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The Free Agent List – Who Stays? Who Goes?

Things are always changing in the NFL and now that the off-season has officially started for Baltimore we should start looking ahead to next season.

Let’s begin with the Free Agent list. I’ll also include my rather premature gut reactions on who remains a Raven and who is headed elsewhere.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:

LB Brendon Ayanbadejo
Age: 35; Seasons: 9
2011 Stats: 35 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections; 9 special teams tackles
-He’s been a key contributor on Special Teams over the years and he’s grown into a defensive role in coverage. I think the Ravens realized that keeping younger players in favor of Special Teams vets hurt the Unit which fell to 31st in the league in Kickoff coverage.

My guess: STAYS. He’s said that he’d like to return and I think he can be had at a reasonable price.

RB Ray Rice
Age: 25; Seasons: 4
2011 Stats: 16 starts, 291 rushes, 1,364 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns; 76 receptions, 704 yards, 3 touchdowns
-One of the premier offensive weapons in the league, Rice is the player Baltimore’s offense largely revolves around. The two-time Pro Bowler showed a knack for breaking longer runs this year.

My Guess: Are you kidding? STAYS. Find a way and if you can’t then a Franchise tag would acceptable to both player and organization for the time being.

LB Jarret Johnson
Age: 30; Seasons: 9
2011 Stats: 56 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 pass deflections
-Perhaps the team’s most underrated player, Johnson is a key figure in running the defense and stuffing the opponent’s rush.

My Guess: GOES. There is a lot to like about Johnson, his toughness, his durability, and his ability to “play like a Raven.” I just wonder if the Ravens can afford him and there are more pressing issues like Rice to consider before him. The team also has younger options behind him. I’d hate to see it but I think it will come to pass.

G Ben Grubbs
Age: 27; Seasons: 5
2011 Stats: 10 games played/started
-The 2007 first-round pick has been a consistent starter from nearly the get-go, and earned his first Pro Bowl trip this season despite missing six games to a toe injury.

My Guess: GOES. Can the Ravens afford to pay another Offensive Guard “big money” after they just inked Marshal Yanda at the start of the season? I don’t see it.

C Matt Birk
Age: 35; Seasons: 14
2011 Stats: 16 games plays/started
-Birk had a fine season in the middle, and was yet again an anchor on the line. He was also relatively injury free after having problems with his knees the year before.

My Guess: GOES. He may retire anyway. Would they decide to go with Andre Gurode who might be a younger and cheaper option?

C/G Andre Gurode
Age: 32, Seasons: 10
2011 Stats: 13 games played/5 started
-Played a valuable reserve role this season and filled in admirably for Ben Grubbs when he had to.

My Guess: STAYS. He could slide in to a possible vacant Center position. Is he still starter material in the NFL or is he best used as a backup?

LB Jameel McClain
Age: 26; Seasons: 4
2011 Stats: 16 starts, 84 tackles, 1 sack, 5 pass deflections, 1 interception
-In his second full season as a starter, the former undrafted free agent took on an even larger role when he stepped up for Ray Lewis, who went down with a toe injury.

My Guess: STAYS. This player is the perfect example of “Right player, Right price.” If some other team threw the bank at him (it’s happened several times with our former players) then the Ravens probably wouldn’t match.

S Tom Zbikowski
Age: 26; Seasons: 4
2011 Stats: 14 games, 4 starts, 23 starts, 1 sack, 7 special teams tackles
-A starter early in the season before Bernard Pollard took over full-time, Zbikowski has filled in well in his brief starting stints. Strong hitter who filled in on kick returns, Special teams, and various defensive packages.

My Guess: STAYS. I really like Zibby as a multi-purpose backup but I don’t think he’s a starter. For the right price he’ll stay in purple.

S Haruki Nakamura
Age: 25; Seasons: 4
2011 Stats: 15 games, 12 tackles, 2 pass deflections, 9 special teams tackles
The scrappy Nakamura has been a special teams ace since he came into the league. His versatility to play some nickel cornerback and safety has led to time on defense.

My Guess: STAYS. With Ed Reed’s status up in air at the end of every season you need some insurance. I’d love to see what Haruki could do as a full-time Free Safety if Reed chooses to walk away from the game.

DE Cory Redding
Age: 31; Seasons: 9
2011 Stats: 15 games, 11 starts, 43 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections
In his two years in Baltimore, Redding has become a leader on the defense. The veteran had perhaps his best season since 2006, when he had eight sacks for Detroit.

My Guess: STAYS. A excellent move by Ozzie plucking the talented vet from the depths of loserville. He seems to have fit in very well here.

TE Kris Wilson
Age: 30; Seasons: 8
2011 Stats: 15 games, 4 special teams tackles
-His time in the sun came on a touchdown reception against Houston in the playoffs, but for the most part Wilson was a positive influence on Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta and special-teams contributor.

My Guess: STAYS. If Dickson continues to drop passes go with Wilson and Pitta in double Tight End sets.

DT Brandon McKinney
Age: 28; Seasons: 6
2011 Stats: 12 games, 14 tackles, 1 forced fumble
-McKinney is a big-bodied run stuffer who played behind second-year nose tackle Terrence Cody.

My Guess: STAYS. Good depth move to keep McKinney.

LB Edgar Jones
Age: 27; Seasons: 5
2011 Stats: 3 special teams tackles
-Signed in early November to play special teams, Jones fit in well. Jones has spent parts of five years being a versatile tool for Baltimore, playing on both offense and defense.

My Guess: STAYS. Special Teams needs players who understand their role.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS:

For restricted free agents, the Ravens have the chance to offer them a tender, attached to a draft pick. If another team wants to sign them, Baltimore would first be able to match that offer. If it choses not to, the other team would have to forfeit the corresponding draft pick to the Ravens in order to sign the player.

LB Dannell Ellerbe, RB Matt Lawrence, CB Lardarius Webb, CB Cary Williams

My Guess: I’d expect all to stay.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS:

 

An exclusive-rights free agent has two or fewer years of experience and no negotiating rights. If the Ravens make them an offer, they must accept it or be released.

LS Morgan Cox, CB Danny Gorrer, LB Sergio Kindle, LB Albert McClellan

My Guess: They all stay though I’d love to know if Kindle will ever really be able to contribute on the field. especially as a Pass rusher. He’ll come at a low cost so why not wait and see.

These were just my initial takes on each player. Of course give your own comments at the bottom.


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9 Responses to “The Free Agent List – Who Stays? Who Goes?”

  1. Robert diamond says:

    This is what u hope for but realistic a lot of them that u believe are staying just are not affordable u forget we got to give joe a extension also this season that’s what oz and steve said aft the game in new England

    • It’s just a first gut feeling based on the cap and what I feel.

      I’m not forgetting that Flacco is on board for an extension next season but they will need to decide where he fits in money wise.

      As usual this roster will look very different in 2012.

  2. I think Joe is better than Fitzpatrick and media darling Matt Ryan.

    But Fitzpatrick signed an insane contract extension this past October – $59 million over 6 years?! $24 which is guaranteed. Does Flacco deserve that type of money?

    I’d put Rivers ahead of Joe but he also has a few years on him.

    I do agree that Flacco should stay I just don’t know how that looks on paper quite yet.

  3. Robert diamond says:

    You have 10 outta 13 free agents staying in a yr where we have 2 sign rice flacco webb & grubbs all who are top 15 at there positions really? ??

  4. Robert,

    As I said its just a preliminary list. I would adjust Zibby and say he’s gone, as well as Gurode. Let’s also not forget that Foxworth will not return which is 5.6 mill. savings too.

    Why not leave your own list next time?

  5. Robert diamond says:

    Brendon-gone older & had a down season on special teams will follow pagno 2 indy
    Rice-we all know him and joes contracts are top priorities
    J.j.-gone a team will throw a number. That he can’t turn down
    Grubbs-will stay with the foxworth money we saved he is currently our top lineman I would put him ahead of yanda bc we saw what happens when he’s not in the game
    Birk- retirement
    Gurode-stays he will most likely be our starting center
    McClain -stays right price
    Zibby- following pagno
    haruky-stays right price
    Redding -stays the definition of loyalty
    Kris Wilson -gone he’s a ok blocking tight end but we will find another exclusive &restricted all staying

  6. Not bad. But it’s really not that different from mine.

    Here’s another take from someone who’s opinion I value.
    http://www.ravens24x7.com/columns/The-Beat-with-Aaron-Wilson/Ravens-set-to-begin-roster-evaluation-decisions-2

    I also forgot that if Lee Evans doesn’t restructure he won’t be back either.

  7. […] Back in January I gave this list a pretty uninformed try. Most of my choices were filled with gut reactions and speculation. So I figured I’d give it another attempt. Now, I won’t say that my picks don’t still have an element of guesswork to them but we all know more now than we did two months ago in terms of this team. […]

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