Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Paul Kruger is one of the team's key defensive players who is on the bubble in many people's minds regarding whether he can or should be retained by the team for next season and beyond.
Kruger will be an unrestricted free agent and is due to get a hefty raise from his original rookie contract after a solid year. Add the title, 'Super Bowl Champion,' to his resume and you have a guy who is going to be an attractive option to a team who is willing to fork over the bucks to entice Paul to sign with a new team.
Kruger broke out in the 2012 regular season with nine sacks, good for a tie as 23rd best in the league this year, behind league leader, J.J. Watt (20.5 sacks) of the Houston Texans. In 2011, Kruger had 5.5 sacks, showing marked improvement this season,mostly due to more playing time and the return of Terrell Suggs, where he had 7.5 of his sacks from week seven on.
If Kruger does leave, the Ravens would seem to be content to plug 2012 rookie OLB Courtney Upshaw into that position. Upshaw only 1.5 sacks on the year, but did have 60 tackles, which was more than Kruger's 42.
Upshaw was drafted by the Ravens early in the second round of the 2012NFL Draft, with the hope that he could be the next great Ravens linebacker and the 6'2", 272 pound 23 year old could be a fixture on the outside of the Ravens defense for years to come.
The decision whether or not to try to re-sign Kruger will be based on a lot of variables, including the team's many other free agents, which of course, will all be affected by the contract that QB Joe Flacco will ultimately sign with the team.