Whenever the NFL players end up voting on accepting the owner's offer and the two sides finally sign a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams will have a window of opportunity to re-sign their own free agents before the league-wide free agent signing frenzy takes over. Between their own, the veteran free agents as well as the undrafted college kids, players will be under pressure to sign contracts immediately or risk that team moving onto Plan B and leaving many players out in the cold.
Almost as bad will be the playes who turn down lucrative offers only to find no other takers, resulting in having to sign both low and short-term contracts instead. That's why the first move a team makes as soon as free agency opens will set the tone for the entire free agency signing period. The Baltimore Ravens have a bunch of their own free agents to determine who to re-sign, but where will they go when the clock starts ticking around the league?
ESPN Insider thinks the Ravens need to improve their pass rush and since they usually set their defense in a 3-4 scheme, need either a bigger defensive end that is truly out there or an outside linebacker who can put his hand in the dirt when they need to put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. The guy they think the Ravens should target is not located very far from them at all.
Within their division is former Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Matt Roth. Roth, listed at 6'4" and 265 pounds, might just fit the bill. While it says that he only had 4.5 sacks last year, he did have 24.5 QB hurries, which is what might make him an attractive option to bookend the pass pressure that comes from Terrell Suggs. Suggs single-handedly presented the only true threat to rush the passer in 2010.
Here is what ESPN Insider says about the Ravens most pressing need:
"Baltimore Ravens -- Sign OLB Matt Roth
In the 2011 draft, the Ravens did not address a pass rush that ranked 27th in adjusted sack rate in 2010. Roth, a free-agent outside linebacker, recorded just 3.5 sacks last season but, according to our game charters, posted 24.5 QB hurries, a sign that he could be the pass-rushing answer opposite Terrell Suggs."
Adding a pass rusher that could probably come at a reasonable price could not only fill a huge void, but leave precious bucks that can go to fill other needs, re-sign the team's own FA's or be saved for current Ravens who are due to become free agents in 2012.