The Baltimore Ravens finished the season on a down note with an 8-8 record and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The reigning Super Bowl champions had an opportunity to make the postseason with a win in their final game of the season (with the Miami Dolphins losing), but fell to the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-17.
As deflating as this year has been for the Ravens, you don't have to look far for the last team to miss the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl. The New York Giants failed to reach postseason play last season with a 9-7 record after winning it all in 2011.
With that said, Baltimore now must look ahead to 2014. Rather than prepare each week for upcoming games, the Ravens front office will begin to fully assess their own team and the external market for free agency.
Head coach John Harbaugh made this clear in a news conference on Tuesday earlier this week, via Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County Times:
“This is when you build a team,” Harbaugh said. “This is when you build a foundation of your team. The better job we do right now scheme-wise and personnel-wise, the better we’ll be next year, so it’s like a sense of urgency right now to go to work.”
The following six players are a combination of in-house free agents the Ravens should prioritize in keeping and players from other teams who will test the external market.
Both team needs and salary cap space were taken into consideration. Baltimore currently projects to have $16.6 million in cap room heading into 2014, via Over the Cap.
All statistics courtesy of NFL.com, unless otherwise noted.