Written By: Christina Rivers
The Baltimore Ravens watched as the Cincinnati Bengals jumped to the top of the AFC North in 2013. Hungry for another playoff spot, the defending Super Bowl Champions weren’t able to reach far enough in the NFL to get back to the top. With free agency looming, the Ravens have some tough choices to make in order to meet their commitment to the 2014 NFL Salary Cap.
The Ravens had one of the most significant personnel transition – possibly the most any previous Super Bowl Champion has ever experienced – in 2013. The 2014 NFL Season looks to be even more daunting. The Ravens have 14 unrestricted free agents and two restricted free agents.
Tight end Dennis Pita was one player that Baltimore didn’t want to lose. They offered him a new five-year deal worth close to $32 million. Despite a disappointing season due to a surgically repaired right hip in 2013, in the four games he played, Pitta caught 20 passes.
The Ravens let inside linebacker Jameel McLain and fullback Vonta Leach go, opening close to $5 million in salary cap space. Wide receiver Brandon Stokely has been rumored to desire retirement from the NFL. It is likely that due to Pita’s re-signing with Baltimore that 35-year-old tight end Dallas Clark will leave the team.
Ravens insiders believe that the organization will let running back Bernard Scott and nose tackle Terrence Cody shop themselves around in the market. Scott sat at the number three spot for the organization and didn’t provide the depth that the Ravens feel is necessary. Cody will likely have to wait and see as third-round pick (2013) Brandon Williams is expected to see increased play at the position.
Tight end Ed Dickson told reporters at the end of the 2013 season that he doesn’t expect to be with the Ravens in 2014. If Baltimore goes for a tight end in the draft, Dickson will most-likely be looking for an opportunity for a fresh start somewhere else.
Safety Jeromy Miles, cornerback Corey Graham and linebacker Daryl Smith are all expected to have restructured deals with Baltimore before the March 11 deadline. Miles was picked up on waivers and paid him a restricted tender of $1.3 million in 2013. While Miles isn’t considered a priority, the team may bring him back after March 11 to assist on special teams. Graham appears to be a priority as one of the top three cornerbacks with the organization. Coach John Harbaugh admitted that Graham may attract interest from other teams due to his play with the Ravens. The Ravens want to get Smith signed before March 11 after the organization cut Jameel McClain. It may be a short-term deal, but they need his veteran experience to aid Arthur Brown and Josh Bynes.
Newsome told the press that he believed that the Ravens would be active in the free agent market, as did Coach Harbaugh, so the next few days should be interesting in Baltimore.
Predicted to leave the team:
Safey James Ihedigbo – General Manager Ozzie Newsome is looking for more athletic safeties and is interested in moving Matt Elam to Ihedigbo’s position.
Offensive tackle Michael Oher – While Coach Harbaugh hasn’t ruled Oher out of the mix to bring back, but the Ravens appear to be more interested in bringing Eugene Monroe into the fold, and they can’t afford both players before the March 11 deadline.
Defensive tackle Arthur Jones – Ranked in the top 25 of free agents available, it is more likely that a team with more cap money will seek him out. Both the Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins and the New York Jets have already been reported to have shown interest.
Wide receiver Jacoby Jones – He made $4 million in 2013, but Jones is expected to only be used as a return guy on special teams. The Ravens are looking for key players in the regular package and Jones doesn’t seem to fit the current mindset of the organization moving forward.
Wide receiver Tandon Doss
Linebacker Albert McClellan
Exclusive Rights Free Agents:
Safety Omar Brown
Outside linebacker D.J. Bryant
Inside linebacker Josh Bynes
Outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton
Safety Anthony Levine
Safety Brynden Trawick
Christina Rivers has been a freelance journalist, writer and photographer for over 20 years with a vast range of personal experiences. Credentialed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, her work has been featured on Examiner.com as well as CBS Sports, CBS Sports Local, KDKA in Pittsburgh, ‘The Beam’ in Pittsburgh, If It Ain’t Steel, SteelBlitz Steelers blog, SteelersDepot and more. She has written over 10,000 individual pieces of work and continues to add photographs to her growing portfolio. You can follow Christina’s work here on SteelersGab, on Facebook, via Twitter @3Rivers_Writer and Google Plus.