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With what appears to be a purposeful veteran player purge, what's next for the Ravens?
Ray Lewis has retired, Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe has signed insane contracts with the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, respectively, and earlier today, Bernard Pollard was released.
The release of Pollard was the most head-scratching one, as his salary was reportedly only around $2.5 million for 2013, certainly not a prohibitive one. The team couldn't and shouldn't have come close to matching either Kruger's or Ellerbe's deals. Boldin wouldn't take a pay cut so he had to be either traded for whatever they could get or be released.
So now what can the team to to fill these spots and remain a contender for 2013, much less in the future. The Ravens have been known for re-loading as opposed to re-building, so before you jump ship, have faith that GM Ozzie Newsome knows what he is doing.
The team will probably pick up the option on WR Jacoby Jones, and start him opposite Torrey Smith. Guys like Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson and Tommy Streeter may step up in Training Camp, or the team could still sign another free agent wide receiver as well as target one in the NFL Draft late next month.
Safety James Ihedigbo was re-signed and seems destined to start at one of the two safety positions. Obviously, the Ravens will need to sign or draft help at inside linebacker and while Courtney Upshaw may even prove to be an upgrade over Kruger, they will need depth at all linebacker positions beyond Brendon Ayanbadejo, Albert McClellan, Josh Bynes and Adrian Hamilon.
Offensively, the team may need to overpay to keep LT Bryant McKinnie from bolting for the most money the cash-strapped veteran can get. The team has already lost center Matt Birk to retirement and the mere thought of returning RT Michael Oher to the left side sends shivers down most Ravens fan's spines.
Starting positions all over the defense will be up for grabs and depth will be needed as well. This could be GM Ozzie Newsome biggest challenge ever and if he is indeed the 'Wizard of Oz,' we will get a front row seat to see him work his magic over the next few months.