Stay or leave: Forecasting the Ravens’ 2014 class of free agents

March 04, 2014 | Luke Jones

Stay or leave: Forecasting the Ravens’ 2014 class of free agents

With free agency set to begin at 4 p.m. next Tuesday, it’s time to predict who remains and who departs among the Ravens’ 13 unrestricted free agents, two restricted free agents, and six exclusive-rights free agents.

The 2014 salary cap was officially set to a record-high $133 million last week and the Ravens have just under $25 million in cap space after signing tight end Dennis Pitta to a five-year, $32 million contract that includes a cap figure of just $3.2 million for the 2014 season. Most media attention focuses on unrestricted free agents, but the Ravens’ list of restricted free agents and exclusive-rights players will take up a noticeable portion of that available cap space when tendered.

In much better cap position than they’ve been in a few years, the Ravens will likely have the ability to be a bigger player in the free-agent market than they are in most years, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has also valued compensatory picks over the years and signing unrestricted free agents hurts the formula in determining those.

Though the signing period officially begins on March 11, the NFL allows teams to enter into negotiations with the certified agents of players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in the three days leading up to the start of the new league year, meaning the rumors and speculation will pick up this weekend before the start of the signing period.

To see how I fared last year, check out my 2013 free-agent forecast HERE.

Unrestricted free agents

TE Dallas Clark: LEAVES
Skinny: Earlier this offseason, Clark expressed uncertainty whether he would play again in 2014, but it’s all but guaranteed that he won’t be back with the Ravens after he was no longer a factor when Pitta returned from injury last December.

NT Terrence Cody: LEAVES
Skinny: The 2010 second-round pick wasn’t quite the bust that fellow 2010 class member Sergio Kindle was, but he was certainly a disappointment in his four-year run with the Ravens and never really improved.

TE Ed Dickson: LEAVES
Skinny: He may have been the best blocking tight end on the roster the last couple years, but that was still an issue for the Ravens in 2013 and both sides appeared ready to move on by the end of last season.

CB Corey Graham: STAYS
Skinny: Viewed more as a luxury than a pressing need, Graham may ultimately fit into the Ravens’ plans with an improved cap position and the lack of quality cornerback depth behind Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb.

DT Arthur Jones: LEAVES
Skinny: Emerging as one of the better 3-technique defensive tackles in the AFC in his first full year as a starter, Jones figures to fetch the kind of deal that will be more than the Ravens are willing to pay with so many needs on the other side of the ball.

WR Jacoby Jones: LEAVES
Skinny: The door will remain open for a return at the right price, but the shortage of quality wide receivers on the open market will likely lead to another team overvaluing Jones’ limited ability as a wideout.

S James Ihedigbo: LEAVES
Skinny: All things being equal, the Ravens would like to have Ihedigbo back, but he deserves to start somewhere and 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam is a better fit at the strong spot than at the free safety position where he struggled as a rookie.

S Jeromy Miles: STAYS
Skinny: Plucked from Cincinnati’s roster early last season, Miles is a strong special-teams player and shouldn’t command more than the veteran minimum to remain with the Ravens.

OT Eugene Monroe: LEAVES
Skinny: The 26-year-old remains the Ravens’ top priority, but it’s clear that the sides have a difference in opinion of his value and a number of teams are looking for a left tackle, which doesn’t bode well for the chances of him re-signing.

OT Michael Oher: LEAVES
Skinny: A high-ranking member of the organization expressed the belief that Oher would be viewed as a left tackle if he were to remain with the Ravens, but he appears to be no more than a Plan C or D at this point.

RB Bernard Scott: LEAVES
Skinny: With Ray Rice dealing with legal problems and Bernard Pierce coming back from shoulder surgery, the No. 3 running back job has suddenly become a bigger priority and the Ravens will be looking for a substantial upgrade over Scott.

LB Daryl Smith: STAYS
Skinny: The Ravens took a chance on Smith last summer and he rewarded them handsomely with a strong 2013 season, so it makes too much sense to re-sign him after Jameel McClain was cut due to cap reasons last week.

WR Brandon Stokley: LEAVES
Skinny: The man who caught the first touchdown of Super Bowl XXXV announced his retirement at the end of last season but will always be a popular figure in Baltimore.

Restricted free agents

Restricted free agents have three accrued seasons in the league. The Ravens can offer a first-round ($3.113 million), second-round ($2.187 million), or original-round tender ($1.431) million to any of these players, giving them the right to match any offer sheet from an opposing team or to receive that team’s draft pick that matches the designation. The low tender awards a draft pick equal to the round in which the player was originally drafted. If the player originally went undrafted, it simply provides the team the right to match an offer sheet but awards no compensation should the player sign elsewhere.

WR Tandon Doss: STAYS
Skinny: The 2011 fourth-round pick has disappointed as a receiver, but his ability as a punt returner will lead to the Ravens either offering him the low tender or re-signing him on a cheap two-year contract.

LB Albert McClellan: STAYS
Skinny: McClellan was a non-factor defensively last season but is a strong special-teams player and has the ability to play all four linebacker spots, making him a likely choice to receive the low tender or an inexpensive two-year deal.

Exclusive-rights free agents

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. joe of bel air Says:

    Can’t say I disagree with any of your predictions Luke. Quick question. With the Ravens being $25 million under the cap how active do you think they will be in free agency. Specifically, do you see them making a big splash with anyone? Thanks

    (L.J. — Tough to predict them making a “big splash” — it’s just not their style and not entirely sure who would even be that target — but I would anticipate them being more active in free agency than they are most years. To maximize improvement this offseason, it’d really benefit to hit on a few 80-20 guys, meaning 80 percent of the production at 20 percent of the cost. That would also help keep them in ideal cap shape for the next few years.)

  2. Chris Says:

    I only disagree with the Jacoby jones comments. You stated that there were a lack of receivers scheduled to hit the open market. I’ve read there are around 50 receivers due to become free agents as well as the draft having a huge crop of potential receivers. The ravens may not want him back (unless for the vet minimum) but he’s not going to command a contract bigger than $2 Million per year.

    (L.J. — I meant to say quality receivers hitting the open market, but your point is taken. I still wouldn’t be shocked to see a team throw too much money at him based on his speed and return ability and thinking they can get more out of him as a receiver.)

  3. unitastoberry Says:

    I hope Arthur Jones stays out of our division. I think if he stays injury free he could end up all pro at some point. He keeps getting better. Shame to lose this guy if it happens.

    (L.J. — The Ravens love him but seemed resigned to losing him at the end of the season. He’s certainly gotten the most out of his ability.)

  4. joe of bel air Says:

    Hey Luke, what impact does the D Qwell Jackson signing have on the Ravens’ ability to re-sign Daryl Smith. I am sure Smith’s agent will argue that he deserves a similar contract to what the Colts gave Jackson. Do you think Ozzie will throw that kind of $ at a 32 year old linebacker.

    (L.J. — It certainly doesn’t help, but that’s why I think they’d like to get something done with him before Tuesday. I like Smith, but anywhere close to $11 million guaranteed for him would be a mistake. I’ve always thought a deal slightly north of the Jameel McClain deal from a couple years ago — three years, $10.5 million — would be a reasonable offer. He was good last season, but I’m not throwing big money his way. He’s good in pass coverage but was extremely average against the run last year.)

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