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Ravens News 2/1: Positional needs, salary cap preview and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Tennessee Titans Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Ranking Baltimore Ravens’ biggest needs by position, from No. 14 to No. 1 - Aaron Kasinitz

4) Defensive end

Brent Urban started every game for the Ravens in 2018 and is set to enter unrestricted free agency in March, which is why defensive end ranks high on this list. Chris Wormley and Sieler offer in-house options to replace Urban, and perhaps Willie Henry could slide over to play the three-technique if Urban doesn’t come back. Whatever the case, the Ravens will want to make sure they don’t let this position grow into a weakness.

3) Outside linebacker

The Ravens all-time leader in sacks (Terrell Suggs) and the team’s 2018 sacks leader (Za’Darius Smith) can both watch their contracts expire this offseason. Smith would likely command a large payday on the open market, the 36-year-old Suggs is trying to maintain his strong level of play late in his career and the Ravens must make sure they can pressure quarterbacks off the edge. Matt Judon remains in place, but 2017 draft picks Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams haven’t shown many signs of progress through two years in the league. Baltimore won’t have a scary pass rush in 2019 if it doesn’t address this position.

Wide receiver, offensive guard and center are also considered top-5 needs this offseason. A case can be made that acquiring a defensive end who provides consistent interior pressure is just as important as adding another outside linebacker.

One thing each AFC team can do to earn spot in Super Bowl LIV - Gregg Rosenthal

Baltimore Ravens: Rebuild their defense on the fly. Ascendant general manager Eric DeCosta is taking over the franchise at a challenging time. While attention will naturally be focused on quarterback Lamar Jackson’s development, maintaining the team’s top-flight defense without allowing it to get too old will be a bigger challenge. A valuable chunk of the front seven -- Terrell Suggs (36 years old), C.J. Mosley (26), Za’Darius Smith (26) and Brent Urban (27) -- is set to hit free agency. Most of their veteran starting secondary -- cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (30) and Brandon Carr (32), along with safeties Tony Jefferson (27) and Eric Weddle (34) -- have contracts that could put them at risk to be released. One way or another, this defense is going to look a lot different next season.

2018’s top ranked defense has many moving parts this offseason. Still, it is not out of the question that the unit could be better, particularly in terms of takeaways, next year by replacing older veterans with speedy youngsters.

Ravens 2019 Salary Cap Preview - Brian McFarland

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS (ERFAs)

These players must be tendered contracts of the league minimum, based on the player’s length of service in the league ($645K, $570K or $495K). Once tendered, these players are fully under the team’s control and are not free to negotiate with other teams.

The Ravens have 6 players who are Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFAs):

WR Quincy Adeboyejo

RB Gus Edwards

OT Jermaine Eluemunor

OT Steven Moore

C Matt Skura

RB De’Lance Turner

In past years, because of the minimal cost and minimal impact on the Salary Cap, the Ravens usually tendered all of their ERFAs.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (RFAs)

These are players whose contracts have expired and who have 3 years of accrued service time. The team must tender the player with an RFA offer. Once tendered, another team can sign the player to a RFA offer sheet, but the Ravens then have 7 days to match that offer sheet and retain the player under the terms of that offer sheet. If the Ravens were to choose not to match the offer sheet, they would then receive compensation based on the level of RFA tender made to the player.

There are 3 RFA tenders: 1st Round Tender, 2nd Round Tender and the Low Tender.

* 1st Round Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of a 1st round – $4.402M (est)

* 2nd Round Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of 2nd round pick – $3.092M (est)

* Low Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of a draft pick equal to the round in which the player was originally drafted or the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) for an undrafted player – $2.023M (est)

The Ravens have 4 players who are pending Restricted Free Agents (RFAs), with their draft pick compensation:

RB Alex Collins (5th Round)

CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (2nd Round)

LB Patrick Onwuasor (ROFR)

DT Michael Pierce (ROFR)

The nine unrestricted free agents have received most of the attention but many of these ERFAs and RFAs could be important pieces of the Ravens roster in 2019 and beyond.