With much success comes expectations.
The Ravens have 17 total free agents, four of which I believe must be re-signed (Rice, Grubbs, Webb and Williams). They have worked for so long to galvanize their offensive line and their defensive backfield, meaning signing Grubbs, Webb and Williams are bigs priorities.
Of course Ray Rice is the priority, but he will probably be franchised.
In the interest of being thorough, here are all of the Ravens' restricted and unrestricted free agents, and what their value should be on the upcoming free-agent market.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Brendon Ayanbadejo: $1.25 million (estimated)
Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting the Saints have signed guard Ben Grubbs to a five-year deal reportedly worth $63 million.
Andre Gurode: $3.25 million (estimated)
Kind of like Ayanbadejo, Gurode has proven versatility and multiple Pro Bowls to his name.
Including the postseason, Gurode played in 16 of the Ravens' 19 games last season. He'll turn 33 on March 6, and still looks to have a solid three or four years left.
If the Ravens don't want to spend the money on Grubbs, signing Gurode could be a really nice option until they get a potential draft pick up to speed.
Jarret Johnson: $4.5 million (estimated)
From 2007-11, Johnson started every regular season game for the Ravens. In that time, he recorded (on average) 59 combined tackles, three sacks and three pass deflections per season.
He's played a lot of tough football over the years, in college at Alabama and in the NFL with the Ravens. His last contract paid him an average of $4.34 million per year, and I think he's earned at least that amount for his next contract.
Edgar Jones: $330,000 (estimated)
Although sparingly used as a tight end, Jones has spent most of his time in the NFL as a defensive end. Still, he's played in only 41 games over five seasons, totaling 22 tackles.
I doubt the Ravens have him in their long-term plans.
Jameel McClain: $3.4 million (estimated)
His 155 tackles over the last two seasons shows you Jameel McClain is entering his prime.
His progression has been trending upward over his four NFL seasons, as he's added at least 13 tackles each year to his prior year's total.
Not only that, but watching the Ravens, you can see his swagger and appetite to, one day, lead this Ravens defense and help it continue to be the best in the NFL.
March 23, 2012: Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the Ravens have re-signed LB Jameel McClain.
Brandon McKinney: $1 million (estimated)
McKinney played well for Baltimore in 2011, filling in along the interior of the defensive line. He's not been asked to play a high volume of snaps, so he doesn't have much leverage to ask for more than the $1.2 million he's been averaging over the last three years.
Haruki Nakamura: $1.5 million (estimated)
Whether it's free safety, dime back, punt returner or special teamer, Nakamura is another one of those players who will do whatever you ask of him, as long as he gets to hit somebody. Unfortunately, he only had 12 tackles in 15 games last year.
So teams may like what they see on tape, but may also be hesitant to offer him a lot of money.
Cory Redding: $3 million (estimated)
Redding has recorded 85 tackles and 7.5 sacks in his two seasons in Baltimore. He's certainly worth starters money, and has proven he belongs among the starters on the Ravens' defense, which is saying a lot.
The downside for Ravens' fans is that new head coach of the Colts, Chuck Pagano, may look to sign Redding. Obviously, the Colts have two outstanding defensive ends in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
However, Pagano runs a 3-4 defense, and either Mathis or Freeney will have to become an outside linebacker, as they are not near the typical size of a standard 3-4 defensive end. Redding could fill that spot well.
Ray Rice: Update: According to the Ravens website, the team has given running back Ray Rice the franchise tag. He is expected to make about $7.7 million next season according to the report.
Kris Wilson: $500,000 (estimated)
He had a key touchdown in the Ravens' playoff win over the Houston Texans, but that was his first reception all year. Wilson was mostly a blocker in "heavy" or goal line situations.
I'm not saying he's not valuable. However, the market for a player like Wilson isn't a big one.
His most productive year was 2007 with the Chiefs, in which he caught 24 passes for 180 yards and one touchdown. He'll be 31 by the time the 2012 regular season starts, and I don't think teams will ask him to try to duplicate those numbers.
Tom Zbikowski: $2 million (estimated)
He's returned kicks and filled in at multiple positions on defense. Like Nakamura, Zbikowski is aggressive and diverse in his talents, but hasn't been proven to handle the workload of a starter on a consistent basis.
One plus is that even for NFL players, Zbikowski is a special athlete. During the lockout last offseason, he put the NFL world on notice as he advanced his professional boxing record to 3-0 on March 26, 2011.
Obviously boxing skills don't directly correlate to football skills, but being successful in that arena figures to improve his free agency stock.
Restricted Free Agents
There are three types of tenders a team can offer their restricted free agents (approximate values according to the NFL and the NFLPA's new collective bargaining agreement):
- $2.72 million tender, the right of first refusal and a first-round selection
- $1.927 million tender, the right of first refusal and a second-round selection
- $1.26 million tender, the right of first refusal and a draft pick corresponding to the round which the player was drafted in (i.e. if the player was selected in the third round, the pursuing team must offer a third-round pick in exchange).
Any team matching or holding on to the qualifying offer must pay that number as the player's base salary for that season.
Dannell Ellerbe: One-year, $1.26 million (undrafted, estimated)
Ellerbe was exposed in pass coverage when the Ravens played the Patriots in the AFC Championship game on January 22. Whether it's been injuries or a run-in with the head coach, Ellerbe hasn't gotten going in his NFL career.
Matt Lawrence: No contract offered (estimated)
Lawrence has four career rushes in eight career games (all in 2009 with Baltimore).
I can't imagine the Ravens offer him a contract.
Lardarius Webb: Update: Jason La Canfora of NFL.com is reporting via his Twitter that the Ravens have given a first round tender to cornerback Ladarius Webb.
Cary Williams: Update: Jason La Canfora of NFL.com is reporting via his Twitter that the Ravens have given a second round tender to cornerback Cary Williams.