Roster turnover is an annual tradition in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens personnel could undergo more change than usual in the upcoming offseason, since they have missed the playoffs in three of the previous four seasons and have a losing record overall since Ray Lewis retired.
Headlining the team’s pending unrestricted free agents are the jewels of the Ravens 2013 draft class - nose tackle Brandon Williams and right tackle Ricky Wagner. Both are among the best players at their positions in the league, each will generate serious interest if the Ravens allow them to reach the open market.
The next tier of unrestricted free agents includes fullback Kyle Juszczyk, slot cornerback Jerraud Powers, defensive end Lawrence Guy and wide receiver Kamar Aiken. Juice is the best fullback in the NFL, which has become an under appreciated position. Powers and Guy each provided quality seasons, and would be valuable additions to the 2017 roster if they agree to reasonable contracts. Aiken regressed this year after a breakout 2015.
Hybrid safety Anthony Levine, backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, offensive guard Vlad Ducasse and safety Matt Elam will also be unrestricted free agency unless the Ravens resign them before free agency begins on March 9th. Steve Smith Sr.’s contract is set to expire, and he is expected to retire following his sixteenth season.
Finally, inside linebacker Zachary Orr and running back Terrance West will be restricted free agents in the offseason. Both Orr and West emerged as key contributors this season, the Ravens will hope to resign them unless another team submits a overly generous bid for their services.
Elvis Dumervil could be an offseason salary cap casualty. Doom struggled with injury and ineffectiveness in 2016, his release would provide $6 million in additional cap space. Lardarius Webb, Jeremy Zuttah, Dennis Pitta and Shareece Wright may also be cap casualties depending on the extent of roster rebuilding the organization decides to take on. This quartet all posted mixed seasons, releasing all four veterans would create nearly $14 million in cap relief.
Receiver Mike Wallace had a productive season for the Ravens, but his two year contract is heavily backloaded. The Ravens could release him if they opt for a full blown roster rebuild route. Kyle Arrington, Kendrick Lewis and Ben Watson represent three veterans who did not help the team much, if at all this season. Each is under contract for next year, but none are likely to be on the team in 2017.
The possible final opportunity for these players to represent the Baltimore Ravens provides some significance to an otherwise meaningless game against the Bengals in Week 17. No matter what the future holds, we should appreciate the sacrifices these men made for our team through the years.