If you’ve been sleeping through the first week of free agency, press that snooze button ‘cause the Baltimore Ravens have yet to make any major moves. We’re now a week in, and true to form, the Ravens are letting the rest of the NFL fight it out for the most coveted talent.
Though they have yet to sign any outsiders and were turned down by guard Evan Mathis, the Ravens have been quietly sorting through the bargain heaps trying to fill a couple of needs here and there.
Just because the Ravens haven’t been too quick to sign anyone doesn’t mean that they haven’t at least been flirting with the idea though. Several players have come into the Ravens’ facilities for work-outs and interviews but thus far haven’t yielded any contract signings.
All of that could be changing very soon though…
(After the "Jump", see a list, albeit a small list, of players the Ravens have recently been meeting with)
The Ravens are a drafting team. That’s how they build their core group of players. Almost every major NFL star that is employed by the Ravens was a player that they drafted themselves, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Ravens have been quiet during this time in the off-season.
As previously mentioned though, the Ravens have met with several free agents from around the NFL and it’s most likely just a matter of time until they decide to scoop someone up and place them in the purple and black.
Here’s a quick look at who the Ravens have on their radar:
Mark Anderson, Defensive End (New England Patriots): With Cory Redding departing Baltimore to reunite with Chuck Pagano and his Indianapolis Colts and Jarret Johnson bolting for the San Diego Chargers, the Ravens are in the market for a new pass-rusher to plug in opposite Terrell Suggs.
Anderson, a 6-year veteran, was drafted in 2006 in the 5th round by the Chicago Bears. Although he wasn’t a full-time starter during his rookie season, Anderson thrived as a pass-rush specialist and notched 12 sacks. After throwing together a stellar rookie campaign, Anderson was recognized for his efforts by being the runner up for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, losing out to only his former Alabama teammate, linebacker DeMeco Ryans who was just recently traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Anderson spent 5 years in Chicago before being released by the Bears. After a year-long stint with the Houston Texans following his departure from the Bears, Anderson landed with the New England Patriots for the 2011-2012 season and had a big bounce-back campaign in which he totaled: 29 tackles/10 sacks/1 pass deflection/2 forced fumbles.
It’s easy to see why the Ravens would be interested in Anderson. For one, he would fill a need for the organization in an off-season which has seen a fair bit of turn-over in the pass-rush department with the departures of Redding and Johnson. Add on top of that, Anderson could prove to be somewhat of an upgrade over Redding who was never truly a phenomenal pass-rusher for the Ravens and only tallied 7.5 sacks through two seasons in Baltimore.
At just 28-years-old, Anderson offers a lot of upside. He’s young and most likely still coachable, and listed at 6-4 255 lbs., he should prove pretty versatile as well in the Ravens’ multi-dimensional complex schemes. With Anderson’s frame, it seems conceivable that he could line up in a three-point stance with his hand in the ground as a defensive end or line up standing up on the outside as an outside linebacker to place opposite Suggs.
It’s always the: "right player for the right price" mentality here in Baltimore, but if the Ravens could strike a deal with Anderson he could prove to be a solid, worthwhile addition. Other teams rumored to be in the hunt for Anderson include: the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ted Ginn Jr., Wide Receiver/Kick Returner (San Francisco 49ers): As one of the last few remaining "big-name" receivers, Ginn is still dangling on the market. Somehow, someway, the dual-threat multi-purpose Ginn is still out-there on the free agent market in an NFL which covets Ginn’s type of multi-purpose skill sets as a wide-out and kick returner. So of course, Ginn’s inability to strike a deal with any team thus far begs the question: why not?
Well, the answer could be as simple as the injury he sustained just a short time before the NFC Championship Game. In the game before the NFC Championship contest against the New Orleans Saints, Ginn went down with a knee injury. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that his knee has yet to heal which has led to several teams, including the Ravens, taking a pass on Ginn at this time. Or even worse, it’s possible that Ginn isn’t able to pass a physical at this point which is typically a major step in finalizing any potential contract negotiations. Either way, it’s rather surprising that no team has yet to lock-down Ginn on their roster.
Injury or not, the Ravens desperately need a solid and consistent return-man to take over on kick and punt returns. As an added bonus, Ginn has above average straight-line speed that could prove to be dangerous in Cam Cameron’s Air Coryell offense with the strong-armed Joe Flacco at quarterback.
Since the real value lies within Ginn’s return abilities, here’s a little by the (2011-2012 regular season) numbers on Ginn and how he stacks up against the Ravens’ primary kick and punt returners:
Kick returns (Ginn): 29 returns/800 yards/27.6 yards-per-return/1 TD/Longest return went for 102 yards
Kick returns (David Reed): 18 returns/534 yards/29.7 yards-per-return/0 TDs/Longest return went for 77 yards
Punt returns (Ginn): 38 returns/12.3 yards-per-return/1 TD/Longest return went for 55 yards
Punt returns (Lardarius Webb): 30 returns/10 yards-per-return/1 TD/Longest return went for 68 yards
With the emergence of Webb as a top-flight cornerback and D. Reed’s status for next season unclear after suffering a torn ACL, the Ravens should look to stabilize their kick returning situation this off-season. Ginn would be a valuable asset as he could keep Webb off of the field for returns lessening his chances of a severe injury and Ginn could also add a much needed spark to an otherwise run-of-the-mill Ravens special teams unit.
Both Anderson and Ginn would be solid free agency additions this off-season and both would fill an immediate need on the Ravens’ roster. However, as we’ve all grown accustomed to here in Baltimore, the Ravens’ front office won’t sign a player unless they can get: "a Ravens player at a Ravens price".