The Baltimore Ravens have completed an improbable and impressive run to become champs and their victory over the San Francisco 49ers was a great game that was one for the books, but I do think the Ravens may be one-and-done as champs (perhaps even as AFC champs & AFC North champs). The Niners have a massive future, but the champs are going to look massively different going forward.
Their heart and sole Ray Lewis is done, and other important defenders like Ed Reed, Ma’ake Kemoeatu, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Cary Williams are up for grabs. Finances will surely lead to the departure of Reed, and Williams is looking for a huge payday. Ellerbe and Kruger had breakout seasons and either would be highly sought if they left the Ravens.
On offense their two talented tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are each restricted free agents, and veteran Bryant McKinnie is a free agent, but the big big big one is Joe Flacco. GM Ozzie Newsome is confident that a long-term deal will get done with Flacco, and even if talks do break down the Ravens are expected to apply their franchise tag to retain him at that point.
The Super Bowl MVP is looking for upwards of $20 million per season which would mean that Baltimore is sure to lose players and have a much different look in 2013. Lewis’ retirement will save the Ravens $4-$5 million next season depending if they defer any of the money owed to him in 2014, but they will still need to let several of their own players walk.
These decisions are for another day as it is celebration time for the Ravens and their fans, congratulations all around!