8 Early Winners and Losers of the Baltimore Ravens' Offseason

Mike FastContributor IJune 18, 2013

8 Early Winners and Losers of the Baltimore Ravens' Offseason

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    It's certainly been a busy offseason for the Baltimore Ravens.

    Since free agency began 14 weeks ago, Baltimore has signed 24 players. Seven of those players did not play for the Ravens in 2012.

    There has even been a key coaching addition, as the Ravens have signed Steve Spagnuolo to be their senior defensive assistant. Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants during their 2007 Super Bowl-winning season.

    For all the talk about who the Ravens lost, there hasn't been enough talk about who they've gained.

    Baltimore has gotten younger and more diverse defensively. Usually that wouldn't be such a big deal, but the Ravens finished last year ranked 17th in total defense—their worst ranking in a decade. They needed a big change.

    There's still more than a month left before training camps begin. Until then, let's take a look at the winners and losers of the Ravens' offseason.

Winner: Joe Flacco

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    When you sign a $120.6 million contract, how are you not a winner?

    Joe Flacco secured his financial future when he signed his mega deal earlier this offseason.

    He also got his left tackle, Bryant McKinnie, back in the fold after he (McKinnie) was an unrestricted free agent.

    With his contract taken care of, Flacco can focus on football. He's been improving statistically every year and is coming off what is probably his best overall season thus far.

    Everything is in place for Flacco to make his mark on the Ravens and on the NFL in 2013.

Loser: Rolando McClain

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    Rolando McClain signed with the Ravens on April 12.

    10 days later, he was arrested in Decatur, Alabama, on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

    23 days after that, he retired from the NFL.

    Via John Breech of CBSSports.com, McClain explained his decision in a statement on May 16, a day after he informed the Ravens of his retirement:

    Clearly, my decision to retire has raised some questions. ... Quite simply, I love football, but I have decided at this time it is in my best interest to focus on getting my personal life together. Beyond that, I am not sure what the future holds for me, including football. This was entirely my decision and the Ravens have been very supportive during this process. I am very grateful for the opportunity they gave me and wish them the best of luck in the future. God willing, maybe I'll play for them one day.

    McClain was the eighth overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft out of Alabama. He was no stranger to the words promise and potential.

    As McClain alluded to, this may not be the end, but even if that's true, this has been an awful beginning to his pro career.

Winner: Matt Elam

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    Being the first draft pick of an NFL franchise that just won the Super Bowl qualifies you as a winner.

    Matt Elam will very likely start from day one and will have the opportunity to be the game changer Ed Reed was in Baltimore for 11 years.

    According to The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel, Elam was incredibly active and dynamic in minicamp. He was a standout despite there being so many new faces (many of whom are accomplished NFL veterans).

    His athleticism and flare are evident. So too is his leadership.

    The Ravens needed a defensive leader (on and off the field) in a bad way, and they were able to draft Elam. He figures to be in Baltimore and in Pro Bowls for many years to come.

Loser: Terrence Cody

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    Last year was not a good one for Terrence Cody.

    In 2012, Cody started only three games after starting every game in 2011. The man who replaced him was 33-year-old Ma'ake Kemoeatu.

    In early April, Cody underwent hip surgery and has since recovered. However, it's clear Cody is not the main man in the middle of Baltimore's defensive line like he once was.

    With the 94th pick in this year's draft, Baltimore took nose tackle Brandon Williams out of Missouri Southern State. Williams has a strong shot to start, although there will be a rotation at the position.

    Cody was a two-down player who only started three games last season. With the addition of Chris Canty, Marcus Spears and Williams, as well as already having to compete with Arthur Jones and DeAngelo Tyson, his prospective playing time isn't looking good.

Winner: Haloti Ngata

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    Haloti Ngata missed most of the second half of Super Bowl XLVII due to a sprained MCL. In fact, he had to deal with injuries during most of last year.

    He says he just started running about three weeks ago and hopes to be ready to go for training camp (full-team practices begin July 25 and last through August 13).

    The opposite of what's true for Cody is true for Ngata. When he's healthy, he'll be able to play at his natural position (defensive tackle) and won't have to play as much at nose tackle as he did last season.

    Ngata is an established veteran who can play every defensive line position at an exceptional level. He's been a first-team All-Pro twice in the last three years.

    If he can get healthy, which he's on track to do, Ngata could definitely be the best defensive player in football.

Loser: Damien Berry

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    Right now there are five running backs on the Ravens' roster.

    Damien Berry is, at best, fourth on that list.

    Tuesday night, June 11, Berry did something that did not help his cause whatsoever. He was arrested on a failure to appear warrant.

    He was released the next day but has an October 10 Baltimore County court date, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.

    All in all, the charge doesn't seem to be major. Still, for a guy who has never played a down in the NFL, this was a huge blunder.

    I'm not saying they will, but this is more than enough cause for the Ravens to cut Berry.

Winner: Terrell Suggs

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    Terrell Suggs played well and admirably last season, despite having to come back from a torn Achilles and a torn biceps.

    Not only is he healthy now, not only has he lost a significant amount of weight, but he's also the longest-tenured defensive player the Ravens have.

    In other words, he's the man on defense.

    I think he will like that role.

    Although Suggs won a Super Bowl last year, don't expect him to be satisfied. A healthy and elite defender who has something to prove definitely makes for a winning formula.

Winner: Lardarius Webb

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    In 2011, Lardarius Webb played better than Darrelle Revis, who many consider to be the best defensive back in football.

    In 2012, Webb suffered a season-ending left ACL injury in the Cowboys game. It was the second ACL tear he's had to overcome in his four-year career.

    But as Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com points out, not only is Webb recovering well, but he's also recovering ahead of schedule.

    If there was a bright spot to the Ravens defense last year, it was the secondary. It intercepted five passes in four playoff games and returned one for a touchdown (Corey Graham at Denver).

    And of course, the Ravens defensive backs stifled the 49ers on their final drive of Super Bowl XLVII.

    The good news about Webb getting injured is that it forced other cornerbacks to step up, which yielded valuable experience.

    Assuming Webb returns to the starting lineup fully healed, the Ravens will be that much more dangerous to opposing offenses.