The Ravens decided to part ways with two players who certainly made their mark on the franchise this past offseason, in offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele and inside linebacker Daryl Smith. Both guys helped solidify a position on both sides of the ball and were very reliable on the field. They were tough hard workers who stood by the mantra "Play like a Raven." Unfortunately, you can't keep them all during the offseason. "It's not personal, it's strictly business" as Michael Corleone says in the classic film The Godfather, and the same applies to how these two players left. No matter how different.
Osemele became an unrestricted free agent, the Ravens were never going to give him the money he wanted and he chose to sign with The Oakland Raiders to a 5 year, $60 million contract. A few days before Osemele signed in Oakland, the Ravens released Smith in an effort to get younger and faster on the defense. He would later sign a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The question is, will one of these players departures affect the Ravens in 2016? Will it be both?
Kelechi Osemele was drafted in 2012 and immediately inserted himself into the starting lineup as the right tackle for the regular season and then being switched to left guard for the injured Jah Reid for the postseason. Osemele's 2013 campaign was cut short due to back surgery, but he rebounded with a strong 2014 season playing all 16 games. Last year, Osemele would start the season at left guard, but would finish the year at left tackle due to the ineffectiveness of James Hurst and the recently departed, Eugene Monroe.
To replace Osemele at left guard, the team will have an open competition come training camp between Ryan Jensen, John Urschel and 2016 fourth round pick Alex Lewis out of Nebraska, as left tackle will be manned by Lewis's fellow 2016 classmate Ronnie Stanley. Ryan Jensen showed a lot of potential last year when he started at left guard in the last 6 games of the season, so he should be the favorite for this competition.
Smith was signed as a free agent during a 2013 offseason that saw a lot of departures and changes all over the defense. Smith will go down as one of the most underrated signings in the history of The Baltimore Ravens, he came in during a critical time and took control of the starting job that used to be led by one of the best, if not the best of all time in Ray Lewis. Smith would lead the team in tackles in each season and would provide leadership and stability to the defense. He also became a mentor to Ravens inside linebacker CJ Mosely.
Towards the end of 2015, Smith would be taken out of games during passing downs and replaced by the much younger and faster Zachary Orr. The Ravens will also have an open competition to fill in the inside linebacker position next to Mosely, with Orr and 2013 2nd round pick Arthur Brown. 2016 2nd round pick Kamalei Correa has also taken some snaps at middle linebacker during practices.
The Ravens hope that it can find Smith and Osemele's replacements in house during training camp starting on July 28th. If that proves to not be the case, then the Ravens might be forced to use some of that $12 million in cap space to look outside the castle for help via trade or a late free agency signing. These are big holes to fill entering 2016 and the team is betting on itself and trusting its scouts and coaches on 5 drafted players and 1 undrafted player to make sure that Smith and Osemele are not missed at all.
We can only speculate and debate on who's loss will hurt the Ravens more, maybe they don't, but we will find out come September 11th against The Buffalo Bills.