Key Additions: Steve Smith ($3.5M per year), Jeremy Zuttah ($3M), Darian Stewart ($1.3M), Owen Daniels ($1M)
Key Re-Signings: Eugene Monroe ($7.5M per year), Daryl Smith ($3.4M), Jacoby Jones ($3M)
Key Losses: Art Jones (Colts),Michael Oher (Titans), Corey Graham (Bills), James Ihedigbo (Lions),
Major Cuts: Vonta Leach ($1.8M cap savings)
Free Agency Thoughts:
The Ravens had their usual offseason with some key re-signings and bringing in new faces that were somewhat on the outskirts of free agency. The big move was keeping LT Eugene Monroe, which was a necessity. While his guarantee compares favorably with that of Will Beatty and Sam Baker, who both signed last season, I felt it pushed a little high for the Ravens especially in light of giving him a large signing bonus. That said losing him would have been a disaster.
The signing of Steve Smith, released by the Panthers, should help improve the Ravens offense. As long as Smith accepts the role of number two they can get good value for the price. Smith has performed at a better level than his salary but his earning potential is compromised by his age. The Ravens need for a wide receiver at a lower cost made him a perfect fit.
Re-signing Daryl Smith was also a given. He played an important role for the defense last season and the contract is certainly nothing that is going to significantly hurt the team in the future. Linebackers can be effective in many ways for a long time and if you can get a good price on one they are rarely contracts that will be regretted later on.
The acquisition of Jeremy Zuttah and signing of Owen Daniels could both be good moves for the team. I especially like the Daniels signing. Daniels is always an injury risk, but a very capable player when healthy. Both should improve the offense.
Arthur Jones was the biggest loss on defense but they have the personnel to absorb that loss better than they would have losing Monroe. Once the Colts get involved on a player it will be difficult for a team with cap constraints to match. Michael Oher’s time was done in Baltimore and he received a very generous contract from the Tennessee Titans. The biggest loss might be James Ihedigbo who did not sign a big contract in Detroit. The Ravens got the one year deal that perhaps they wanted with Darian Stewart rather than a two year deal Ihedigbo was seeking, but I thought Ihedigbo was a solid player for the team.
Overall Grade: B-
The Ravens are rarely going to hit a home run in free agency because their strategy is to almost exclusively avoid unrestricted free agents and to let players go if they deem the anticipated draft compensation enough. Given their self imposed constraints they did well for themselves in helping to improve the offense and give QB Joe Flacco as much help as possible to live up to the lofty contract he signed in 2013. I do think the Ravens rely a little too much on the signing bonus, but that is the way they have done business for years and been relatively successful with it. With the cap issues they have I am not sure if there was another way to do things anyway. The bottom line is they kept who they needed to keep and got slightly better at a few spots with some upside to be much better if they all work out.