#3 – Addressing the Receiving Corps
For all of the talk of Flacco “earning money” by way of his post-season performance, there were few who have been truly dialed in with the Ravens that even gave thought to the notion that Flacco would be anything but a Raven in 2013. That said, most probably began the post-season with the expectation that Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones would either be asked to restructure their current deals or find themselves as cap casualties once the dust settled. If anyone made money for themselves, on these Ravens, with their off-season performances it was those two.
Ideally, the Ravens would still probably prefer to restructure the Jones and Boldin deals, but depending on the players’ willingness to cooperate, the other decision might not be so easy. Couple that with Dennis Pitta’s restricted free agency, and the Ravens have some quick reacting to do; or they could be looking at a very different corps of targets for Joe Flacco next year.
#4 – Finding an Edge Rush
The Ravens’ 37 sacks last year ranked tied for 15th in the league and tied for 7th among the 12 teams that qualified for the playoffs. If the NFL is now a passing league (and it is) then the importance of finding guys capable of pressuring the quarterback has become a priority by default. While some level of consideration has to be given to Terrell Suggs’ absence to begin the season and the process that he had to go through in trying to get back to 100%, this becomes a very important year for him and his defensive line-mates.
More importantly, it’s all but a foregone conclusion that some team will pay Paul Kruger more money than the Ravens think he’s worth, or at least more than the Ravens can afford to match once he hits free agency. Kruger’s 9.5 sacks were far and away the best on the Ravens, leaving the team in a position to have to replace that production at least before they can even consider improving on last year’s middling sack total.
Guys who can get after the passer have been coming off the board earlier and earlier in recent NFL drafts, so while having a surplus of supplementary picks should be helpful, having to wait until 32nd before picking anyone makes finding a replacement anything but a slam dunk.
#5 – Go for the Bronze
With lots of serious business on the agenda, the Ravens still find themselves celebrating not only a World Championship, but also the end of a truly great era. Stopping to smell the roses should be important, but it should also be difficult for a team beginning a new era and trying to keep their “window open”. I can’t wait to see that Ray Lewis statue though.