Time Running Out to Retain Ravens Free Agents

Will Double J and J Mac return to anchor the linebacking corps in 2012?

Free agency is a week away, meaning that the Ravens have just seven days to work out contract extensions or apply tenders to their free-agent class.

It should be a busy time for the Ravens brass as they try to retain important pieces of their roster while managing the salary cap. First on the to-do list was running back and focus of the offensive attack Ray Rice and the Ravens took care of that last week by franchising him, which buys them some time to work out a contract extension.

Joe Flacco’s extension has gotten plenty of play over the past month too. Keep in mind though that Flacco’s contract does not expire until the 2013 season.  While they’d like to get an extension taken care of before his walk year begins there are other players to focus on as well.

Ben Grubbs, a former first round selection in 2007 should be next up and the Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said at the combine last week that they are offering him a “lot of money.” It looks like Grubbs will probably test the market, which to me means that Grubbs may have played his last game in Baltimore.

Center Matt Birk thought about retirement this off-season but his agent has said that he’d like to return to the Ravens. GM Ozzie Newsome did say at the end-of-season press conference that the Ravens will have a new center on the roster next season, likely signaling that Birk and another free agent lineman, Andre Gurode will not both be back.

On defense there are two key pieces in the linebacking corps that are up for contract renewal in Jarret Johnson and Jameel McClain.  Newsome told reporters at the combine that the Ravens would like to have both linebackers in Baltimore but I’ll be interested to see how they will do it. McClain, only 26 years old, had his best season as a pro last year and could get a fat contract from another team. Johnson is a dependable, underrated ballplayer who has already garnered interest from Rex Ryan’s Jets.

In addition to those three, other unrestricted free agents include linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo and Edgar Jones, defensive end Cory Redding, safeties Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski, defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and tight end Kris Wilson.

In terms of the restricted free agents, the Ravens have starting cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams.

The Ravens are likely to offer a tender to Williams, but Webb could be a different story.

Newsome left open the door to working out a contract extension with Webb, who earned some Pro Bowl consideration this season, rather than offering him a tender. If they can’t agree to the terms of a new contract before free agency opens next week, then the Ravens will likely offer a first-round tender to Webb, and then could continue to work out a contract extension before training camp if another team doesn’t make a move for him.

It should get very interesting over the next seven days.

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One Response to “Time Running Out to Retain Ravens Free Agents”

  1. […] next factor as we move towards the draft is free agency for teams. How things go in free agency will to some degree change the thinking for the Ravens […]

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