The Baltimore Ravens' defense has been one of the best in the NFL for most of the past decade. Despite the future retirements of both Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, this defense should be just fine and in the good hands of Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Lardarius Webb, among others. With a few players looming as possible free agents, the team will have to make decisions based on the salary cap and jettison high-priced players on both sides of the ball.
Will the Ravens be willing to pick up one of the more expensive free agents on the open market with so many of their own players at or near the end of their current deals and due to be rewarded with huge paydays themselves? Can the team dump decent players with high cap numbers in return for picking up that one player that could ensure this tam continues to terrorize offenses for years to come?
Houston Texans OLB Mario Williams might be one of the most expensive players out there when free agency opens up on March 8th, but might he consider taking a slightly lesser salary to play with Ray and Ed, as well as the chance of going to the Super Bowl in the very near future?
Before having his 2011 season ended due to injury, Williams was thought to be one of the best defensive players in the league, young enough to stay in that discussion for years to come. Moving from defensive end to outside linebacker was not his idea but he adapted to it like a fish to water. In a little over five NFL seasons, Williams has 53 sacks and prior to his injury this past season, he was averaging a sack a game in the five he played, according to his profile on NFL.com.
At 6'6" and 283 pounds, the 27-year old Williams is in the prime of his career. His size and freakish athletic abilities would be an amazing complement to Terrell Suggs and together they would make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks. With Ray Lewis in the middle, the three of them along with Ngata and Terrence Cody in the middle would leave no holes in the front seven of this already stout defense.
However, what would the cost of adding someone of Williams' ability be to the detriment of other current Ravens? Certainly, the team would have to let veteran Jarret Johnson go, and most likely it would mean that guard Ben Grubbs would not be re-signed. WR Lee Evans has a high cap number so unless he is released and then re-signed, he could be cut as well.
Knowing the way the Ravens Front Office operates, if the team wants Mario, they can find a way to make it work, cap-wise. Unfortunately, tough decisions on other players, both on the Ravens and in possible other free agents, would be greatly affected. The signing of Williams by the Ravens would probably mean that other than players needed to fill out the roster, the team's foray into free agency would be marginal and the NFL Draft would provide their best bet at filling the other needs of the team on both sides of the ball.
Would it be worth it? Before the team makes that decision, it's your turn to have your say.