As the 2010 NFL offseason moves forward, the Baltimore Ravens, like the other 31 teams in the NFL, are looking to improve their team through the free agent market.
With an uncapped year looming, free agency as we know it has been turned on its ear. Over 200 players who were originally slated to be Unrestricted Free Agents are now Restricted Free Agents under the current collective bargaining agreement. Obviously, this could hamper the Ravens’ ability to address their needs through the free agent market.
Sure, owners may use this uncapped year to rid themselves of some big salaries, but the Ravens are not in a position to go out and get one of those big name/big dollar free agents.
For example, if you think the Ravens are going to sign Julius Peppers, I have a purple unicorn that I’ll sell you on the cheap.
For starters, let’s all agree that the Ravens have three main areas of concern: wide receiver, tight end, and a defensive upgrade (either a pass rusher or a defensive back).
It’s no secret that the Ravens’ secondary struggled at times last year. Sometimes coverages were blown, but many times mistakes in the front seven (i.e. lack of a pass rush) left corners and safeties vulnerable. If the Ravens add another pass rusher to complement Suggs, that would take a lot of pressure off of the defensive backs to have to cover receivers for long periods of time.
And if you go back and look at the tape, especially toward the end of the season, the Ravens secondary made some significant improvements in every facet of the game. Greg Mattison and the coaching staff did a better job of scheming and making mid-game adjustments, and the players themselves put forth a better overall effort as far as tackling and coverage. Frankly, they just looked more focused.
But most importantly, they improved as a unit despite the slew of injuries. I guess the emergence of Lardarius Webb certainly didn’t hurt either.
This may be unpopular in some circles, but the DB position is probably not the Ravens’ main concern in this year’s free agent market.
And it shouldn’t be.
Defensive back talent is at a premium in the league, and teams tend to overpay for tenured veterans at that position (see also the Dominique Foxworth signing last year). The Ravens should choose to address that position in the draft, and probably will not do so until the later rounds.
The Ravens should also choose to address the tight end position in the upcoming draft instead of the free agent market. This year’s wide receiver class is not as deep as it has been in years past, and the Ravens are more likely to get a game-changing tight end at #25 than a top-notch wide receiver at that draft spot. Dez Bryant won’t fall that far, and after him, I wouldn’t waste a first-round pick on Golden Tate and the like.
As far as pass rushers go, it would be nice to have Julius Peppers on the roster.
It would also be nice if I didn’t have to pay taxes.
Peppers is simply out of the Ravens price range and is an unrealistic option at this point.
Richard Seymour? Pass. Too old.
Jason Taylor? Pass. See above.
Kyle Vanden Bosch? Eh…tempting. But he’s 31 and his stats took a dive this past year. Maybe due to injury, but maybe he’s entering the November of his career. Pass.
Aaron Kampman would be a good pick up…two years ago. His recently torn ACL makes him a liability.
If I were Ozzie Newsome, I would make sure that I re-sign Justin Bannan and try to address this position in the draft as well. Penn State’s Jared Ordick could still be there at #25.
The current free agent wide receiver list looks like a Christmas wish list if you’re a Ravens fan. But we have to look at the big picture here.
Miles Austin? Vincent Jackson? Too pricey. Both will probably end up re-signing with their current teams.
Brandon Marshall? A wonderful talent, but a locker room cancer. I like to call him T.O. Jr. for short, mainly because B.M. doesn’t really register appropriate with most people.
All of the previously listed free agents just don’t fit the mold for what the Ravens need. Whether it’s a financial matter or a matter of having the proper personnel in place, the cupboard looks bare in the free agency market for the Ravens at these positions.
Except for Malcom Floyd…yeah, the other tall athletic guy from the Chargers.
He fits the profile of what the Ravens are looking for: young, tall, athletic, and fast. And he won’t be nearly as expensive as his counterpart Jackson.
Ding ding ding, we have a winner!
The Sun’s Mike Preston wrote a great column on Malcom Floyd a few days ago, and I agree with him. Floyd fits the “right player, right price” model that has worked so well for the Ravens over the past decade.
At the end of the day, this is all just speculation. There isn’t a potion or tonic to magically fix all of the Ravens’ problems over night, or over one off-season for that matter. And nobody has a crystal ball that can tell us exactly how the draft will shake out, despite what Todd McShay and Mel Kiper may think.
But, it’s certainly fun to talk about. If nothing else, the pending uncapped year will give us something to think about besides the weather forecast.
At least until pitchers and catchers report.