5 Free Agents the Baltimore Ravens Should Re-Sign This Offseason
5 Free Agents The Baltimore Ravens Should Re-Sign
The Baltimore Ravens' 2013 season was nothing short of a let down after overcoming a spirited San Francisco 49ers team at Super Bowl XLVII last year. Unable to avoid the “Super Bowl hangover,” the Ravens posted a disappointing 8-8 regular season record; their worst since 2007.
Much of the Ravens' woes can be attributed to the vast overhaul experienced during the offseason last year following the triumph in New Orleans. A plethora of key starters and veteran players parted ways the the franchise with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Krueger and Dannell Ellerbe among them. Attempting to maintain a level of excellence during such transition is no easy task, and despite nearly stumbling into the playoffs with a four-game win streak late in the year, the task proved too difficult for John Harbaugh's men.
Of course, a lot of talent remains on the Ravens' roster. Joe Flacco is a competent quarterback, particularly in the playoffs, Ray Rice is still a solid running back despite having a difficult season this year, while receiver Torrey Smith and linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil continue to produce year after year.
The Ravens have 14 unrestricted free agents on their roster entering the 2014 offseason, many of whom have starting positions. The changes may not be quite as drastic when compared with last year, but the 2014 season will be an important one for a Ravens team trying to rebuild upon it's stable foundations. In order to prevent another season of turmoil, general manager Ozzie Newsome should re-sign these five would-be free agents over the next couple of months.
5. Eugene Monroe
Monroe was traded midway through the season from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for the Ravens’ fourth and fifth-round draft picks in the 2014 NFL Draft. Having signed a one-year deal with the franchise, Monroe’s level of performance this year warrants a longer contract this time around.
4. James Ihedigbo
Ihedigbo recorded 101 combined tackles, forced two fumbles and made three interceptions this season. In his seventh year in the league, 2013 was arguably the best of the 30-year-old's career and the Ravens should look to tie him down for at least one more season.
3. Dennis Pitta
A key contributor to last year’s Super Bowl win, tight end Dennis Pitta spent the majority of 2013 on the sidelines after suffering a fractured and dislocated hip during preseason. Despite playing just four games, Pitta caught 20 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. Provided he can stay healthy, the organization should offer the four-year Raven a new contract.
2. Jacoby Jones
Jones caught 37 passes for 455 yards and two touchdowns this season as a receiver and his ability to return kickoffs and punts makes him a valuable commodity in the NFL. He returned a combined 50 kicks this year and recorded one touchdown on a kickoff return. Provided Jones doesn’t receive a huge offer while testing the free-agency market, the Ravens should make every attempt to re-sign him for next year.
1. Daryl Smith
After a nine-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars, linebacker Daryl Smith joined the Ravens on a one-year deal last June and has performed fantastically. Leading the team with 123 combined tackles, Smith also recorded five sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. He is likely to receiver big offers for other teams, but the Ravens should fight to keep him on the roster.