Anyone that follows the Ravens closely understands the organization's a formula to success.
1) Build through the NFL draft.
2) Bring back the core players at what's deemed to the correct market value.
3) Add players at the right price in free agency, specifically cap casualties to ensure that compensatory picks stay intact (due to the fact the philosophy is to build through the draft.)
Due to these factors, the Ravens rarely hit free agency by offering a ton of money to top-tier free agents. When deciding which players to bring in, the Ravens have done a great job over the years assessing the kind of value a player can provide.
James Ihedigbo and Corey Graham are great examples of this, as both have since found starting roles and more money elsewhere after exceeding expectations in Baltimore.
That said, the national perception, as a result, may not be as favorable. While Ravens fans have been excited about bringing back core players Eugene Monroe, Daryl Smith, Jacoby Jones and Denis Pitta, while adding Steve Smith and trading for Jeremy Zuttah, SB Nation's Jason Chilton isn't too keen on this approach.
When ranking the top 32 teams in terms of what they've done this free agency, he ranks them No. 24. His reasoning:
"Former Panther Steve Smith is aging, but he adds some needed punch to the Ravens' receiving depth chart behind Torrey Smith ... just so long as he isn't punching any of Baltimore's running backs. Center Jeremy Zuttah is not anyone's idea of a Pro Bowler, but his league-average play would have been a major upgrade on Gino Gradkowski's dire 2013 campaign. Those additions may be hard pressed to compensate for the Ravens' losses, even if you shrug your shoulders at the departure of Michael Oher. Corey Graham, Jameel McClain and James Ihedigbo were all quality players; accounting for those losses will put GM Ozzie Newsome's considerable skills to the test."
As it is in most cases, it's easy to put a magnifying glass on the players that left as oppose to the ones returning. Everyone that follows the Ravens knew the chances of bringing back Oher, Graham and Ihedigbo were next to impossible. McClain's contract was too much for his output the past two seasons, which is why he was released.
Let's just say I respectfully disagree with this notion (also considering the fact the Ravens' biggest loss, Arthur Jones, isn't mentioned here), mainly because this approach isn't new to the organization. Maybe it seems worse this offseason because the Ravens are coming off an 8-8 season.
But this approach took the Ravens to five consecutive playoff appearances, three AFC Championship appearances and a Super Bowl title.
So, something about the way the Ravens operate in free agency has worked for quite some time.