Just when I started this article, the Ravens signed Cory Redding to a 2 year deal. Great pickup of a guy who was franchised 2 years ago, and then traded along with a 5th rounder for Julian Peterson. He is only 28, so he is young with upside. I can't help but think we probably paid less per year for an upgrade over Bannan or Edwards. I don't know the terms yet though.
Anyways, the point of this article was to look over the "leftovers" of the free agent market and see how it influences the Ravens. It seems that now that most of the big name players are gone, most of the rest will either have to adjust their salary demands or wait until after the draft is over to find teams. It makes you wonder whether some teams may have jumped the gun and/or overpaid on some of the players so far. Could a team that signed a good player have gotten a similar player for cheaper? Look at the Ravens; they didn't overpay for either Bannan or Edwards, instead waited out the market and got a guy on their terms who definitely has more upside than either of the two above mentioned players, on a shorter deal.
So without further ado: The Market as it stands:
QB: Already a weak market, as evidenced by DA and Delhomme getting fairly large deals, this market is basically stripped. The best QB left according to ESPN is Troy Smith, a RFA, followed by John Beck (ironic), Kyle Boller, and Charlie Batch. If someone does not get a QB in the draft that they think can start now, Smith will be a nice pickup. Good chance he might get dealt after the first few rounds by a team who needs one.
RB: A position most teams like to go with youth and a cheap proven veteran. Teams snatched up Thomas Jones, LT and LJ on the cheap to backup and complement their young starters. Most teams with holes will fill them in the draft, but otherwise, all thats left is the injuryprone Brian Westbrook, RFA Pierre Thomas, Willie Parker, and Justin Fargas
WR: Always a tough position to fill with a stud, the only great options here are RFA with high price tags, like VJax, Brandon Marshall, Steve Breaston, and Miles Austin. Otherwise, you are stuck with the over the hill TO, or one of the many castaways. Some say that Anthony Gonzalez of the Colts can be had for a 2nd or 3rd round pick, but other than that the trade market doesn't have much to offer either.
TE: This market is shallow and mainly consists of older veterans who have been bouncing around the league. On the other hand, the draft is loaded at this position, so no reason to jump on the old men.
OL: Offensive line is a position of emphasis in this day and age, where QB's win you Super Bowl's with their arms. Therefore, the price tags have gone up, and tackles are drafted in the upper half of the 1st round all the time. The good lineman get snatched up early in Free Agency. So what is left is essentially RFA and old men. At Center, all that is left to sift through is a bunch of veterans, in Kevin Mawae, Ben Coleman and Seth McKinney. At Tackle, the big names have been grabbed except for a trio of young studs who are RFA, Jared Gaither, Jermon Bushrod, and Jeromay Clary. Other than that, there are some solid veterans and career backups. Noteable names include Mike Gandy, Damion McIntosh and Langston Walker. At Guard there are some solid players left, but nothing to write home about.
DE: This market is made up mainly of veterans who should have a few years left in them. No team is going to break the bank on one of these guys, but many will probably be signed after the draft to help bridge the gap between now and the future. The 4-3 guys are Derrick Burgess, Jevon Kearse, Greg Ellis, Jason Taylor, and Leonard Little. Two guys who should be able to play in both the 3-4 and 4-3 are Charles Grant and Paul Spicer.
DT: Not much to work with here. There are a couple of RFA who are solid, but nothing to sneeze at. There are much better options in the draft. The only unrestricted guy who is decent is Jimmy Kennedy, who didn't even start in Minn, albeit behind 2 Pro Bowl caliber players.
LB: Keith Bulluck is the only LB left who is starting caliber. The rest of the list is career backups. The draft is the place to find LB's if you don't have them on the roster.
CB: This market, never strong to begin with, basically consists of solid veterans who are looking to rebound and get their careers back on track. Most of them are on the market because of declining performances and high contracts. The best of the leftovers fall under 2 catgories: risk guys and old guys. Risk guys include Nathan Vasher, Anthony Henry, Phillip Buchanan, Ken Lucas and Nick Harper. The old guys include Ty Law, Deshea Townsend, Walt Harris and Dre Bly. And then there are the RFA, none of which are worth giving up a draft pick and money for, William Gay, Tramon Williams and Melvin Bullitt. Another deep are of the draft, so most of these guys will be around until after the draft.
S: There are still some highly rated veterans left out there who can help a Super Bowl contender. The question is, why haven't they been snatched up. The answer is probably that their contract demands are not in line with their value. This group includes Darren Sharper, Jermaine Phillips, and Mike Brown. There are also some other, younger, solid options out there, but most of them are borderline starting material.
And Last but not least, Special Teams:
K: Neil Rackers. Jay Feely. Shayne Graham. All solid Kickers who are veterans, but not too old. Makes you wonder if the Ravens might be interested in one of them. Ozzie might wait until after the draft to address this position.