Baltimore Ravens: Ranking Their Best Free Agent Options
With many of the Ravens starters from last season's Super Bowl season moving on to other teams, many have dubbed them offseason losers. Who could blame them? The Ravens will be without nine starters from last season's team which include the recently departed Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Anquan Boldin, Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger.
Despite those sentiments, there are still viable options remaining on the free-agent market and the Ravens also have 12 draft picks in the upcoming draft. The Ravens have already begun to restock their defense by adding veterans Chris Canty and Marcus Spears in order to improve a underachieving defensive line.
There is a lot of time before the new season begins and with that said a lot of time before we can write the Ravens off as offseason duds. Here is a list of free agents who the Ravens have been rumored to sign or could show interest in signing in order to fill the needs of the team.
OLB/DE Elvis Dumervil
It is almost surprising that the Ravens have been linked to a player of Dumervil's caliber when one considers the Ravens salary cap situation. The Ravens current financial situation has not stopped the rumor especially considering the Broncos "underwhelming offer."
Teams can sometimes work magic when it comes to contract offers and the Ravens may consider Dumervil worth a "creative" long-term offer.
At 29 years old, Elvis Dumervil is still fairly young and he possesses something that the Ravens defense lacked last season—speed and quickness. Dumervil's 11 sacks last season would be a big boost, especially when teamed up with a healthy Terrell Suggs.
If the Ravens could find a way to bring Dumervil to Baltimore, he would be an upgrade over the departed Paul Kruger, and he may make some fans forget the mass exodus of players. Of course fans are hoping that this Elvis works out a little bit better than the last Elvis they got from an AFC team.
Safety Michael Huff
Ed Reed is gone but certainly not forgotten by a grateful Ravens fanbase. The nature of the NFL rarely allows teams to keep players for nostalgic purposes. So the Baltimore Ravens will try to fill the void left by the future Hall of Famer.
You cannot replace Ed Reed, but you can fill his position with a solid and slightly younger player in the former Oakland Raider Michael Huff. Huff is scheduled to meet with the Ravens, who are also without the recently released Bernard Pollard.
Huff is a solid player and could step in nicely if his contract demands are reasonable. The safety position is now decimated in Baltimore.
OLB James Harrison
Few thought they would ever see James Harrison in any uniform other than a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform and they certainly did not think he would ever be in a Baltimore Ravens jersey. It could happen.
Harrison was let go by the AFC North rival because of the salary cap situation in Pittsburgh. Harrison's play slipped last season, but much of that could be attributed to injuries.
The former Ravens practice squad player went on to Pittsburgh to become the Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Few expect Harrison to return to his 2008 form, but if he can come anywhere close to those numbers or the 2011 season, the Ravens could be in pretty good shape.
If Elvis Dumervil doesn't go for the crab cakes in Baltimore, Harrison could fill a major need for the Ravens. If signed, he would likely be rotated with last year's second-round draft pick Courtney Upshaw. The Ravens have been linked to Harrison, and Harrison has shown interest in Baltimore as well.
Wide Receiver Brandon Lloyd
The Baltimore Ravens disappointed many fans when they traded Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick. Joe Flacco may be the most disappointed of them all. Boldin was his go-to receiver throughout the season and even more so in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. The Florida State product was more than just a receiver, he was tough, physical, reliable and a team leader.
Perhaps his production could be replaced by former New England Patriot (and 49er, Redskin, Bear, Bronco, and Ram) Brandon Lloyd. Boldin had 65 receptions for 921 yards and four touchdowns last season while Lloyd posted similar numbers with 74 catches 911 yards and four touchdowns for the Patriots.
Lloyd has not been linked to the Ravens at this point in time, but he could be a valuable asset to Joe Flacco lining up in the slot.
ILB Bart Scott
Inside linebacker is a major need for the Baltimore Ravens thanks to the retirement of Ray Lewis and the departure of Dannell Ellerbe. With Jameel McClain's health also an issue, the Ravens could stand to sign a veteran inside linebacker.
A return of Bart Scott would at a minimum solve some depth issues for the Ravens. The mad backer is not quite the same player he was in his first go around with Baltimore, but he is still a solid veteran who is familiar with Baltimore's scheme and could therefore be successful.
The market appears to be cold on Scott at the moment, which means he could be one of Ozzie Newsome's patented late/low priced veteran signings. Scott can still start or provide insurance for McClain or for a young player the Ravens draft.