If you're a Ravens fan, you're probably trying to determine the direction of the Ravens offseason. You'd probably have better luck trying to determine which way the wind is blowing in a hurricane.
However, it's critical to understand there is a plan. There is always a plan and nothing works unless it is planned. The Ravens have continued to maintain success by not deviating from the strategy and also by not getting emotional.
"It's just business, it's not personal."
The challenge is to determine the best course of action in a climate where income may falter and teams are increasingly being saddled with bad contracts for years into the future.
A team must react to not just this season but the upcoming years. A few bad contracts can haunt a team's future.
Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens front office have a strategy, we're just not privy to it. Time and time again, this organization has made the correct move instead of going with the emotional selection. I point to the drafting of Terrell Suggs over the need for a quarterback.
If you remember the draft of 2003, the Ravens were expected to make a push for a franchise quarterback and it was believed they would select that QB with their first round pick.
However, when Suggs fell to the Ravens at the 10th pick, they snapped him up immediately.
His value to the team has been established with the application of the franchise tag for a second year in a row. While Kyle Boller will languish in the free agent market this year, hoping to grab a backup role somewhere.
Ozzie Newsome's famous quote has been, "Draft the best available player on the board, and do not draft for need."
The Ravens will use the free agent market to fill some holes and allow potential bad contracts land in someone else's lap. The loss of Bart Scott hurts, but is not devastating.
The possible loss of Ray Lewis will also be painful, but the short term agony will be offset by the team not absorbing an enormous contract. Ray Lewis has value to this Ravens franchise. He has been the face and heart of the team for many years. He could be a great mentor for the linebacking corps, but there is a balance to that leadership.
The front office has to balance the long terms needs of the organization over the short term gain of keeping everyone in Baltimore.
There is also not an immediate need to make a move since the draft provides the opportunity to fill some positions for this year and the future. The Ravens have weak areas and a strong rookie class could provide the depth to push them back to the playoffs.
There should not be the expectation of an immediate impact of rookie playmakers. Rookies will add depth for the mid to late season grind that inevitably swallows a team. The Ravens will be able to view the draft as an opportunity to backfill many positions.
Depth at cornerback, offensive line, fullback, and tight end present the most immediate concerns.
In the end, a balanced belief in value through free agency and proper draft strategy will help guide the Baltimore Ravens into the 2009 season.
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