Tag Archive | "Cory Redding"

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Chapter 17: The Last Ride of 52

Posted on 02 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

Your lowest moment is always when you feel your greatest pain. When I tore my triceps, and the doctor looked at me and she told me that, you know, I was out for the year. And I said, ‘Doc, are you sure?’ I said, ‘Nah. Doc – there’s no way I’m [going] to be out for the year with just a torn triceps. I’ve been through way worse.’ And she was like, ‘Ray, you know, nobody’s ever come back from this.’ And I said, ‘Well, you know, nobody’s ever been Ray Lewis, either.’ ”

– Ray Lewis (January 2013)

 

 

 

AFTER ALL THAT THE RAVENS had been through in their rocky December – three losses in a row, the firing of Cam Cameron, the preseason-style game in Cincinnati to end 2012 – the road to a Super Bowl was still very much alive in January. And there’s nothing to stir the passions of Baltimore football fans like seeing the stolen blue horseshoe and the five-letter word that’s associated with evil in the land of pleasant living: I-R-S-A-Y. The Indianapolis Colts were coming to Baltimore again, a visit that still elicits plenty of emotion from the over-40 crowd.

And this time it wasn’t the bravado and no huddle mastery of Peyton Manning that would confront the Ravens. Peyton was staying warm in Denver, waiting to see if the Ravens would be journeying to the Mile High City next week. This time, the Colts had a different hotshot quarterback in Andrew Luck. The Ravens could never solve Manning – and still couldn’t earlier in December – but this time it would be a different look and a different team coming from Indy. In 2011, a gimpy version of the Colts on the last legs of the Dungy era and the Jim Caldwell head coaching run, were shellacked 24-10 by the Ravens in Baltimore as quarterback Dan Orlovsky ran for his life amidst a purple swarm all afternoon. Orlovsky wouldn’t be running the show this time.

This time, Caldwell would be running the Ravens offense and the guy who was running the Baltimore defense in 2001 would be the head coach of the Colts. There were plenty of emotions with the return of Chuck Pagano to Baltimore and the quarterback prodigy of John Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, who groomed Luck at Stanford as head coach of the Cardinal, before Indianapolis and owner Jim Irsay made him the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in April 2012 after jettisoning Manning, who wound up in Denver.

Pagano had successfully battled leukemia over the previous three months, and the #Chuckstrong campaign in social media was as solid as the Colts had been on the field in his absence. During his absence, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians stabilized a youthful team around Luck. Indianapolis was the surprise team in the AFC with an 11-5 record, including 9-2 down the stretch. They had played a last-place schedule all year, but had been impressive throughout the year and brought a wave of emotion with them from the friendly heart of the Midwest as Pagano’s health and strength was a rallying point for them all season.

Pagano had believed it a cruel, strange twist of fate that he even got the Colts head coaching job the previous January. As the Ravens went down the field on the final Lee Evans-Billy Cundiff drive in Foxborough, Pagano was thinking that he was finally going to the Super Bowl.

“If we win that AFC Championship Game that would’ve put me two weeks further out and no coach can have any discussion about a job,” Pagano said. “I would venture to say that Indy would’ve had to get their guy in place and they had already interviewed with a bunch of guys. I don’t think that it would’ve happened for me with the Colts. I know there were more qualified candidates than me, guys they had talked to in the process.”

Instead, the Ravens suffered the agonizing defeat and Pagano got the Indy job the next day. “It’s crazy how fate and destiny works,” he said. “I thought I’d be going to Indy that week. I just had no idea it’d be to be coaching the Colts. I thought I’d be coaching the Ravens defense in the Super Bowl.”

Now, a cancer survivor in remission with thin strands of gray hair returning to his previously bald head, Pagano was back in Baltimore on the sidelines as the head coach of an NFL playoff team almost 12 months later. He was coming back to Baltimore in an attempt to end

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McClain, former Raven Redding among Ed Block Courage Award winners

Posted on 07 January 2014 by WNST Staff

ED BLOCK COURAGE AWARD FOUNDATION UNVEILS 2013 COURAGE AWARD RECIPIENTS

January 7TH, 2014 – Baltimore, Md. – The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation held a press conference to announce the 2013 class of Ed Block Courage Award winners. The press conference was held on Tuesday January 7th at 12 noon at the Sheraton Center City Hotel, 101 W. Fayette Street in downtown Baltimore. This year there were 16 offensive recipients and 16 defensive recipients. The Class includes Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin IIITampa Bay Buccaneers CB Darrelle RevisNew Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston and Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White. The Baltimore Ravens selected LB Jameel McClain as their 2013 recipient. The complete list of recipients is below. This year’s PFATS Athletic Training Staff of the year is from the Houston Texans. Congratulations to Geoff Kaplan, A.J. Van Valkenburgh, Roland Ramirez and the rest of the Texans staff.

The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation is an NFL-supported charity dedicated to recognizing courage in the League while improving the lives of abused/neglected children in NFL cities throughout the country. The Foundation annually bestows a prestigious Ed Block Courage Award to a player from each NFL team who, in the eyes of his teammates, exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage.

The Ed Block Courage Award Foundation is committed to establishing a Courage House in every NFL city. On March 17th, 2013 the Foundation will celebrate 36 years of recognizing courage in the NFL, while improving the lives of abused children and families at risk in NFL cities throughout the country. To purchase tickets for the 36th annual Ed Block Courage Awards visit missiontix.com. For more information, please contact Paul Mittermeier at 410-821-6252 or via email at Paulm@edblock.org.

 

AFC

 

Baltimore Ravens Jameel McClain

ILB

Buffalo Bills Arthur Moats

LB

Cincinnati Bengals Robert Geathers

DE

Cleveland Browns T.J. Ward

DB

Denver Broncos Knowshon Moreno

RB

Houston Texans Brian Cushing

ILB

Indianapolis Colts Cory Redding

DE

Jacksonville Jaguars Will Rackley

G/C

Kansas City Chiefs Rodney Hudson

C

Miami Dolphins Paul Soliai

DT

N.E. Patriots Sebastian Vollmer

T

New York Jets Isaiah Trufant

CB

Oakland Raiders Khalif Barnes

T

Pittsburgh Steelers Heath Miller

TE

San Diego Chargers Vincent Brown

WR

Tennessee Titans David Stewart

T

   

NFC

 

Arizona Cardinals Rashad Johnson

S

Atlanta Falcons Roddy White

WR

Carolina Panthers Ryan Kalil

C

Chicago Bears Patrick Mannelly

LS

Dallas Cowboys Barry Church

S

Detroit Lions Nate Burleson

WR

Green Bay Packers Johnny Jolly

DT

Minnesota Vikings Kevin Williams

DT

New Orleans Saints Marques Colston

WR

New York Giants Terrell Thomas

CB

Philadelphia Eagles Jason Kelce

C

Seattle Seahawks Chris Clemons

DE

St. Louis Rams Lance Kendricks

TE

San Francisco 49ers Jonathan Goodwin

C

T.B. Buccaneers Darrelle Revis

CB

Wash. Redskins Robert Griffin III

QB

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Former Ravens defensive tackle Brandon McKinney latest to bolt for Indianapolis

Posted on 05 April 2012 by Luke Jones

Reserve defensive tackle Brandon McKinney became the latest defensive player to leave the Ravens and join the Indianapolis Colts.

After spending the last four seasons in Baltimore, McKinney has agreed to a two-year deal to reunite with former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. McKinney is the third former Raven to join Pagano this offseason, joining defensive end Cory Redding and safety Tom Zbikowski as the Colts switch to a 3-4 defensive scheme.

The 28-year-old McKinney collected 37 tackles in 41 games with the Ravens. He made four starts in 2010 and was a regular contributor in the defensive line rotation.

There was no apparent push by the Ravens to attempt to re-sign the unrestricted free agent as they likely will try to get younger — and cheaper — at the position.

 

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Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones eager to be “next man up”

Posted on 02 April 2012 by Luke Jones

With former starting defensive end Cory Redding leaving via free agency and the Ravens with limited salary cap room this offseason, third-year defensive lineman Arthur Jones could see the opportunity staring him squarely in the face.

Unlike the departures of starters Ben Grubbs and Jarret Johnson, who have left question marks at their respective spots, the Ravens feel confident in the combination of Jones and second-year pass rusher Pernell McPhee to replace Redding’s production at the defensive end position. Both will need to contribute more in 2012, but Jones is looking to seize the job after limited opportunities in his first two seasons.

Active in just two games in his rookie year, Jones played in 14 games last season and made his first NFL start filling in for an injured Redding in the Ravens’ Week 16 win over Cleveland. The former first-team all-Big East selection is ready to see the fruits of the work he’s put in over the last two years with defensive line coach Clarence Brooks.

“I know it’s not going to be easy getting the job and what not,” Jones said in an interview with AM 1570 WNST last week. “Pernell McPhee is a great player — don’t take anything away from him. He’s a hard worker, but I’m going to do everything to tell the coaches that I’m ready. I’m the next man up.”

Selected in the fifth round in consecutive years, Jones and McPhee bring different skill sets to the field. The 25-year-old Jones has a 30-pound weight advantage and is stronger in stopping the run, whereas McPhee has stronger hands and is better in pressuring the quarterback as he demonstrated by collecting six sacks in his rookie season.

If looking strictly at the Ravens’ 3-4 base system, Jones would be the more conventional choice to start, but the Baltimore defense is known for using multiple looks, which will lead to opportunities for both players. Jones will likely see more reps on first and second down, with McPhee spelling him on third down and obvious passing situations.

“They are both looking forward to competing for that spot,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They have flexibility, too. Art can go inside, and Pernell can go outside.”

Jones admits he still has plenty of work to do this offseason, wanting to improve his technique and recognition in playing the zone. The former Syracuse product believes the benefit of a full offseason program in Owings Mills will allow him to take the next step in becoming a starter.

While the Ravens are confident in replacing Redding’s modest production on the field (7 1/2 sacks in two seasons), the veteran leadership he provided was a major asset to the younger defensive linemen on the team. Much like former nose tackle Kelly Gregg was instrumental in Jones’ development at defensive tackle during his rookie season, the young defensive end credits Redding in teaching him what it means to be a professional.

“He was more than just a football player on a team,” Jones said of his former teammate. “He was kind of like my mentor, like a big brother. I don’t have an older brother; I’m the oldest one in the family. I really consider him an older brother, and he helped me out so much with everything.”

Ironically, Jones could have the opportunity to fulfill the big brother role on this year’s team — literally. Jones’ younger brother Chandler is a rising draft prospect from Syracuse projected to go as early as the end of the first round or early in the second. Two inches taller and nearly 50 pounds lighter, the younger Jones has the pass-rushing ability the Ravens are potentially looking to add coming off the edge.

Jones is used to being a proud big brother, having watched his brother Jon become the UFC light heavyweight champion. He’s now training with Chandler to realize his own NFL dream, and the thought of teaming up again like they did as members of the Orange would be a dream scenario for the brothers.

“It would definitely be really neat for him,” Jones said. “We played together in college, and it was an awesome time. There’s nothing like making tackles, hitting the guy at the same time, smashing the guy with your brother. There’s really no greater feeling.”

Whether his younger brother winds up in Baltimore or not, Jones cannot help but feel good about the offseason and the potential role lying before him as the Ravens begin offseason workouts later this month.

Though he remains an unproven commodity with only 20 career tackles, the 313-pound Jones can’t wait to show what he can do on a consistent basis.

And the Ravens appear confident he can do the job.

“I’m so excited for this opportunity, more motivated than ever,” Jones said. “It’s just a beautiful thing to be in the position that I am right now. I’m just enjoying life and working my butt off.”

Listen to Arthur Jones’ entire conversation with WNST.net’s Glenn Clark right HERE.

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Plenty of work remains, but Friday’s activity a modest step forward for Ravens

Posted on 23 March 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The first 10 days of free agency had been anything but smooth for the Ravens, even if it was expected by anyone paying attention.

With limited salary cap room and 12 unrestricted free agents becoming available, coach John Harbaugh knew there would be difficult decisions to make, including waving goodbye to veterans Ben Grubbs, Jarret Johnson, Corey Redding, Haruki Nakamura, and Tom Zbikowski. Even when the Ravens targeted a potential outsider to help fill one of those voids — such as their flirtation with Eagles guard Evan Mathis — they found themselves without sufficient funds to close the deal.

Other than the re-signing of veteran center Matt Birk last week, the lack of activity was causing some restless nights among the fan base. But with the second week of free agency nearing its conclusion, this is typically when general manager Ozzie Newsome begins hunting for the best value.

Newsome and the Ravens apparently found it on Friday, re-signing linebackers Jameel McClain and Brendon Ayanbadejo and inking former Bears cornerback Corey Graham and veteran safety Sean Considine to contracts.

“[Waiting] probably wasn’t as hard for me as it was for the fans, because I had a little bit more of a front seat into what we were doing and those conversations are happening every day,” Harbaugh said. “We were involved with guys all the time, but we had our limits as to what we were going to be able to pay certain players.”

While none of the four moves should be labeled as significant splashes, the retaining of McClain allows the Ravens to cross off inside linebacker as one of their most pressing needs this offseason. Though not an elite player, McClain acquitted himself nicely in the absence of fellow inside linebacker Ray Lewis for four games last season.

The 26-year-old repeatedly stated his preference to remain with the organization that took a chance on him as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2008, but many expected McClain to find a new home somewhere else once he hit the open market on March 13.

“There’s always that possibility, because this game is unpredictable,” McClain said. “We never know what’s going to happen at the end of the day. But in the back of my heart, I always knew that Baltimore was home.”

With a deep group of available inside linebackers and a slow pace to the market, McClain’s only visit came with the Denver Broncos, who eventually re-signed inside linebacker Joe Mays. Those circumstances led to increased optimism that the Ravens would be able to keep McClain in Baltimore, which became reality on Friday afternoon.

“I probably wasn’t real confident early on because we just know what kind of a player he is,” Harbaugh said. “I think you guys have seen him. Our fans know how good of a player he is. For whatever reason, the inside backer market just didn’t really go crazy.”

McClain represents a rock-solid starting option next to Lewis and quells concerns at the position, but the Ravens will still look to address the inside linebacker position in April’s draft with an eventual replacement for Lewis in mind. Pass coverage still remains an issue, but the re-signing of Ayanbadejo does give the Ravens another option in the nickel package.

Friday also represented an encouraging day for the Ravens’ special teams with two Pro Bowl selections secured for a unit that finished 30th in the NFL in 2011, according to FootballOutsiders.com. The returning Ayanbadejo as well as Graham and Considine will try to help the Ravens improve on their 31st-ranked kickoff coverage and 24th-ranked punt coverage last season.

Of the three signings, Graham represents the most intriguing upside. Regarded as one of the best gunners in the league, he will start on all special teams units and be a focal point for which other teams will have to game-plan. Though clearly behind Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams, and Jimmy Smith, Graham does have secondary experience in addition to his special teams prowess.

“He’s kind of a guy like me who you’re going to have to scheme against him and double-team him and come up with ways to stop him,” Ayanabadejo said about his former Chicago teammate. “And anytime you double-team one guy, that’s going to leave someone else open.”

While Friday can be regarded as a modest sigh of relief for the Ravens and their fans, plenty of holes remain with the draft nearly a month away. Identifying starting replacements for Grubbs at left guard and Johnson at outside linebacker are still the top priorities. After that, the Ravens will look to address the third receiver spot as well as to try to find a viable return specialist.

The four signings eat away most of the near-$5 million in cap room the Ravens held entering the day, meaning they will likely need to sit tight until the draft and reassess the roster and the open market after selections have been made.

Yes, Friday represented a satisfying move in the right direction, but it will likely put the Ravens back in the familiar position of waiting.

With plenty of work still to do between now and the start of the season.

Hear interviews with John Harbaugh, Jameel McClain, and Corey Graham in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

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After rocky first week of free agency, what’s next for Ravens?

Posted on 19 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Nearly a week into the signing period and with Peyton Manning finally choosing his next football home — ending our long-suffering national nightmare — it’s safe to say we’ve reached the conclusion of the first wave of NFL free agency.

As expected, it’s been anything but an exhilarating splash for the Ravens as they’ve witnessed five unrestricted free agents depart while only re-signing veteran center Matt Birk to a three-year contract on Friday. Baltimore has six remaining unrestricted free agents to potentially address, with inside linebacker Jameel McClain at the top of the list.

Unlike veteran defensive starters Jarret Johnson and Cory Redding, McClain represents a more difficult decision as he’ll only turn 27 in July and has plenty of good football in front of him.  He also represents a known commodity at a position where the Ravens lack depth behind Ray Lewis. Though he doesn’t bring the skills in pass coverage the Ravens would like to see improved among their linebackers, McClain proved valuable when Lewis was sidelined with a toe injury for four games last season, leading the huddle while Baltimore barely missed a beat without its future Hall of Fame linebacker.

The problem is general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens are having a difficult time gauging McClain’s value with the market for inside linebackers developing at a snail’s pace so far in free agency. Most top names at the position remain unsigned, including Detroit’s Stephen Tulloch, Seattle’s David Hawthorne, and Atlanta’s Curtis Lofton.

McClain visited the Broncos on Friday and took a physical, but Denver ultimately decided to re-sign Joe Mays, who will presumably be the guy at middle linebacker after making 12 starts last season. With such a deep group of inside backers still available and most having the same limitations in pass coverage beyond the top names on the list, McClain may not find the payday he’s looking for.

Of course, the Ravens have a limited amount of salary cap space and a number of other positions to address. They also placed a second-round tender on restricted free agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, which would pay him roughly $1.92 million in 2012, as a likely insurance policy to losing McClain.

Whether they can ultimately re-sign McClain or not, the Ravens are likely to address the inside linebacker position in the first few rounds of April’s draft. And unless the market remains very cool on McClain, Baltimore will likely roll the dice with the combination of Ellerbe and a drafted rookie to fill the void next to Lewis in defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ 3-4 scheme.

Changing of the guard

With the Ravens missing out on free-agent guard Evan Mathis when the veteran elected to re-sign with the Eagles over the weekend, the remaining options on the open market are underwhelming in trying to replace former Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs.

A few veterans such as Jake Scott and Vernon Carey are still out there but represent a noticeable step back from Grubbs at the position. That’s led many to speculate about the possibility of second-year tackle Jah Reid being moved to guard.

The thought of Reid playing guard has intrigued me since he began working there late last season and was a sleeper candidate to replace the injured Marshal Yanda in the regular-season finale against Cincinnati. You typically don’t see 6-foot-7 guards, but having the tallest starting quarterback in the league eliminates the need for shorter interior linemen.

Evan so, it’s difficult to view Reid as anything more than a project for the position, meaning the Ravens’ best bet might be to select a guard in the first or second round of the draft. While many have cooled on the idea of drafting Wisconsin center Peter Konz in the first round after Birk’s re-signing, another intriguing name that might be available at the 29th pick is Georgia guard Cordy Glenn.

With massive size at 345 pounds and impressive athleticism, Glenn has seen his stock rise substantially since the Senior Bowl. Despite playing left tackle as a senior after playing inside prior to that, Glenn is considered to be best suited for guard by most. However, some still flirt with the idea of him eventually becoming a left tackle at the next level.

It’s far from certain that Glenn will be there when the Ravens pick late in the first round, but he would be the ideal candidate to start at left guard compared to the underwhelming veteran options remaining in free agency. And with veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie entering the final year of his contract, the Ravens could also evaluate whether Glenn could move to left tackle in his second season.

Third wideout

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Former Ravens defensive end Redding heading to Indianapolis

Posted on 14 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Less than 24 hours after the start of free agency, the Ravens have suffered their first casualty as defensive end Cory Redding is joining the Indianapolis Colts.

Joining former Baltimore defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, Redding has agreed to a three-year, $10.5 million contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 31-year-old defensive lineman was reportedly in negotiations with Indianapolis after taking a visit on Tuesday night and will be a good fit as Indianapolis transitions to Pagano’s 3-4 scheme.

Of the Ravens’ three defensive starters who were unrestricted free agents, Redding was considered to be the most replaceable with third-year defensive lineman Arthur Jones expected to step into the starting lineup on first and second down. In passing situations, linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive end Pernell McPhee will continue their roles as pass-rushing specialists.

Signed to a two-year, $6 million contract in 2010, Redding registered 7 1/2 sacks and 85 tackles in 30 games with Baltimore.

The Ravens will miss the 31-year-old’s leadership in the locker room, but with limited cap space and a viable replacement already on the roster, his departure is not exactly surprising.

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Ravens free agents Grubbs, Redding taking visits elsewhere

Posted on 13 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Two Ravens free agents have already scheduled visits with other teams after failing to come to terms on new contracts prior to hitting the open market on Tuesday afternoon.

Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs has scheduled a Wednesday visit with the New Orleans Saints, according to multiple reports. With Saints guard Carl Nicks the top interior lineman on the open market and rumored to be heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Grubbs would be a suitable — and more affordable — replacement on the New Orleans offensive line.

Veteran defensive end Cory Redding was on his way to visit Chuck Pagano and the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday evening, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. With Pagano targeting free agents from the defense he worked with as the Baltimore defensive coordinator in 2011, Redding would provide strong veteran leadership as well as a more affordable price than linebacker Jarret Johnson, who has also been rumored as a potential target for Indianapolis.

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With free agency upon us, Ravens will lean on continued growth from within in 2012

Posted on 12 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With the start of the new league year and free agency less than 24 hours away, you can already hear the cries if you listen carefully.

And you know exactly what I’m talking about if you pay attention to talk radio, internet message boards, and Twitter over the opening days of free agency every year.

When are the Ravens going to do something?

Why does Ozzie insist on sitting on his hands?

They’re definitely taking a step back this season.

Never were those exclamations louder than last season, an unprecedented period of free agency that coincided with the start of training camp after the 134-day lockout. General manager Ozzie Newsome waved goodbye to veterans Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Kelly Gregg, and Willis McGahee in a series of cap-saving cuts, and a number of veterans including Chris Chester, Dawan Landry, and Josh Wilson found richer contracts elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Ravens’ free-agent additions for 2011 were relatively modest over the course of the preseason, adding fullback Vonta Leach, safety Bernard Pollard, left tackle Bryant McKinnie, center Andre Gurode, and running back Ricky Williams in addition to re-signing right guard Marshal Yanda to a long-term contract. The “offseason” timetable was stunted by the lockout, but Newsome operated in the way he typically does — calculated and conservative. In fact, the most dynamic move he made — trading a fourth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for veteran receiver Lee Evans — turned out to be the biggest failure.

The history lesson is worth repeating as the Ravens embark on free agency for the 17th time in franchise history. Projected to have approximately $14.45 million in salary cap space (before tendering restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents), Newsome will devote much of that to retaining as many of his own free agents as he can.

Of Baltimore’s 12 unrestricted free agents, five were starters last season, meaning the Ravens could be looking at more significant roster turnover than you’d like from an AFC North championship team that was one touchdown catch from advancing to the Super Bowl.

Expecting a dramatic splash of throwing money at elite free agents such as wide receiver Vincent Jackson or outside linebacker Mario Williams is only setting yourself up for disappointment. Even in the years in which he’s had the most cap room, Newsome rarely targets the players grabbing the headlines in the opening days of free agency, instead focusing on keeping his own and laying plans for value free agents that fulfill a need without eating up precious cap room.

As was the case last season, the Ravens will look for continued growth from within to aid in their quest for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Entering the 2011 season, Terrence Cody, Ed Dickson, and Dennis Pitta were well-known draft picks from the previous season but had yet to emerge as starting-caliber players in the NFL. Even bigger question marks surrounded Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams before they became legitimate starting cornerbacks for one of the league’s top defenses. And fighting serious doubts after a poor preseason, wide receiver Torrey Smith set franchise rookie records for receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches.

Their contributions were as critical as any free-agent acquisition the Ravens made en route to a 12-4 record and their first division title in five years.

This season, the Ravens will potentially look to younger players such as defensive ends Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee, offensive lineman Jah Reid, and linebackers Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, and Albert McClellan to help fill potential voids left behind by free agents Cory Redding, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Jarret Johnson, and Jameel McClain. Of course, the Ravens will add new pieces via free agency and next month’s draft to fill some of those needs, but it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll need to lean on some combination of the aforementioned players for expanded roles in 2012.

After tendering their restricted free agents and exclusive rights players, the Ravens will be left with somewhere between $6 million and $7 million to address their own unrestricted free agents and shop the open market. It doesn’t take an economics major to realize that money will only go so far.

But, as he usually does, Newsome will make the most of it.

As the frenzy of free agency begins on Tuesday and the big names start coming off the board — possibly even a few from the Ravens’ own backyard leaving for greener pastures — remember many of the biggest factors determining how the Ravens fare in 2012 already reside in Owings Mills.

It may get ugly, with many of their unrestricted free agents not expected to return, but Newsome and the Ravens never strive to “win” the first week of free agency. They’ll look closely for that under-the-radar talent that nobody is talking about right now. And, as always, the Ravens will plan to shine during April’s draft.

By the time July arrives, they’ll address the offensive line and the linebacker position in some form as well as add a few pieces in other areas to optimize a team that was only a few tenths of a second away from going to the Super Bowl back in January.

Just remember that when you or someone else feels the urge to panic and ask if Newsome is asleep at the wheel over the next week or so.

To borrow an expression from another era and another sport here in Baltimore, it’s “The Raven Way” of doing business.

And if history is any indication, it’s worked pretty well.

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Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals

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Stay or leave: Forecasting the fate of Ravens’ free agents

Posted on 08 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With free agency set to begin on Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m., it’s time to predict who remains and who departs among the Ravens’ 12 unrestricted free agents, four restricted free agents, and seven exclusive rights free agents.

As of Thursday afternoon, the 2012 salary cap had yet to be set, but most reports indicate it will remain right around the $120 million used for the 2011 season. The Ravens are projected to have somewhere between $11 and $12 million in cap space, depending on what the final cap number will be.

Franchise tag

RB Ray Rice: STAYS
Skinny: The Ravens have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement with Rice or he will play for the $7.7 million salary mandated by the franchise tag for running backs.

Unrestricted free agents

G Ben Grubbs: LEAVES
Skinny: General manager Ozzie Newsome expressed optimism at the NFL Combine, but the Ravens won’t engage in a bidding war when Grubbs hits the open market. 

C Matt Birk: STAYS
Skinny: The Ravens will meet with Birk’s agent Joe Linta next week and could sign the veteran to a cap-friendly, short-term deal to finish his career in Baltimore. 

LB Jarret Johnson: LEAVES
Skinny: Despite little depth at outside linebacker, the Ravens appear ready to move on and won’t be able to afford Johnson in a thin market for linebackers. 

LB Jameel McClain: LEAVES
Skinny: Assuming the Ravens do not strike a deal for Grubbs, some of that money could be allocated to retain McClain, but other teams historically throw too much money at Baltimore linebackers in the open market. 

DE Cory Redding: STAYS
Skinny: Though third-year defensive lineman Arthur Jones could step into the starting lineup, Redding might have more value to the Ravens than other potential suitors at this stage in his career. 

LB Brendon Ayanbadejo: STAYS
Skinny: With the lack of depth at inside linebacker and Ayanbadejo’s ability in pass coverage, the Ravens will hold onto the 35-year-old at a lower rate than the four-year contract he signed with the team in 2008. 

S Tom Zbikowski: LEAVES
Skinny: After four years serving primarily as a backup, the former Notre Dame product is looking for an opportunity to start elsewhere and doesn’t bring enough to the table as a special teams player to warrant overpaying. 

S Haruki Nakamura: STAYS
Skinny: In the same position as Zbikowski, Nakamura’s versatility as a defensive back as well as his special teams prowess will force the Ravens to pony up a little extra to keep him in Baltimore. 

OL Andre Gurode: LEAVES
Skinny: With the Ravens looking to select an interior lineman or two in April’s draft, the five-time Pro Bowl center will continue his career elsewhere. 

DT Brandon McKinney: STAYS
Skinny: A solid member of the defensive line rotation, McKinney won’t figure to draw a ton of interest on the open market, and the Ravens want to maintain their depth up front. 

TE Kris Wilson: LEAVES
Skinny: Adding a veteran tight end was a shrewd move after Todd Heap’s release last season, but Wilson’s spot will be assumed by a younger, cheaper option. 

LB Edgar Jones: LEAVES
Skinny: Injuries opened the door for Jones’ return last season, but he wouldn’t figure to fit into the team’s plans for the 2012 season. 

Restricted free agents

(The Ravens can offer a first-round, second-round, or low tender to any of these players, giving them the right to match any offer 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.)

CB Lardarius Webb: STAYS
Skinny: Webb will receive the first-round tender worth roughly $2.75 million as the Ravens will explore a long-term agreement with the fourth-year cornerback. 

CB Cary Williams: STAYS
Skinny: A report indicated the Ravens will offer Williams a first-round tender, but the second-round designation (an estimated $1.9 million) saves money and would still deter teams from trying to pry away the biggest surprise of the 2011 season.

LB Dannell Ellerbe: STAYS
Skinny: The Ravens could roll the dice and offer the low tender ($1.25 million) to the inconsistent linebacker, but that would mean they wouldn’t receive a pick (Ellerbe was an undrafted free agent) if they declined to match a potential offer sheet.

RB Matt Lawrence: LEAVES
Skinny: Even with little depth at running back behind Ray Rice, there’s no way to justify even offering the low tender to the oft-injured running back entering his fourth season.

Exclusive rights free agents

(These are players with two or fewer accrued seasons and own no negotiating rights.)

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