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Could Ravens Find Ed Reed's Replacement In Free Agency?

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Ed Reed has played all ten seasons of his NFL career with the Ravens, but will that continue in 2013?

USA TODAY Sports

With the Baltimore Ravens already near the ceiling of the NFL salary cap and expected to use most, if not all of the room to sign QB Joe Flacco, where does that leave free safety Ed Reed, who is looking for a new contract? Reed has said he prefers to stay in Baltimore and Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome would not want to see the future Hall of Fame safety wearing any other uniform.

However, the numbers may not work out to keep Reed in purple next season and if he does leave, who will replace Ed? The Ravens have four other safeties on their roster, not including strong safety Bernard Pollard. James Ihedigbo, Sean Considine, Omar Brown and Christian Thompson may be solid players, but none comes close to matching Reed's abilities and know-how, but then again, no one in the NFL does.

SB Nation listed the top free agent safeties that could be on the open market when free agency starts a month from now. Some of them may be re-signed by their current team, including Reed. However if he goes, there are a few they consider among the better ones in the league, although they could end up being as expensive, if not more than Ed wuld cost the team.

Jairus Byrd (Buffalo Bills), Dashon Goldson (San Francisco 49ers), William Moore (Atlanta Falcons) and LaRon Landry (New York Jets) are all considered among the league's better ones, but the Ravens would probably be looking to save money against the cap and thus be looking for one of the cheaper safeties if they go outside their current roster or do not draft a player who can start as a rookie.

(See SB Nation's list of top free agent offensive tackles, which does include the Baltimore Ravens' Bryant McKinnie.)