Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Some Ravens have played their final down in Baltimore




Like the spring every offseason spawns a new season and along with that newness comes change. NFL rosters generally churn and burn at the rate of 25% from one NFL calendar year to the next. Teams look to get younger and create value on their rosters in order to manage the cap effectively. As Steve Bisciotti once told us, “If I can get an Ed Dickson who performs at 80% of a Todd Heap but costs a fraction of what Heap does, I have to make that move.”

You can expect more of this heading into the 2012 season.

24x7’s cap expert Brian McFarland provides an excellent perspective on the Ravens current salary cap here and the picture he paints should provide clues to some roster augmentation. Here’s my take on some of the likely moves…

Offense

Unless Lee Evans takes a significant haircut on the pay scale, he’s as good as gone. His Super Bowl denying dropped pass in the AFC Championship Game aside, a No. 3 WR who Cam Cameron put on the field for all of 8 snaps in the Divisional Playoff Game against the Texans, cannot justify a mid 7 figure cap number. An intriguing possibility to replace Evans should the Ravens decide to keep another veteran presence in their corps of receivers is Reggie Wayne who like his battery mate Peyton Manning is expected to play somewhere other than Indianapolis in 2012. Wayne will be 33 when he takes the field next season but he may be willing to accept an incentive laden deal with the Ravens in exchange for the opportunity to play with his college roommate Ed Reed.

Word is Matt Birk’s Reisterstown home is on the market and the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year is leaning heavily towards retirement. Birk faded a bit late in the season and the Ravens could turn towards 5-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode for another season or two until they can groom a young, longer-term solution at center.

Staying with the offensive line, Ben Grubbs’ perceived value with the Ravens spiked this season. When he didn’t play the overall performance of the line dropped measurably and consequently he’s likely to price himself out of a job in Baltimore. Look for the Ravens to find a heady, tough Yanda-like player in the draft’s middle rounds.

Speaking of Yanda, it remains a bit of a head scratcher why he opted to play in the Pro Bowl given his injuries down the stretch. Maybe his wife bought a new grass skirt she was jonesing to sport at a Hawaiian luau. But then again, maybe Yanda realized that the physicality of the Pro Bowl these days is on par with that of pushing a shopping cart down aisle 6 at Mars Supermarkets.

Defense

There is little to no doubt in my mind that CB Domonique Foxworth is as good as gone unless of course he agrees to a HUGE cut in pay. Foxworth at the moment is probably the sixth best corner on the roster who will command a $5.6M salary in 2012 and a whopping $8.6M number against the cap. His signing may go down as one of the worst in club history.

Ahead of Foxworth on the depth chart is another veteran who is likely to feel the cutting blade of the salary cap – Chris Carr. Carr, traditionally a late starter, isn’t the playmaker that the developing young and inexpensive Danny Gorrer is. The No. 25 jersey will probably be emblazoned with a new name across the back in 2012 for the Ravens.

Brendon Ayanbadejo will be 36 on Opening Day 2012 and if he continues his career, it won’t be in Baltimore. If he does come back it will be a daunting statement on the quality of depth at inside linebacker. And the truth be told, he really wasn’t a very productive special teams player in 2011 – his forte.

2 comments :

ravcolt said...

Using Bisciotti's logic (which I basically agree with) Ed Reed should be toast next year also. The way Reed played, finding his 80% equivalent only means to locate the nearest rock and take a peek underneath.

Jerry B said...

Of the names highlighted, only Grubbs loss would be significant if for no other reason than the OL really struggled without him and they already need to improve in that department even IF they are able to retain him. So, his loss would only compound the existing problem. As for the annual turnover, the NFL has become somewhat akin to college football in the perennial need to re-load, with the draft and free agency mirroring the recuriting in the college ranks......