Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson has played in a franchise record 129 games, but the big question is whether or not he will have a chance to add to that record in 2012. Johnson will be an unrestricted free agent come March 8th, and the combination of the team's other priorities, needs and Johnson age might tilt the odds away from him returning to Baltimore, unless it is in a visiting team's uniform.
At age 30, JJ is a veteran on a team stocked with possible replacements at outside, who could step in and succeed in the Ravens defensive scheme and become the next great Ravens outside linebacker as history has proven. At the same time, as has been the case with most Ravens defensive free agents, he should be a ht commodity on the open market.
Over the past decade, the names of Ravens defensive players that have hit it big in free agency is numerous. On Baltimore Ravens.com, NFL Network Analyst Jason La Canfora discusses the market for Johnson.
(See more of what Jason La Canfora said about Jarret Johnson after the 'Jump')
La Canfora mentions the players who have found big paydays upon leaving the Ravens, but also speaks about the reality of their lesser success those players have had after leaving. Most Ravens fans snicker and mumble how fleeting success is for those defensive players once they leave the wide shadow from underneath the wings of Ray Lewis, who commands so much attention even at this point of his career that other players around him end up ignored leading to inflated stats that do not repeat after joining their new team.
However, Johnson's long tenure in Baltimore, his personality, leadership ability on the field and in the locker room, could make him highly targeted if the Ravens do not re-sign him. Many think he could follow former Ravens defensive coordinator and now new head coach Chuck Pagano to the Indianapolis Colts.
According to the BaltimoreRavens.com ory, Johnson has publicly said he wants to retire a Raven and has a great friendship with fellow outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. Based on the team's needs and priorities, the only way it appears that JJ will remain with the team is for him to give a significant "home-team discount," which with the probably big payday he could get elsewhere, seems slim.
The Ravens will be just fine plugging in the hole left if Johnson bolts for greener pastures, as they have the possibilities of putting Paul Kruger, Sergio Kindle and other choices, including another veteran free agent or even an upcoming draft pick in his place. Johnson was a popular player of the fans, who will miss him if he leaves. However, knowing the Ravens, his absence will not lessen the ranking of the defense from being one of the league's best once again in 2012 and beyond.