Random Ravens’ Notes: Is Baltimore preparing to make a Free Agent move?

Battle Plans Random Ravens’ Notes: Is Baltimore preparing to make a Free Agent move?

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The Baltimore Ravens kicked off their free agency shopping spree by bringing in two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo in for a visit. The former Chicago Bear is among a handful of impact cover guys on special teams.
 
If the Ravens are able to sign Ayanbadejo to a contract, it could prove to be a preview of things to come. Given the team’s cap constraints, it appears that the organization will be looking to acquire players to bolster depth and the special teams unit.
 
Baltimore is one of the few teams in the league that stresses the importance of special teams. In the past, the front office has actively pursued some of the top specialists in the league. Two years ago, the Ravens locked up another Pro Bowl gunner in Gary Stills.
 
Obviously, with John Harbaugh in place as the head coach, the importance of establishing a strong special teams unit will be further emphasized…
 
It may be a blessing in disguise that the Ravens don’t have the cap funds to be a major player on the open market. This year’s free agent crop has proven to be the most over inflated group in NFL history.
 
Tommy Kelly and Gibril Wilson landed premium deals that included close to $40 million in guaranteed money alone from the Oakland Raiders. Tommy who? Kelly registered one sack last season, started in just seven games, and for his career, he has totaled a whopping 13 sacks. Those numbers don’t exactly evoke memories of Howie Long.
 
As for Wilson, the former New York Giant is a nice ballplayer, but is he really worth the same price as Troy Polamalu?
 
The Raiders are not the only franchise that has gone insane during the off-season spending spree.

Perhaps the most perplexing signing so far came when the New York Jets inked linebacker Calvin Pace to a six-year deal worth $42 million, with $22 million in guarantees.

 
Now, granted, Pace did finish the ‘07 season strongly, netting four sacks in his final four games as an Arizona Cardinal. He seemed to be a natural fit as an outside pass-rusher in the Cardinals’ 3-4 scheme and he got more comfortable in that role as the season progressed. But the fact is up until last season, Pace could have been labeled as a certified bust who sacked the quarterback just 7.5 times in four seasons and had started in only six games.
 
This would be the same Calvin Pace whom the Cardinals drafted at pick No.18 during the ‘03 draft as opposed to staying in the top five to select Terrell Suggs.
 
If Pace, a player who had been routinely criticized by analysts as being the wrong selection for the Cardinals, can earn $22 million in guaranteed money, how much can Suggs expect to earn on a long-term deal?
 
Amidst all of the crazy signings that have taken place, there have been a couple of shrewd moves made by clubs looking to upgrade their rosters.
 
Arizona replaced Pace with former Tennessee Titan Travis LaBoy. Like Pace, LaBoy has yet to put together a banner season, but he has been a steady starter for the Titans at defensive end. Unlike Pace, LaBoy did not cost an arm and a leg to sign. LaBoy’s contract is worth $22 million, with $7.5 million of that portion guaranteed.
 
The Bills were able to acquire linebacker Kevika Mitchell for a reasonable $17.5 million, which enabled them to spend more money on defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, who fell out of favor in Jacksonville…
 
Finally, the greatest Brett Favre moment that I will never forget was when No.4 carved up the ‘01 Ravens defense. Favre was flawless against a Baltimore defense that had yet to be cracked following a Super Bowl win in January.
 
Favre pierced the Ravens repeatedly on that Sunday; he threw for over 300 yards on 27 of 34 pass attempts. His performance was as brilliant as any I’ve seen a quarterback put together against a top-notch defense.
 
The retiring Packer will be missed in more ways than one.

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Dev Panchwagh

About Dev Panchwagh

Dev Panchwagh is a versatile analyst who breaks down the Xs and Os of the game and has been a columnist/analyst for Ravens24x7.com since the summer of 2004. In his regular season column Battle Plans, Dev highlights the Ravens' keys to success against each upcoming opponent. Dev started modestly as a sports journalist, but his contributions to sports talk radio were noticed, leading to duties as a regular columnist for the Scouts.com network before joining RSR.  It would be very difficult to find his rare combination of youthfulness, knowledge and insight in all facets of football anywhere else.  Fortunately, Dev brings it here each and every week.  More from Dev Panchwagh

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