Free Agent speculation on Ravens… by Ron Benamor

One of the biggest (no pun intended) questions around Baltimore these days is where will all-pro quality guard Ben Grubbs end up in 2012? Word is, probably not with the Ravens…

Ben Grubbs, G, 6-3, 310, in his 6th year out of Auburn, is an athletic guard with the ability to plow into the second level, and is largely responsible for much of the Ravens successful running game. He’s due a big Free Agent contract, but salary cap issues may mean the Ravens have to let Grubbs make his fortune with a new team…

Here’s our own staff writer Ron Benamor to describe the complete Free Agency scenario for the Ravens:

With all the crazy speculation surrounding the Baltimore Ravens this offseason, it has become apparent that Baltimore has many issues to address. Here is how I see each key free agent panning out, as well as other possible offseason acquisitions…

RB: Ray Rice:
It is becoming more and more likely that Baltimore will use the Franchise Tag on Ray Rice. To reassure all you skeptics, there is no doubt in my mind that Ray Rice has become the Ravens #1 priority this offseason. However, the potential long-term contract for QB Joe Flacco has restricted the money supply. The plan all along was to use the tag on Ben Grubbs and then sign Ray Rice to a long term deal. But that looks like it is no longer going to happen, as it is become more and more apparent that Grubbs will leave to pursue a bigger contract.

QB: Joe Flacco:
Bottom line…Joe Flacco is looking for a long- term deal. He has already said that he prefers to not wait another year and just get things done now. I truly believe that the Ravens will get a long-term contract done somewhere is the range of 5-6 years and 35 million guaranteed. 

OL: Ben Grubbs and Matt Birk:
It would be an utter surprise if Matt Birk returned to Baltimore. It looks like he will retire. It’s looking like even if he did not retire, he may not return to Baltimore. “I don’t believe it is a foregone conclusion that the Ravens bring him back even if Birk decides that he’d prefer to push back retirement another year,” wrote the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec, citing Newsome’s comment at the season-review presser that the team will add another center to the roster for next season. Baltimore may turn to either free agency or the draft to address a need at center. With regards to Grubbs, as stated before, I don’t think he will return. Without the franchise tag option, it is clear that he will demand to high of a contract and will likely pursue another team to get the money he deserves. Look for the Ravens to utilize either Andre Gurode or Jah Reid to fill the void.

OLB: Jarret Johnson:
As much as it pains me to say this, I don’t think JJ is going to be a Raven next year. Ravens have a history of letting aging defenders go (aside from HOF’s Reed and Lewis). In the past they have let go the likes of Bart Scott and Chris McCalister although they were still productive at the time. The Ravens as an organization like to invest in younger players.

DE: Cory Redding: In my opinion Redding is a guy that they have to keep. He wont demand much money, due to age, however he is productive and simply put, gets the job done. Jeff Seidel of the CSN Baltimore stated, “A player like Redding is very important to the Ravens,  he’s a veteran who gives the defense a steady presence, something they need since there’s a number of younger players there. Redding is different than some of the other big names on the team. The spotlight doesn’t find him, nor does he want it to. He’ll come in, do his job quietly and move on. That’s why Redding is the kind of person who leads by example — which is good for any team.” []If the Ravens can keep him for a few more years, not only will our defensive line stay solid, but also he will help polish young players like Pernell McPhee and Arthur Jones.

So now you may ask, who will the Ravens add?…Here are a list of a few players that I think may find their way to Baltimore:

1.Le’ron McClain:
with Ricky Williams gone, Ravens will need a new backup. Rice and McClain behind Vonta Leach would define a smash mouth running game.

2.Mike Wallace: It may be a long shot but if the Ravens have the slightest opportunity to get the speedy wide receiver, it’s worth a shot right? Not only would it improve the Ravens receiving corps greatly, but also would hurt the Ravens’ rival in Pittsburgh significantly.  Remember the Ravens aren’t a big offseason team. John Eisenberg sums it up perfectly here… “What the Ravens do in the offseason isn’t so exciting. They score in the draft’s nooks and crannies, the end of the first round, the second and third (and even later) rounds. They manage the cap, refraining from piling debt onto their credit card.They turn their lineup over in the places where they can get younger, plugging in young guys they’ve drafted and developed, with the occasional well-placed, mid-market free agent such as Vonta Leach or Bernard Pollard mixed in. They do indulge in the occasional splashy move. They actually traded for Terrell Owens once upon a time. They traded for Steve McNair, envisioning a Super Bowl run that almost happened. But mostly, they just hum along, rebuilding as they go.”Hey but its always good to dream, right? Mike Wallace, Anquan Boldin, and Torrey Smith… That would be one heck of a receiving corps.

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.