McAlister is Only the Beginning

Things are really going to start to get interesting in Baltimore over the next few weeks as the team makes some important decisions about its future. With so many unrestricted free agents there will be some tough choices but in the last few days I think that the Ravens are starting to tip their hand a bit more about where they are headed.

1) Ravens release Chris McAlister

The time had come for the team and the 10 year, 3 time Pro-Bowl corner to part ways. Not so much for the publicized rub that he seems to have with new head coach John Harbaugh but, his health is a bigger issue that led him to the door as well as the 8 million saved due to his release.

With McAlister you have to judge the good with the bad. He has had a career in Baltimore of speaking his mind (Plexiglass and “Soft” Eddie George) and being a bit a locker room loner. He was also known for getting that costly penalty at just the wrong time. But, when he was good he was one of the best shut down, physical corners you could find in the league.

But his knees are a huge problem and if he returns next season he has mentioned privately that he may want to convert to Safety.

Add this to the possibility that Samari Rolle may also be gone. (It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest) and you have to find a new corner from somewhere be the draft or free agency. Fabian Washington proved he could cover but they need a physical corner to replace C-Mac.

2) Ray Lewis becomes a Free Agent

I know. I know. Over the weeks I said I couldn’t believe he would leave and that the team wouldn’t let him. The reality is that even a franchise tag may be too costly as it would be upwards of $11 million as opposed to about 8.

The team is going to let the market decide what Ray should be paid. The talk of the Cowboys and Jets is just that, talk. I think a lot of people want to find out just what other teams would be willing to pay a Linebacker who will be 34 heading into next season. I feel that regardless of the bravado and the rumor I don’t see other teams paying Lewis the figures he wants. But even if there was one out there that would meet his demands it would make little sense for the franchise to cripple themselves for years to come. The front office has shown that it’s too smart for that. So pay close attention to February 19th , which is when teams choose it’s franchise player. Which leads me to….

3) Ravens Franchise Terrell Suggs again

Ok yeah I just read the article too. But in sizing up all the options this also makes sense. They would pay Suggs about $10 million (a 120% upgrade from last season) with the idea that a long-term deal would be worked on. Suggs is really starting to come into his own and letting a player at age 26 walk at this point with his skill set would be foolish. Again we find out in 3 days

4) Jason Brown Goes, Bart Scott stays

Yeah I flip flop again. First they can’t franchise Brown because if they do he would cost about $ 8 million, only because Tackles clog up the highest paid player formula and there are no centers in that mix. I think Brown had a great year but word is that the staff was not happy with his performance against big lineman like Casey Hampton and Albert Haynesworth. You could easily see Chris Chester slide over to center with Marshall Yanda returning to Guard if Brown departs.

Scott of course is dependent on what happens with Suggs and Lewis. I figured he was the odd man out but Scott may be something else to force Lewis’ hand in contract negotiations. Scott can play Middle Linebacker if Lewis exits. Right now with the focus on the other two, no one is saying word one about the “Mad Backer”. Somehow in my gut I think he stays.

Those are just a few of the stories in what will be a really active couple of weeks. But as I’ve said it will become clearer by Friday.

So, what do you think? What should the Ravens do with Lewis, Suggs, Scott, and Brown???

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