The past several weeks, I have examined possible targets for Baltimore, leading up to this day, as free agency begins at 4pm. The two biggest holes for the Ravens after last year’s disappointing 8-8 season is clearly Wide Receiver and Offensive Line. The team needs to do all it can to build around Joe Flacco, after paying him as their franchise player. After already examining some options in the trenches for the Ravens HERE, this is some more players of interest for the lineman hungry team (you can also find thoughts on WR options HERE and HERE). This is a look at possible offensive line targets for the Ravens.
ERIC WINSTON (OT Arizona Cardinals)
Winston has been a prototypical RT since coming into the NFL as a third round pick out of Miami in 2006. He started his career under Gary Kubiak, while being a successful run-blocker in the zone-blocking scheme. Though he has bounced around to the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals the past two seasons, he has played in every game in his eight year career.
Though Winston is not the greatest athlete, he did start his college career as a TE, before eventually moving to the offensive line. He does have the ability to push defensive lineman back, while holding blocks down the field. He is a strong locker room presence, as always been considered a high-character guy.
As he is turning 31 in the upcoming season, Winston will be more of a stop-gap than long term solution for any team looking for a RT. His contract demands will not be significant, as he is looking for a team to stick with. His familiarity with Gary Kubiak will give the Ravens an advantage when negotiating with the veteran.
RYAN HARRIS (OT Houston Texans)
Harris has bounced around the NFL, after having some succes season in Denver to start his career. After being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012, he found a home as a third tackle for the Texans. At 28, he still has some football left in him, whether it be as a starter or injury replacement.
With his frame, he is an ideal RT in the zone-blocking scheme, with his ability to be a road-grader in the running game. He has two years experience with Gary Kubiak, who understands his strengths and weaknesses.
Harris will be looking for a starting spot in free agency, with limited options on the market, as teams may be more inclined to go with a younger player to groom. He is another free agent that is more likely a stop-gap in free agency than a long-term solution. He is a depth player that the Ravens could pursue, offering an opportunity compete in training camp.
ZACH STRIEF (OT New Orleans Saints)
As mentioned in the last OL post, the Saints are cap-strapped, while trying to handle the Jimmy Graham situation. They may not be willing dole out any money to a player not at a key position (LT or C) along the line. He has championship experience, as well as a team captain for a very good organization.
He has been an underrated cog for New Orleans the past couple seasons, especially with the turnover they had at other spots on the line (LT, LG and C). Playing in such a high-octane offense means he is familiar with a fast pace and ability to get to the second level. He has been asked to block in space with the amount of screen passes they deploy on a regular basis.
Strief may be the best RT on the market, meaning teams trying to lock up the position will likely have to overpay for his services. Though at 30, he still has several good seasons left, to solidify the right side for win-now teams. He obviously is looking for another opportunity to get another ring, limiting the franchise that could vie for him.