This past week certainly was not the most memorable for Baltimore Ravens fans. The team lost a lot of guys that were instrumental in the Super Bowl run. At least 6 members of the starting lineup from February 3rd will be wearing different colors next year. With Ed Reed in Houston Thursday and Friday, that number could increase. I know a lot of Ravens fans are very disappointed with what has happened during the free agent period, but in my opinion this needed to happen. When free agency starts, everyone knows the amount of cap room their favorite team has…when one of your veterans gets cut…adjust cap room. Then fans just assume the team will use that room to make the team Super Bowl worthy again. For the Ravens this year, that cap room has gotten larger and larger and they haven’t done anything with it thus far except for signing a very cap friendly contract with Chris Canty. Fans have started to get mad that we didn’t use the cap room to keep our players if we weren’t going to use it to get the best the unemployment line had to offer. When you look at what happened, it makes sense that we move on.
Anquan Boldin was due 7.5 million this year. He refused to restructure (take less money) his contract and the Ravens got what they could for him through the trade market. Anquan Boldin had one of the best postseason in the history of the NFL, but with the stringent salary cap, teams cannot be in the business of paying players for past performance. Good organizations pay a player for what they are worth, not for services already rendered. I know Ray Lewis got a lucrative deal, but he provided more to the team in terms of intangibles to offset his aging. A sixth round pick seems a bit slim for Boldin, but stock piling draft picks is what Ozzie Newson has done in the past and we know he can do a lot with them.
The least shocking of all the moves was Paul Kruger. The Ravens have a history of being able to find bargain pass rushers beyond Terrell Suggs. Yet again, they have signed a very serviceable player in Chris Canty. With Courtney Upshaw waiting in the wings, getting rid of Kruger was a no brainer. Given the fact that he had 12 sacks in his last 12 games including the Super Bowl, you just knew someone was going to give him a huge contract. They did. I wish Paul all the best, but someone who only played 22 snaps in the biggest game of his life does not deserve elite pass rusher money.
The most shocking to me was Dannell Ellerbe. The Miami Dolphins went on a Miami Heat like spending spree this offseason and might provide some much needed competition for the New England Patriots. The Ravens had a number in mind and the Fins blew that out of the water. Ellerbe is someone I think we all became emotionally attached to as we have been looking for that Ray Lewis heir apparent. Ellerbe made big plays throughout the playoffs and had the most tackles in the Super Bowl with 9. When you look at that the breadth of his career, Ellerbe had one very productive season. The Ravens don’t break the bank for those people. They also have an awesome track record of getting rid of guys whose value is too high from playing with Hall of Famers (See Adalius Thomas, Ed Hartwell, Jamie Sharper, Bart Scott). With all the players moving on, it is hard not to think that Ozzie is doing what is best for this organization. He always has.
I know most of the Ravens fans have hit the panic button or are mad that we gave Flacco a huge contract because we can’t pay anyone else. I know it’s not fun, but we just have to smile and believe that this will be the best for the Baltimore Ravens. The fact is we did lose a lot of great players, but through picking up player in the draft and bargains in free agency, I have no doubt this team has a great chance to play in January for a sixth year in a row.