March 4th, 2014
The offseason has reached the two month mark, and free agency will be starting soon. One of the active teams, the Baltimore Ravens, who lost most of their players after the 2012 season, will probably be making a few other big changes as they look to stay in contention. Here is a recap of the first 2 months of the offseason for the Ravens.
The first move that the Ravens made in the offseason was in the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell was chosen as the newest head coach of the Detroit Lions, so the first priority was to find a new OC. The wait did not last long. Former Texans coach Gary Kubiak was chosen for the job. Kubiak helped the Texans have a great rushing attack (with Arian Foster and Ben Tate) and a solid passing attack (with Andre Johnson). He will look to improve the underachieving running game while developing former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.
The second priority was to retain some of the stars. Two important players, tight end Dennis Pitta and linebacker Terrell Suggs, were given multiyear contracts. Pitta was injured for most of last season but is Joe Flacco's favorite target. Suggs, a former Defensive Player of the Year, is the best defensive player and leader, not to mention a fan favorite, and the deal will likely make him a Raven for life. These were good moves that the Ravens needed to stay competitive.
Unfortunately for Baltimore, Joe Flacco's massive contract caused them to lose a lot of players last year and will again force them to cut players this year. Two underrated players, fullback Vonta Leach and linebacker Jameel McClain, will be let go after multiple seasons with the team. Leach is a former All-Pro, but he was not a priority for the team. McClain has been with the team for many years but Suggs was needed more. These two moves saved up about 5 million in cap space but will hurt the team.
The Ravens will make a few more moves, ranging from free agency to the draft. Other free agents for the team include offensive tackle Michael Oher, receiver and return specialist Jacoby Jones, linebacker Daryl Smith, offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, defensive end Arthur Jones, safety James Ihedgibo and cornerback Corey Graham. Oher will likely not be resigned, and Monroe was not given the franchise tag. Daryl Smith and Jacoby Jones should be retained because the Ravens have needs at both of their positions. Unfortunately for Ravens fans, most of these players will be let go into the market.
Hopefully, Ozzie Newsome will get a few free agents this offseason. Baltimore has needs at fullback because of Leach's departure, wide receiver, offensive line, and secondary. The most important are probably wide receiver and offensive line. Joe Flacco had a career high in interceptions and the running game was the worst in the NFL despite having star Ray Rice- both partly because the offensive line. Receiver is also a real need because the Ravens have only two proven targets- Pitta and receiver Torrey Smith. Baltimore should aim for a few players to help those needs. Current Raven Eugene Monroe and Chief Brandon Albert should be signed to fill one of the offensive tackle spots, and Alex Mack is a great free agent center. Wide receivers are also a big need and a few bargains are Eagles receiver Jason Avant, Cardinals receiver Andre Roberts, and Chiefs Do-It-All man Dexter McCluster, one of my favorite players in the league.
The Ravens also have multiple draft picks to fill their needs. General Manager Ozzie Newsome has a top 20 pick to use for the first round, and there are a few players that could fall into their hands. Receivers Marqise Lee and Mike Evans would be great fits and tackles Taylor Lewin and Zack Martin are also solid picks. If C.J. Mosley is still available, the former Alabama inside linebacker would be the perfect fit in the defense. In the last 6 rounds, the Ravens should choose dynamic playmakers, such as Kent State RB Dri Archer, but the emphasis should be toward offensive line and receiver help.
Baltimore did not make the playoffs last year, but hopefully they will make a few signings that will bring them back into the mix. Their moves in the last two months have certainly helped that goal.
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter