Now that the glory of Super Bowl XLVII is in the rear view mirror for the Baltimore Ravens franchise, the ominous task of trying to do it all over again faces the club’s general manager Ozzie Newsome. He and his fellow front office cohorts will have to make several important decisions this offseason to get the team in better health as far as the salary cap is concerned. With Joe Flacco’s impending contract situation, that may be easier said than done.
While no one in their right mind expects the perils of the salary cap to impact Flacco coming back to Baltimore in 2013, some do expect that his eventual re-signing will force the team to part ways with some awfully important veteran names during the off-season. We are already aware of the fact that veteran leader Ray Lewis is now unofficially retired from the NFL, but other veterans on this Super Bowl winning squad may be elsewhere in 2013 too.
First and foremost, safety Ed Reed (in my opinion the best safety of all-time) is a free agent this off-season, and he will likely command a hefty dime if he does choose to continue his career. Reed has waffled on retirement for the past two off-seasons and perhaps finally getting his ring will convince the veteran to hang up the cleats. He has shown that he is still at the top of his game as evidenced by his interception during the big game, but if it comes down to wearing a different uniform or watching the games from home, maybe Reed chooses the latter.
One name that has been floated out there as a potential salary cap casualty for the team this off-season is wide receiver Anquan Boldin. His hands are some of the strongest in the league and if it was life or death on any receiver to make a tough catch in traffic over the middle of the field, my money (or life) is on Boldin. The cap number for Bolin in 2013 is scheduled for the same as his past two years in Baltimore at $7.5 million and change. If it comes down to getting the long-term deal with Flacco done or keeping Boldin, expect the veteran wideout to be packing his bags.
Perhaps the most overlooked player in all of this talk is pass rusher Paul Kruger who had quite a breakout year in 2012. Kruger’s 9.5 sacks are likely to command some serious attention on the open market as he and Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer are two very similar players set to hit free agency. Spencer was franchise tagged at $8.56 million in 2012, but that option isn’t available to Baltimore who needs immediate cap relief. As one of the top two players at his position set to be a free agent, Kruger may very well wind up elsewhere in 2013.
This deconstruction period hits every team hard that is coming off of a championship. 31 teams around the league see key pieces from the franchise that is envied by all of them and pony up large amounts of cash in pursuit of that same glory. The Ravens of 2013 are likely to look a lot different than the Super Bowl winning version of this past season, but that is the price you pay for reaching the pinnacle of the sport.