The first week of the “new” NFL league year has left the league in turned upside down. This has been one of the more exciting starts to an off-season in quite some time. Teams are trading their star players left and right, players are returning to their previous franchises’ and of course millions of dollars are being thrown like monopoly money.
Certain teams have used this off-season to show the rest of the league they are ready to throw everything on the table to win the Lombardi right now (like the Bills, Chiefs and Eagles),while some try to make do with what they have and build towards the future at the moment.
This is something the Baltimore Ravens have been doing for years under General Manager Ozzie Newsome and its been working. This off-season has been no different…
For the Ravens, this off-season has been a little bit smoother than the last year’s. The team lost the “original raven” in Ray Lewis to retirement, they traded away the play-off warrior founded in Anquan Boldin, they were coming off an 8-8 record, missed the playoffs for the first time under John Harbaugh, the Ray Rice scandal was all the nation was taking about and it seemed the team, as a whole, took a few step backwards. Of course the move to acquire Steve Smith from the Carolina Panthers really saved what had been a terrible off-season.
This year, things weren’t as crazy, but the drama was still pretty present after loss to the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoff. The team thought they were keeping Gary Kubiak as their offensive coordinator, but he pulled the Ol’ Baltimore Colts/Mayflower stunt and headed to ELWAYLAND up in Denver (no hard feelings Gary). Then, we realized that we still have a good bit of dead money to deal with after cutting Rice during the season, which meant we had little cap space to make any moves (which was huge) and we might not be able to keep, possible any of the unrestricted free agents that were going to hit the market. Then, POOF…it’s March, and free agency is quickly approaching and a lot of money i needed, well that normal means cuts (i.e. Jacoby Jones,Terrance Cody and Chris Canty). Then we lose Torrey Smith to the 49ers (blow to the wide receiving core), then Pernell McPhee to the Bears (blow to the linebackers),then Owen Daniels to the Broncos (blow to an already weaken TE core), then as soon as the Free Agency doors open up…BOOM, Haloti Ngata is traded away to the Detroit Lions (huge blow to the D-Line and the defense altogether).
Obviously, something need to be done to make space for the team’s need and with some of those guys gone means there’s money to be spent:
- RB Justin Forsett (Three year deal/ $9 million)
- S Kendrick Lewis (Three year deal)
- CB Anthony Levine (Two year deal/ $2.2 million)
But that Ngata trade still kinda stings, but Ozzie knows what he is doing.
But, even with guys like NT Brandon Williams and DT Timmy Jernigan being very capable replacements for Ngata, they can’t truly replace a player like that, he is a one of a kind, though he was declining due to age and injury, we saw how much of an impact he was during the playoffs after being suspended for four games. Now fans want to know what the priority is now heading into the draft. Is the secondary still number (ranked 31st against the pass in 2014), is replacing Torrey Smith for a bigger wideout our biggest concern or is replacing that big hole left by Ngata now more important than anything else?
Let’s not forget, there are still plenty of qualified free agents out there right now to help replace some of the needs the Ravens now have (and the list keeps piling up), but how much money is Ozzie planning to use?
I don’t have the answers to a lot of these questions, it seems the mock draft for us keeps bouncing around from WR being our top concern to DL to DB. All I can say is IN OZZIE WE TRUST!