Free agency begins on March 9th at 4pm ET. Between the Baltimore Ravens low leverage salary cap situation and frugal history, they are not expected to be players for the marquee names on the market. They should strictly adhere to their “Right player, Right price” strategy, but would be wise to focus their bargain shopping on younger veterans who could be more than stopgap solutions and improve, not regress over the course of their contract.
J.C. Tretter, Center, Packers
Tretter started the first seven games for Green Bay before a knee injury derailed his season. At 26 years old, he could be a long term answer at any of the interior line positions. He has nearly identical measurements as Jeremy Zuttah (6’4” 307) but is stronger and better in pass protection. Tretter received an Ivy league education at Cornell, so he should have the requisite intelligence to call the blocking assignments.
William Gholston, Defensive End, Buccaneers
Also 26, Gholston would have to make the transition from Tampa Bay’s 4-3 alignment but he has the build (6’6” 281) to hold up in a two gap scheme. He is known as a top run plugger. In 14 games last season, he tripled Lawrence Guy’s sack production and out tackled him 49 to 28. He would likely offer more pass rush for a reasonable price tag.
Jonathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle, Giants
A former second round pick from Ohio State, Hankins had a quiet season following offseason pectoral surgery. He has prototypical nose guard bulk and posted seven sacks from the interior in 2014. While not as sturdy as Brandon Williams against the run, he is a better pass rusher, and has plenty of untapped potential at only 24 years old. If B-Will walks, Hankins could generate most of his production at a discount.
Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Bengals
Kirkpatrick was the 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft and looked like a bust in his first three seasons. But he came on strong in pass coverage over the last two seasons and has ideal length to play outside cornerback. He still has room for improvement at 27, and his athletic talent is evident. Lining up Jimmy Smith on one side, Kirkpatrick on the other with Tavon Young in the slot would allow the Ravens to matchup in man coverage with any team in the NFL.