try out the free agency market, and I’m sure there are a few of those in the list.
It should be a busy offseason for the Ravens. This is only the beginning. Free agency starts March 11th 2014.