The Silly Season is upon us, where NFL teams vie for various free agents in hopes of building the perfect roster for the upcoming season.
The official start for free agency begins on March 11, with legal tampering beginning this Saturday. From Saturday through Monday, teams are able to reach out to soon-to-be free agents to get a feel on where they stand and if they'd be interested in joining their team once the market opens up.
In preparation, here's a Ravens free agency primer to get ready for what should be a wild week ahead:
The Ravens, in a solid salary cap position already, received an even bigger break with the cap jumping to $133 million this season. As it stands, the Ravens have roughly under $25 million to spend, which means that after keeping the guys they want to bring back, they could get a name or two they otherwise wouldn't be able to in most years. As John Harbaugh stated during Wednesday's Dennis Pitta press conference, this is the most money the franchise has had heading into the offseason during his time as head coach.
Ravens' Free Agents
The Ravens have 20 total free agents — 12 of which are the of the unrestricted variety. Two are restricted free agents and six are exclusive rights free agents. This number doesn't include Brandon Stokley, who announced his retirement earlier this offseason.
Of these, the Ravens seem most likely to let Clark and Scott go without an offer. The Ravens could try to bring Cody and Dickson back cheap. Arthur Jones is the most likely one to walk and receive a big payday elsewhere.
Offense: The Ravens have a lot of work to do to fix the offense. There's a legitimate chance that both Monroe and Oher are on different teams in 2014, which could mean that the need for a left tackle skyrockets to the top of the list. Interior offensive line help is needed too. Then there's a need for a slot receiver to aid the passing game, as well as another tight end that can keep defenses off-balance in Baltimore's 12 personnel. Oh, and did we mention running back? Harbaugh stated he'd like to add another running back to the mix, and that doesn't even take into account Ray Rice's legal issues at the moment.
Defense: The top two positions of need are free safety and a three-technique defensive lineman. The Ravens were without a true free safety in 2013 and could address that position in the draft or free agency. However, if it's in the draft, it would need to be in the first round to get an instant impact player such as Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Assuming Arthur Jones leaves via free agency, that creates the need for a three-technique defensive lineman. The Ravens could also use depth at inside linebacker and cornerback, especially if Corey Graham walks.
Special Teams: If the Ravens are able to bring back Jacoby Jones, then the return game should be just fine. If not, they still might not have to go into free agency as players such as Deonte Thompson and Asa Jackson could fill the role. Justin Tucker is (obviously) safe and Sam Koch should be too (though that's not as certain).
Free agency might be the place the Ravens turn to for a free safety, given all the other positions of need they'll need to draft for in the first round.
Though Jairus Byrd would be ideal, he could very well become the highest-paid free safety in the game. That likely plays against the Ravens, considering what the organization has done in previous seasons. Chris Clemons could be someone that fits the mold of what the Ravens could be looking for — experience, decent playmaking ability and at the right price.
On offense, the Ravens could seek a slot receiver in free agency. Some interesting names to consider are Julian Edelman, Ted Ginn, Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders and Dexter McCluster. Can the Ravens land one of these guys and would they provide a spark to the offense?
If the Ravens go the free agent route on the offensive line, cheaper-than-Monroe options include Rodger Saffold and Anthony Collins. If the Ravens do bring on a tackle better suited for the right side, it could open up a door for Kelechi Osemele to get a look at left tackle.