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When the NFL Lockout ends and the league opens up free agency, the Baltimore Ravens will have to look at their needs including both players who were on the team in 2010 and others from around the NFL. First the team will have to decide which of their own players they want to retain in order to determine their needs from the free agent pool made up of other team's former players.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will decide what players are still the property of the Ravens and which ones are free to sell their servicesto whatever team they want. So for the sake of this story, let's assume the four year rule holds true and the guys the team is concerned about losing are now on the open market, free to negotiate with any team, including their former employer here in Baltimore.
This means guys like guard Marshal Yanda, tackle Jared Gaither, fullback LeRon McClain, cornerbacks Chris Carr and Josh Wilson, as well as safety Dawan Landry are all free agents.
The consensus has been that the team will do what they can to re-sign Yanda and even Gaither on the offense. Yanda is a higher priority and while the Ravens would like to bring Gaither back, it would have to be at the team's price, which probably won't be in the neighborhood that Jared was hoping for.
Defensively, I cannot see the team making a run at Dawan Landry, with both Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura offering no drop off in talent if Landry leaves. With the team drafting rookie Jimmy Smith (Colorado) and Chykie Brown (Texas) at cornerback, as well as Domonique Foxworth returning from his season-ending ACL injury in 2010, I can only see the team choosing between either Chris Carr and Josh Wilson. While many like the local guy, Wilson, from the University of Maryland, I see Carr as the more consistent and steady veteran.
With that in mind, the needs that will probably be filled from outside the organization are the fullback and defensive end. Someone like former Cleveland Browns FB Lawrence Vickers would seem to fit in perfectly in front of RB Ray Rice and probably come at a reasonable price, certainly much cheaper than LeRon McClain will end up with on the open market.
Defensive end will be a tough position to fill, as there are a bunch of players out there, but in order to find the right guy that will fit into their 3-4 scheme, the possibilities are narrowed down considerably. Guys such as Jason Babin (Tennessee Titans), Osi Umenyiora (New York Giants) and Ray Edwards (Minnesota Vikings) may be too small to play in the scheme and the guy they would need in the size and type may just not be there, meaning the need to fall back on hoping that Paul Kruger or rookie Pernell McPhee (Mississippi State) fills that void.
Overall, it should be a massive feeding frenzy, with perhaps as few as two weeks of time between the opening of free agency and the start of Training Camp if the CBA gets settled within the next two weeks. Having one of the best General Managers and scouting departments in the NFL will help the Ravens end up with the guys they feel they need to make another post season run with the Super Bowl trophy as the ultimate prize.
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