After deciding which players will be cut from the Ravens in order to clear cap room (as noted before: http://wnst.net/nfl/the-cut-list/), Ozzie Newsome will have more tough decisions on who can fit in the budget to resign. Needless to say this is the Wizards toughest offseason ever.
Everyone knows the big names that are impending free agents and everyone has their opinion on who is the top priority (well besides the Quarterback being No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 priorities). No matter who is resigned, there will be huge pieces to a championship run on a different roster next year.
This is my list of the Unrestricted Free Agent resignings for the Ravens (from most likely to least likely):
The “Bet on Yourself” Guarantee:
Joe Flacco (QB): The question is not if Joe will be back but for how much? Flacco could eat up a lot of cap room or all of it depending on where he thinks his market it at. Drew Brees contract is the starting point, whether it is more or less, is the multi-million dollar question.
The “Jersey Sales” Category:
Ed Reed (S): Reed’s decision will basically come down to his willingness to take a massive pay cut. He has spoken before about wanting to re-up his contract for one last pay day (namely the last two offseasons). In the end, a team, like New England (and man crushes Bill Belichick and Tom Brady) or Indianapolis (with his former Defensive Coordinator, Chuck Pagano at the helm), will offer him enough to leave Baltimore.
Paul Kruger (LB/DE): To break out in his contract year, Kruger earned himself a hefty payday at a position of need for every team. Someone is going to over extend for his potential to become an elite pass rusher; an offer the Ravens will not be able to match with so many others on this list.
The “Core of It” Category:
Danell Ellerbe (LB): With the retirement of Ray Lewis, and the possible cutting of Jameel McClain, Danell is probably the most important piece for Ozzie to bring back on the defense. He had an excellent 2012 campaign and could be the center piece for the linebacker core for years to come. If Flacco is priority 1-5, Ellerbe is 6; unless his price tag is a ridiculous number, Ellerbe will be back.
Cary Williams (CB): After having a rough start to the season, Williams had one of the better years for corners in the league. That should turn into lucrative contract offer from some team in need of help on the back end (which is a lot). Cary cashes in and replaced in the starting lineup by Lardarius Webb; not a too shabby consolation for Ozzie.
Bryant McKinnie (LT): This situation will be the most difficult and simply weirdest for the Ravens Front Office. Not starting until the playoffs, maybe sitting in Harbaugh’s” dog house,” McKinnie proved to be a valuable piece. His return all comes down to the loyalty to the team and how scorned he felt during the regular season. If he is back, he serves as stop gap until they can draft a Left Tackle anchor.
James Ihedigbo (S): His fate really relies on what is done with Ed Reed; as if Reed goes, the Ravens cannot afford to let him walk. He filled in nicely as a role player and is a good fit for the defense.
The “Rest (not coming back)” category:
Ryan McBean (DL)
Sean Considine (S)
Chris Johnson (CB)
Billy Bajema (TE)
Ricky Brown (LB)