There are three Baltimore Ravens that could end up making their first big payday this off season after the Ravens magical Super Bowl season, Cary Williams, Paul Kruger and Danell Ellerbe. The team has a ton of off season deals to make and possibly re-negotiate, starting with super MVP quarterback Joe Flacco and including stars like Anquan Boldin and Ed Reed. These three young players could all potentially find themselves in other cities next season however. If you were the Ravens and you had the money to keep just one who would it be?
Ellerbe probably has a leg up on the competition because he plays a position that the Ravens are in need. Also he probably will be a bit cheaper than Kruger or Williams simply because he wasn't the starter all season and teams may still have some question marks next to his name.
With Ray Lewis retiring and Jameel McClain, Albert McClellan and Josh Bynes the only viable replacements currently on the roster the Ravens will probably make Ellerbe a good contract offer. One that should keep him from testing the free agent waters.
Many fans have already said good bye to Williams. To the casual fan he didn't seem to be a very good player but Williams was the Ravens most consistent corner the entire season and continuously drew the assignment of covering the opposing teams best receiver.
Williams was very near the top of the AFC in interceptions and pass deflections. He put up numbers that will draw quite a few teams interest this off season, even if he did get beat for big plays from time to time. He is not a true number one corner but can definitely be an excellent number two on most NFL rosters. The Ravens simply don't have the money to pay him what other teams will. That is, unless they sacrifice other positions...
A former second round draft pick, Paul Kruger finally showed the Ravens fans why the team had him regarded so highly when he was drafted. During Krugers first few seasons he could barely get on the field due to the fact that he didn't participate on special teams and the Ravens had much depth at the outside linebacker position. In 2011 and last season Paul finally got his chance to show what he could do and he excelled as a top pass rusher on the team.
The Ravens will not be able to compete in a bidding war to retain Kruger's talents. If they want to keep him they will have to lose, perhaps multiple, players at other positions.