Paul Kruger, OLB, Cleveland Browns
After leading the Ravens in sacks last season, Kruger stayed in the AFC North with a 5 year, $40 million contract from the Cleveland Browns. Despite having a bigger part of the defense, Kruger’s sacks fell to his lowest in three years at 4.5. Kruger did put up 47 tackles, but had 42 tackles as a reserve in Baltimore in 2012.
Elvis Dumervil posted 9.5 sacks this season for a cheaper contract than Kruger’s. There is no doubt Ozzie Newsome made the right call here.
Dannell Ellerbe, ILB, Miami Dolphins
Ellerbe fit well in Miami, posting career bests with 101 tackles and 2 interceptions while getting paid $6 million per year. Ellerbe has always struggled with injuries during his career, and once again did not make it through the entire season.
Longtime Jaguar Daryl Smith signed a one-year contract with a base value of $1.25 million with an extra $1 million incentive clause. I am assuming Smith reached that incentive, as he played all 16 games and put up 123 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 5 sacks. Additionally, Smith proved his value in coverage and was the MVP of the Ravens defense this season.
Needless to say, Ed Reed’s 2013 season was a disappointment. After opting for more money than the Ravens were offering, Reed began the season with the Houston Texans. After recovering from hip surgery, Reed did not play until week three and was cut after week ten. Reed then landed with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets, finishing the year with 3 interceptions (2 in the last two weeks).
Matt Elam was drafted in the first round out of the University of Florida, and overall played well in the free safety roll. Elam finished with 77 tackles and 1 interception after playing all 16 games. His skills may be better suited for strong safety.
Bernard Pollard, S, Tennessee Titans
Bernard Pollard was cut by the Ravens after notoriously clashing with John Harbaugh. Pollard has always been known for his hard hits that draw penalties and fines, and this season was no different. Pollard put up 99 tackles and 3 interceptions, but his penalties and breakdowns in pass coverage were not missed.
James Ihedigbo put up eerily close statistics with 101 tackles and 3 interceptions, but often times he was the glue that kept the secondary together. As an unrestricted free agent, it may be difficult for the Ravens to retain him this offseason.
Cary Williams, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
After starting the season with a viral video of a fight with Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, Cary Williams played well this season with 67 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 11 passes defended.
The Ravens looked in house to replace Williams, as former first round pick Jimmy Smith stepped into the starting role and played better than Williams. Smith had a breakthrough season with 58 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 16 passes defended.
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Due to money restrictions, the Ravens were forced to trade playoff hero Anquan Boldin to San Francisco for a sixth round pick. Boldin hauled in 85 receptions for 1,179 yards and 7 touchdowns as the go-to guy for quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Boldin is the only play the Ravens never adequately replaced, as rookie free agent Marlon Brown and speedster Jacoby Jones combined to post 979 receiving yard and 9 touchdowns (7 from Brown). This trade was about money, though, and the Ravens got the necessary cap room to improve the defense that had been a liability for all of 2012.