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15 players the Ravens should target in Free Agency

PHOTO CREDIT: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
15 players the Ravens should target in Free Agency

 

The Ravens are near the bottom in the league in available cap space at 28th overall in the NFL currently. Only ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, and Dallas Cowboys according to Spotrac. Baltimore has just $15,254,325  in cap space, while also carrying $5.4 million in dead money which is fourth most in the NFL. The low salary cap number combined with a lot of dead money will severely limit Baltimore’s flexibility this offseason in free agency while trying to keep their own top unrestricted free agents like Rick Wagner, Brandon Williams, C.J. Mosley and Kyle Juszczyk. Baltimore has needs at right tackle, wide receiver, center, and corner, while adding a pass rusher is also an option via free agency or through the draft.

Here are 15 targets the Ravens should go after, ranked in order of highest to lowest priority.

PHOTO CREDIT: Joe Amon/Getty Images

STEPHON GILMORE, 27 – The defensive backs struggled whenever Jimmy Smith went down last season, teams noticed the lack of depth at the position and took advantage. Gilmore, who is a hard-hitting cornerback could go right alongside Jimmy Smith. He would be an instant impact on defense and could step up and be a #1 corner if Smith were to get injured.

CHRIS CHESTER, 34 – Since 2011, Chester has started all 16 games each season, showing that he is a reliable player. This is something the Raven’s offensive line could use after injuries plagued the unit last season, it would be a homecoming for Chester who spent five seasons in Baltimore after being a 2nd round pick in the 2006 draft.

PIERRE GARCON, 30 – Garcon is a fine receiver with great hands who hasn’t missed a game since 2012, recording at least 750 receiving yards in 7 of the last 8 seasons and has at least 68 receptions each of the last 4 years. He has shown the ability to be a #1 option, which would be good for Joe Flacco while the development of Breshaud Perriman continues.

VICTOR CRUZ, 30 – After being cut by the New York Giants earlier this week to make some cap space, Cruz hits the market after he caught just 39 catches in 2016 and lost his job to rookie Sterling Shepard. He would be a cheaper option compared to a free-agent like Desean Jackson and could be brought in on a 1-year deal as a third option who needs to prove he can still be effective.

NOLAN CAROLL III, 30 – Carroll did not have a great season in 2016 and was under constant criticism as the team’s #1 cornerback. He has tallied only 1 interception in the last 3 seasons ,but has 55+ tackles in each of the last 2 seasons. The Ravens would only need him to be the 2nd or 3rd corner on the depth chart, there are many pros to this signing including being a good tackler, his contract being on the cheap side of things wouldn’t hurt either.

MARSHAL NEWHOUSE, 28 – Lacking depth at the tackle position was a problem for the Ravens last season and if even if they were to resign Rick Wagner it would be good to have a solid backup at the position. Newhouse, when healthy is a solid lineman and could provide great depth.

J.C. TRETTER, 26 – With Jeremy Zuttah’s poor play last season the Ravens are on the look for a new center. Tretter is a young athletic center who blocks better in the passing game rather than the run game, which Joe Flacco needs. The only concern would be his injury history which he is coming off knee surgery this past season where he started the first seven games. If Tretter could stay healthy, he has an amazing upside that would come at a cheap price. Low risk, high reward.

DRE KIRKPATRICK, 27 – Kirkpatrick is a playmaking corner who is also a reliable tackler and is a solid fit for the Ravens scheme. According to Pro Football Focus, Kirkpatrick was targeted 83 times and allowed 49 catches for 491 yards with just two touchdowns when targeted. He has the ability to make plays both in zone and man coverage which would go good next to Jimmy Smith. That would also give Baltimore another DB with impressive size.

LOGAN RYAN, 26 – A  physical cornerback who will play the run and make an impact is what the Ravens need next to Jimmy Smith. If let go by the Patriots, Ryan should be atop the list of free agents for the right price.  Ryan has 13 interceptions in four NFL seasons. Last year he recorded a career-high 92 tackles, one sack, 11 pass deflections, two interceptions and one forced fumble.

AUSTIN PASZTOR, 27 –  Pasztor has a ton of experience as both a full-time starter (43 starts) and as a primary backup,  he has played right tackle and both guard slots. This versatility is something the Ravens could use on the line, even though he has limitations in pass protection. He was highly effective working double-team and combo blocks with his guard, so fitting him next to Marshall Yanda would be a good fit.

PHOTO CREDIT: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

DARIUS BUTLER, 30 – Butler makes a good target for the Ravens because of his versatility. His natural position is at cornerback, but he also played at the safety position last season. The Ravens could play Butler next Eric Weddle in the secondary  and even insert him in as a corner if need be.

MICHAEL WILHOITE, 30 – Wilhoite is a former safety who bulked up to play inside linebacker and has toiled as a backup for years. He’s a good tackler, but he offers little as a pass-rusher and is only marginal in run support. Where Wilhoite excels is as a zone defender who can drop and read a quarterback’s eyes, place him in certain packages with Terell Suggs and C.J. Mosley this would be a cost-effective acquisition.

SEBASTIAN VOLLMER, 32  – With James Hurst and Ryan Jensen both likely gone in free agency they another need another swing tackle. Bringing Vollmer in as a free-agent wouldn’t be a bad idea. He’s a solid reserve who can also swing to left tackle, but he is coming off injuries and spent the entire 2016 season on IR for the champion New England Patriots.

MELVIN INGRAM, 27 – Ingram is a pass rusher who can drop into coverage.  The outside linebacker plays the run well, but  often misses tackles. Melvin tallied 60 tackles, eight sacks, five pass deflections and four forced fumbles in 2016. He has dealt with injuries in the past, between 2013 and 2014 he appeared in just 13 games, recording four sacks in nine games in 2014.

ANQUAN BOLDIN, 36 – Boldin told reporters he has not determined if he’ll return for a 15th NFL season in 2017. He led the Lions with eight touchdown receptions this season and finished the year with 67 catches for 584 yards. Bringing him as 2nd or 3rd option, and  reuniting him with Joe Flacco could give the Ravens offense a sure-handed receiver and a veteran a vocal leader  with Steve smiths retirement.

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