Baltimore Ravens Free Agent Focus: Paul Kruger
In a season that saw a huge dip in defensive pressure on the quarterback, it was one of the more unheralded players who stepped up became a difference maker for the Baltimore Ravens.
The versatile and at times dominant Paul Kruger started the season as just another player in his third season trying to find a regular spot on an NFL roster. Kruger did register 5.5 sacks last season so he showed glimpses of his skill, but he wasn’t expected to be a difference maker coming into this season.
Kruger had a decent start to the season, but nothing spectacular. However, once Ray Lewis was lost for the regular season in Week 6, Kruger elevated his game when given more playing time.
After the Lewis injury, Kruger went on to register 7.5 of his team leading 9.5 sacks, while also registering a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and an interception. Kruger was the only member of the Ravens’ defense to hit each of those columns on the stat sheet, truly showing his versatility.
Kruger built upon his breakout regular season with a stellar postseason, as he was one of the defensive leaders en route to the Lombardi Trophy. Kruger forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, and led the league with 4.5 sacks during the playoffs, so his huge impact continued there.
His speed rush and athleticism have made him a very attractive free agent, as he will be entering his fourth season. His value to the Ravens will be extremely high since they have lost Lewis to his retirement, and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is also an unrestricted free agent.
Thus, with the linebacking corp in a major transition period, re-signing Kruger would bring stability to a suddenly thin area of the defense. When you consider his role on the team and how he is just entering his prime, locking up Kruger will be a top priority to help replace Lewis and stabilize the linebacking unit.
Follow James on Twitter @JT3Sticks