Previewing The Ravens Free Agents

Baltimore Ravens Free Agency
Dennis Pitta

With the Baltimore Ravens season over without making the playoffs, it is time to look ahead to the offseason. At 4 p.m. ET on March 11, free agency will start up and here are the Ravens impending free agents and their chances of returning to the team next season.

There are three different types of free agents: unrestricted, restricted and exclusive rights free agents. For the Ravens, they have 14 unrestricted, two restricted and six exclusive rights free agents.

Unrestricted free agents are the most common in the NFL as any player who has accrued four or more years of playing are unrestricted free agents. This means any player who has just completed his rookie contract is an unrestricted free agent. These players are free to sign with any team once the free agent signing period has started.

Dennis Pitta

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Restricted free agents are players who have three accrued seasons. They are subject to tenders that are given out by their team. If a tender isn’t extended to the player, then they become an unrestricted free agent. If a tender is extended to the player, then their old team has the ability to match any offer from another team on the player. If the Ravens don’t match that offer, then they would receiver draft pick compensation based on the tender given. The potential tenders are first round ($3.023 million), second round ($2.124 million) and original round ($1.389 million). For the original round tender, if a player was an undrafted free agent, then the players team just gets the right of first refusal — no draft pick compensation.

Exclusive rights free agents are players with two or one year of accrued service in the league. They can be tendered with the league minimum for their time of service ($570,000, $495,000 or $420,000). These players are not free to negotiate with other teams once they are given their tender. The Ravens have a history of usually tendering these players.

Before any cuts or renegotiations of contracts, the Ravens will have limited cap space to work with this offseason. They are projected to have around $10 million available before any of these potential moves.

Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs)

TE Dallas Clark
Signed to a one-year deal last offseason after Dennis Pitta suffered an injury, Clark played in 12 games and caught 31 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns. At 34 years old (35 when next season starts), he is a candidate for retirement after 11 seasons in the NFL. Despite all three of the Ravens tight ends being free agents, it is highly unlikely that he returns.
Chance of Return: 5 percent 

DT Terrence Cody
A second-round draft pick in 2010, Cody was supposed to become the starting nose tackle for the Ravens, but that hasn’t happened due to his struggles. He improved this season recording 15 tackles and is a decent backup defensive lineman who can be used in a rotation for a dozen snaps each game. With Brandon Williams being drafted in the third round this season, it is less likely that Cody will return.
Chance of Return: 40 percent

TE Ed Dickson
Another member of the Ravens’ 2010 draft class (a third-round pick), Dickson was set to break out this year with Pitta out due to injury, but that never happened. He had 25 catches for 273 yards and one touchdown. With inconsistent hands and one good season in four years (2011 with 54 catches), it doesn’t seem likely that he will return. Also, he is not a good blocking tight end which is important for backups.
Chance of Return: 30 percent

CB Corey Graham
A key free agent signing two years ago, Graham has contributed in a major way as the Ravens’ number three cornerback over the last two seasons. This year he had four interceptions and 12 passes defensed after two and eight last year respectively. He has the ability to play on the outside or in the slot and plays special teams as well. His two interceptions of Peyton Manning in the Divisional Playoffs last season helped key the Ravens upset over the Denver Broncos. Expect the Ravens to try and re-sign him, but the salary cap could be a deterrent.
Chance of Return: 60 percent

DE Arthur Jones
A full-time starter for the first time in his career this season, Jones responded with his best season to date with 53 tackles and four sacks. He was the most consistent defensive lineman for the Ravens this season playing good as a run defender and pass rusher. This performance likely pushes him out of the running for the Ravens in free agency as a team is going to give him an offer he can’t pass up. The Ravens have the depth to replace him and have other players that are a higher priority to re-sign.
Chance of Return: 15 percent

WR Jacoby Jones
Like Graham, Jones was signed two years ago and has been a key contributor over the last two seasons as a returner and a receiver. This season he caught 37 passes for 455 yards and two touchdowns and returned one kickoff for a touchdown. He is always a threat to score when he touches the ball and that is perfect for the Ravens offense. However, he is likely to command too much money for the Ravens on the open market, especially with the Ravens looking to upgrade their receiving corps.
Chance of Return: 35 percent

S James Ihedigbo
Thrust into a starting role at strong safety this season after the Ravens revamped their defense in the offseason, Ihedigbo was expected to give way to first-round pick Matt Elam, but Ihedigbo’s performance forced Elam over to free safety. The biggest surprise performance of the season for the Ravens was Ihedigbo’s as he had 101 tackles, two forced fumbles and three interceptions. He was a key special teams player two years ago. I’m 50-50 on his return as Elam is a better fit as a strong safety so the Ravens would be better offer acquiring a free safety. With that being said, Ihedigbo would be a good player to bring back and is likely the backup plan if a free safety can’t be found.
Chance of Return: 50 percent

S Jeromy Miles
Claimed off waivers during the season, Miles played special teams and saw a few snaps on defense when Ihedigbo or Elam left with a minor injury. The 26-year old had 10 tackles on the season and likely won’t be very expensive to keep around and would be good depth in the secondary.
Chance of Return: 65 percent

OT Eugene Monroe
Priority number one for the Ravens this offseason is signing Monroe to a long term extension. He was acquired mid-season for a fourth and fifth-round pick in the upcoming draft in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In his 11 games with the Ravens, he stabilized the Ravens’ left tackle position and gives them their best left tackle since the retirement of Hall-of-Fame tackle Jonathan Ogden. Seeing what the Ravens have already invested into Monroe, it is highly unlikely that they will let him walk in free agency and he was the best player on the offensive line this season.
Chance of Return: 90 percent

OT Michael Oher
At the other tackle is Oher who was a first round pick in 2009. He was expected to be the Ravens replacement for Ogden, but je never played well enough and was moved to the right side of the line. He has been plagued by penalties in his five years in Baltimore. It is likely that the Ravens move on from him as they need to invest in Monroe, who is a better player and plays a more important position. Also, it just seems like it is time for him and the Ravens to part ways. Even if the Ravens wanted re-sign him, another team would probably pay him more than the Ravens would want to pay.
Chance of Return: 10 percent

TE Dennis Pitta
Priority number two for the Ravens this offseason should be Pitta. He is quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite target on the field and best friend off the field. This season, he dislocated and fractured his hip in training camp, but was able to return for the last four games of the season where he caught 20 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown. A reliable chain-mover who works the underneath very well. He has become Flacco’s security blanket and with the Ravens giving Flacco a massive contract last offseason, the Ravens need to prioritize helping him out, which means signing Monroe and Pitta to long term deals.
Chance of Return: 80 percent

RB Bernard Scott
Signed to a contract during the season, Scott only saw action in two games — the last two of the season — and one of those games was in garbage time when the Ravens had already lost. In these two games, he had four rushes for 14 yards and two catches for 10 yards. The former Cincinnati Bengal could return, but my guess is the Ravens bring in a younger option than the soon to be 30-year old Scott and one who can contribute on specials teams.
Chance of Return: 35 percent

LB Daryl Smith
Due to his great performance this season, I gave Smith the Ravens’ Defensive Player of the Year award. Replacing Ray Lewis at middle linebacker, Smith had a career year with 123 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles, three interceptions, 19 passes defended and one touchdown. All of these expect the forced fumbles were career-highs. He was at his best in pass coverage and rushing the passer while struggling in run defense. His age (32 at the start of next season) will likely keep him form getting a big contract.
Chance of Return: 60 percent

WR Brandon Stokley
After suffering a season-ending concussion against the Minnesota Vikings in week 15, Stokley announced his retirement. This puts an end to his 15 year career that saw him play for five different teams — including five with the Ravens (first four seasons and this season, his last). The Ravens drafted him in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft and he scored the first touchdown of Super Bowl XXXV on a 38-yard pass.
Chance of Return: none (retirement)

Restricted Free Agents (RFAs)

WR Tandon Doss
Cut by the Ravens after training camp, he was re-signed after Jones suffered a knee injury in week one. With Jones injured, Doss took over the punt returning duties and rewarded the Ravens with 23 returns for 359 yards (league-leading 15.6 yards per return) and one touchdown (a gain of 82 in week three against Houston). On offense, he had 19 catches for 305 yards and was active in all 15 games that he was on the team for. Assuming that Jones leaves in free agency, Doss is likely to take over the job of returning punts. He has also shown flashes of being a good receiver. Expect the Ravens to give him an original round tender (fourth round). Another possibility would be to sign him to a long-term contract that would be cheaper than the tender.
Chance of Return: 85 percent

LB Albert McClellan
A versatile linebacker — he can play both inside and outside linebacker in the Ravens’ 3-4 scheme — and a key special teams player, McClellan is an underrated player for the Ravens. He recorded 12 tackles this season and has shown decent ability as a linebacker. Expect the Ravens to place an original round tender on him. Being an undrafted free agent, the Ravens wouldn’t receive draft pick compensation for him, but it is highly unlikely that he leaves. Another possibility is signing him to a long-term contract.
Chance of Return: 90 percent

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFAs)

S Omar Brown
After spending part of the season on the practice squad, he was signed to the active roster before week nine. Despite being on the active roster from week nine to the end of the season, he never really saw playing time and was only active for one game. It would cost the Ravens $570,000 to sign him and because of the Rule of 51 (only the top 51 contracts count during the offseason), his contract likely won’t impact the Ravens’ cap room. The Ravens have a history of retaining their ERFAs so expect him and the other RFAs back.
Chance of Return: 100 percent

LB D.J. Bryant
The least likely ERFA to return is Bryant. He suffered a left leg/knee injury during the Ravens final preseason game that caused him to be placed on injured reserve and miss the entire season. Despite this injury though, expect the Ravens to extend the $420,000 tender that it would take to sign him so they can see what he can do in training camp where he will fight for a spot on the roster like most of the ERFAs.
Chance of Return: 90 percent

LB Josh Bynes
As a part-time starter this season (six starts), Bynes recorded 45 tackles from his middle linebacker position. He was part of a three-man rotation at the Ravens’ middle linebacker position next to Smith. This is the second-straight season that saw him spend some time as a starter. He struggled in pass coverage this season, but he is a good special teams player (he made the final tackle in Super Bowl XLVII) and a decent linebacker. He is a lock to be back with the Ravens on his $570,000 tender.
Chance of Return: 100 percent

LB Adrian Hamilton
Like Bryant, Hamilton suffered a injury (wrist) in preseason that saw him be placed on injured reserve. The outside linebacker has shown potential as a pass rusher and showed improvements as a run defender this season in the preseason. His tender is worth $495,000 and is likely to be back this season and make a push at the crowded outside linebacker position.
Chance of Return: 95 percent

S Anthony Levine
Playing special teams all season, Levine recorded 11 tackles this season while being active in all 16 games due to his skills on special teams. He was at his best against the New York Jets and Detroit Lions where he had three tackles in each game. Special teams players are some of the most undervalued players in the league. He will be back on a $495,000 tender.
Chance of Return: 100 percent

Brynden Trawick
Similar to Brown, Trawick was signed to the active roster before week nine. Prior to that though, he was on the roster for the first three games of the season before being cut and signed to the practice squad. In week one he accidentally ran into Jones, causing his knee injury that forced him to miss four weeks. In his eight games that he played, he recorded eight tackles. Having contributed this season, he will be back next season on a $495,000 tender.
Chance of Return: 100 percent

Related Articles

Look for Baltimore Ravens to add secondary help in upcoming draft

That saying you grew up with, “lightning never strikes twice in the same place,” is bogus. Totally false.…

Read More about Look for Baltimore Ravens to add secondary help in upcoming draft

A writer for the Baltimore Ravens' website paints a sobering picture when it comes to the team's needs…

Read More about