The Baltimore Ravens have a history of finding solid players in the draft. They have a decidedly different experience when it comes to retaining their stars.
Over the past two years, prominent Ravens like offensive linemen Rick Wagner and Kelechi Osemele have signed bigger deals elsewhere while General Manager Ozzie Newsome has struggled to find replacements.
Newsome announced he’s stepping down after the 2018 season and his last offseason with the club hasn’t been a cakewalk.
Baltimore is about $8.9 million over the salary cap and this number will be affected by Brent Urban’s new deal.
Key contributors Ryan Jensen and Mike Wallace are free agents and the Ravens desperately need a wide receiver, outside linebacker and depth along the offensive line.
By cutting Jeremy Maclin ($7.5 million cap hit), Austin Howard ($5 million) and Brandon Carr ($7 million), the Ravens can potentially free up cap space to resign Jensen.
Carr’s release also makes sense, as the Ravens spent a first-round pick on Marlon Humphrey. Jimmy Smith is locked up for two more years and Tavon Young is returning from the season-ending injury he suffered last training camp.
It makes sense to move on from Wallace and start fresh at receiver.
The 2018 draft class is deep at the position and top prospects such as Christian Kirk and Courtland Sutton can easily fall into the Ravens’ lap when they pick 16th.
If the Ravens make these moves and also bring in some offensive line depth and at least one new pass rusher, they could improve upon their 9-7 record and even snatch a playoff spot.
Free agency may not be the answer for the Ravens this offseason.
Ozzie Newsome can instead do the exact thing he has done every year since becoming general manager in 2002– by building through the draft he can give Baltimore a team they can be proud of one final time.