With Robert Mathis off the market, Mario Williams now stands alone as the most coveted pass rusher available. Who are we kidding? Williams already stood alone, with or without Mathis on the free-agent market.
It is not being talked about, but the Baltimore Ravens should do whatever they can to get Williams in Baltimore next year. Baltimore had an inconsistent pass rush last season, despite what its No. 3-ranked passing attack may signify to the casual observer. Terrell Suggs was the Ravens' one true pass rusher. If teams were successful in taking Suggs out of the game, opposing quarterbacks breathed a lot easier.
If Ozzie Newsome could find a way to bring Williams to Charm City, he would create arguably the best pass-rushing duo in football. Who would teams double-team, exactly? If Williams is held in check, then Suggs runs free and creates havoc. Should Suggs be double-teamed, then it is Williams's turn to visit the opposing offense's backfield. Meanwhile, teams still have to contend with Haloti Ngata up front.
An improved pass rush would make a solid defensive backfield that much better, and therefore, signing Williams could make for one of the most dominating Ravens defenses ever, which is saying a lot.
On the surface, it would appear that the Ravens have salary cap room after releasing veterans Chris Carr, Lee Evans and Dominique Foxworth. That, of course, is on the surface. Baltimore is in the midst of a contract negotiation with star running back Ray Rice, and it would also like to extend quarterback Joe Flacco. Williams will demand a contract of at least $15 million a year.
It would take some savvy to create enough cap space to sign them all, especially if Baltimore wants to keep guard Ben Grubbs. There are rumors saying that the Ravens have made Grubbs a lucrative contract offer. The past shows that Newsome does not often make the big splash in the free agent market. Last year is a good example.
In the 2011 offseason, according to most experts, the Ravens had major needs at cornerback. There were some big names available, which included Johnathan Joseph (now with the Texans) and the highly-coveted Nnamdi Asomugha (now with the Eagles).
Baltimore did not participate in the bidding wars, opted to keep what it had and added cornerback Jimmy Smith through the draft. This decision worked out well for Baltimore, which boasted a solid secondary thanks in large part to the emergence of corners Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb.
The Ravens will most likely go this route again. They could turn to Paul Kruger or Pernell McPhee to step up, assuming Jarret Johnson does not return. And that move could work out well. But if the Ravens signed Williams, Ravens fans could dream of seeing another Lombardi Trophy in Charm City. And quarterbacks could start having recurring nightmares.