6 Players the Baltimore Ravens Shouldn't Bring Back Next Season
The Baltimore Ravens have remained competitive this season after a major overhaul following last year's Super Bowl victory. At 8-6, the team can still win its division by closing out the final two games.
All of this has occurred in the absence of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard—just to name a few.
And when the 2014 season rolls around, it's likely the Ravens will have another fresh look at several positions.
Regardless of how this season ends, Baltimore must make some difficult decisions relating to its free-agent signings next year.
When reviewing the group of players not under contract, several factors should be taken into consideration. While performance is at the top of the list, age and expected cap hit also weigh on the decision.
Let's take a look at six players who miss the mark in one or more of these areas and who the Ravens should let walk next season.
All statistics courtesy of NFL.com, unless otherwise noted.
OT Michael Oher
The Ravens expected big things out of Michael Oher when they drafted him 23rd overall in 2009. The All-American tackle out of Mississippi signed a five-year, $13.495 million contract.
Fans may remember Oher from the movie The Blind Side, portrayed by Quinton Aaron alongside Sandra Bullock.
While its hard not to fall for the story of Oher, his play over the last two seasons has been extremely poor, especially as it relates to run-blocking.
In 2012, Oher ranked 57th out of 80 tackles who saw 25 percent of their team's snaps, via Pro Football Focus (subscription required). In terms of run-blocking, he ranked 70th.
This season has been even worse for Oher, currently ranking 68th out of 78 tackles. He's nearly dead last in run-blocking, with only David Bakhtiari of the Green Bay Packers below him.
Considering the struggles the Ravens have had this season running the ball—they rank 29th in the NFL in rushing yards—there's little reason to justify re-signing Oher.
His pass-blocking has not been a saving grace either, ranking 48th by Pro Football Focus' methodology. By using Oher's cap hit of $4.955 million in 2013 as a gauge, the Ravens can spend that money in far more productive ways.
WR Brandon Stokley
Brandon Stokley has been a journeyman at wide receiver, starting his career in Baltimore before bouncing around four other teams and now returning to the Ravens.
He signed a one-year contract with the team worth $1.05 million, a relatively cheap signing for the veteran receiver.
Unfortunately for Stokley, he has seen little action with the Ravens, recording only 13 receptions for 115 yards and no touchdowns. His season came to an end after suffering a concussion in Week 14 against the Minnesota Vikings.
With Stokley set to turn 38 in June, his career may be close to the end. He can serve as a great mentor to younger receivers, but the Ravens are better served letting Stokley find another interested team.
When all is said and done, Stokley may have to choose the route of retirement.
S Jeromy Miles
Jeromy Miles played four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before coming over to the Ravens off waivers.
The safety has only started one game in his career, although he has made appearances in 10 games this season for Baltimore.
The one-year, $1.323 million contract for Miles has only produced eight tackles and no other recordable statistic in return for the Ravens.
His career marks are not much better, failing to defend a pass or record an interception.
With the Ravens taking a hit on defense last season with player turnover, the team made a play for Miles to add depth in the secondary. While serviceable at times, Baltimore should go in another direction.
DT Terrence Cody
Terrence Cody was a second-round pick for the Ravens in the 2010 draft and is approaching the end of a four-year, $3.06 million contract.
His impact with the team has been minimal, recording 11 tackles in 10 games played.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the nose tackle ranks 65th among all 85 defensive tackles with at least 25 percent of their team's snaps.
While it's difficult to get playing time behind Haloti Ngata, the chances Cody has received are unimpressive. Unless the Ravens can negotiate an inexpensive contract, the upcoming free agent is expendable.
TE Ed Dickson
When starting tight end Dennis Pitta went out with a hip injury in July, the Ravens needed Ed Dickson to step up and produce.
The fourth-year player has done the exact opposite, performing at a poor level across the board.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Dickson ranks dead last both overall as a tight end and in run-blocking at the position.
The Ravens clearly got the short end of the one-year, $1.323 million contract.
Dickson currently has 21 receptions for 229 yards, with his only touchdown coming in the wild snow game against the Vikings.
Dickson may be the most obvious departure of the group, a player Baltimore originally drafted in 2010 in the third round (70th overall) out of Oregon.
TE Dallas Clark
Dallas Clark actually leads all tight ends on the Ravens with 31 receptions for 343 yards and three touchdowns. However, his passing statistics are more of a representation of the injury to Pitta and poor production of Dickson.
Compared to the league, Clark ranks 30th in passing yards among tight ends.
The former Indianapolis Colt and Tampa Bay Buccaneer turns 35 this offseason and has been consistently mediocre the past few seasons, averaging 378 yards between 2010-2012.
The one-year, $1.005 million contract is not the issue in this evaluation, which is a decent price for veteran leadership. However, Clark's climbing age and lack of productivity against the league is troubling.
With all three tight ends becoming unrestricted free agents for Baltimore in 2014, the team should re-sign Pitta, let Dickson and Clark walk and draft at the position in the upcoming draft.
Matthew Stensrud is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+.