Just over 3 months ago, the Baltimore Ravens were hoisting the Lombardi trophy as Super Bowl Champions. A few weeks later the sky fell on Baltimore as they lost 8 starters. The NFL and Baltimore fans all thought that was it. The Ravens were having a fire-sale and were done. They could never recover from their loses.
Now that some time has passed, we can take a step back and look at the Ravens off-season plan as a whole. See, the problem with all the criticism a month after the Super Bowl is that things didn’t have time to play out yet. When you navigate a road map, you have all sorts of twists and turns to go through before you get to your destination. Judging an off-season before Free Agency, the Draft, and the second round of Free Agency is like counting your chickens before they hatch. You have to let plan play all the way out.
Let’s look at this. The Ravens lost: Paul Kruger (who signed for $40 million), Dannell Ellerbe (who signed for $35 million), Ed Reed (who wanted $6 million), Anquan Boldin (who had a $7 million cap number), Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Bernard Pollard. They also lost Ray Lewis and Matt Birk to retirement. Yes, they are significant loses, but for the amount of money they were looking at, it was not realistic to think you could keep them all. But when Baltimore lost them, you’d thought the world was ending.
But now we know the Ravens have the best front office in all of football (just ask Jason La Confora). They had a plan and it’s playing out better than even they could have expected.
In essence, the Ravens swapped Ellerbe for Elvis Dumervil (same money). I call that an upgrade. They swapped Reed for Michael Huff (a good swap for the money and age). Then they got Marcus Spears and Chris Canty and saved $40 million. I like all those upgrades.
But that’s not it. You have to continue to let the plan play out. The Ravens have the best draft department in football. At least 5 of their draft picks I see as making significant impacts. Matt Elam, Arthur Brown, Brandon Williams and John Simon can all make a big impact this year. And I like the potential of Aaron Mellette, not to mention a number of other under-the-radar guys who could have an impact.
With the exception of Boldin, I think the Ravens have upgraded every player they lost, while saving a ton of money. I know that Wide Receiver is still a major issue for many Ravens fans, but once again, the plan is not complete. There is another round of veteran cuts that will be made later this summer. That’s how the Ravens got Jacoby Jones. I truly believe Ozzie Newsome has an eye on the other teams rosters knowing that a quality WR will become available that the Ravens will pick up.
And if they don’t get a WR, I would be just fine with using Dennis Pitta as a slot receiver to catch the balls over the middle that Boldin did.
The Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl Champions and although a lot of big names are gone, I believe that the team is better now than the one that won in New Orleans back on February 3, 2013.