As they did in 2013, the Ravens will be forced to make some difficult roster decisions this offseason to create cap space if they plan to participate in the free agent market. Veterans like Sam Koch, Vonta Leach and Jameel McClain look vulnerable at this time and there is also the possibility that the Ravens could extend players like Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb to create more space.
Ozzie Newsome & Co. will have their work cut out for them and they may be forced to look for basement bargains to augment their roster. Here are a few players the Ravens might consider:
WR Andre Roberts (2013 Salary-$1.5 Million)– Coming into 2013, the Arizona Cardinals held high hopes that Roberts could have a dominant campaign with Bruce Arians at the helm, due to the success of Arians previous slot WR’s ( T.Y Hilton in 2012, Antonio Brown in 2011). The 26-year-old didn’t exactly live up to expectations, but still recorded 43 catches for 471 yards and 2 TD’s and totaled 182 catches for 2,123 yards (11.7 avg) with 11 TD’s in his four years in the desert.
Along with a solid speed/hands combo, the 5-11, 195 pound Roberts is a great route runner with excellent open field vision and has the ability to make plays after the catch. Above all else, Roberts plays and excels in the slot, and the Ravens will be looking to add that to their offense in 2014.
TE Andrew Quarless (2013 Salary- $1.3 Million)- After tearing his ACL and MCL in December of 2011 and missing all of the 2012 season, 6-4, 252 pound Quarless came back to the Green Bay Packers in 2013 and flashed his true potential after starting TE Jermichael Finley was lost for the season in week 7. The 25-year-old (26 in October) set career highs in catches (32), yards (312) and TD’s (2), while being rock solid in the blocking game.
He proved he was back to being 100% healthy in 2013, and his character concerns (2 DUI’s in 07-08 while at Penn State) have been washed away for some time now. With that being said, Quarless still has a very high upside. The Brooklyn, New York native is a great athlete with solid speed and hands and can stretch the defense in the passing game. With Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson both hitting free agency, TE is definitely a need for the Ravens this off-season.
DL Ropati Pitoitua (2013 Salary- $1 Million)– The 28-year-old (29 in April) native of Samoa was once thought to be a potential undrafted gem out of Washington State as a member of the New York Jets, but after an Achilles injury cost him all of 2010 and being used as a rotational D-lineman in 2011 (19 tackles, 1 sack), the Jets cut their ties with the 6-8, 298 pound Pitoitua. However, it was in 2012 with the Kansas City Chiefs when things started to click for Pitoitua, as he had a solid season and ended the year with 51 tackles and 2 sacks before joining the Tennessee Titans in 2013 and having a breakout year, totaling 44 tackles and 4 sacks as a starter.
To go along with his great size, the 28-year-old is very versatile as he can play on the inside and the outside and is a great run-stopper. Pitoitua lacks quickness and agility on the D-line, but he can provide some pass-rush and he uses his long arms to get in the passing lanes. The Ravens will most likely lose DL Arthur Jones and NT Terrence Cody in free agency, so the Ravens don’t have to cut Chris Canty ($3.16 Million cap hit in 2014) for this move to make sense.
RT Eric Winston (2013 Salary-$1.25 Million)– After being a standout on the Houston Texans Offensive line from 2006-2011, the 30-year-old (31 in November) played for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012 before signing with the Arizona Cardinals for 2013. Winston struggled mightily at the start of the 2013 season, allowing five sacks in just five games but ended up turning his season around and was impressive the rest of the way, allowing just two sacks in the final 11 games of the season.
Entering his 9th year out of Miami, the 6-7, 302 pound Winston is a talented and durable veteran and is the definition of a rock solid RT, as he does well in run blocking and pass protection. The Midland, Texas native has been a starting RT since halfway through his rookie year (2006) and has made 119 straight starts with Houston, KC and Arizona from 2006-2013. With LT Eugene Monroe and RT Michael Oher both about to hit the open market, it’s clear that only one of them is back, and the general consensus is that the Ravens will make bringing Monroe back a priority. The Ravens might prefer Winston over Oher regardless. He’s a better player, and he’ll probably come at half of the price of Oher.
MLB Darryl Sharpton (2013 Salary-763 K)– A highly-touted LB prospect coming out of the ”U” in 2010, Sharpton was taken in the 4th round by the Houston Texans and was in line to become a major part of the Houston D before injuries took their toll on the 5-11, 235 native of El Portal, Florida. Sharpton missed four games his rookie year (Dislocated shoulder) and was limited to just 8 games in 2011 (Torn Quadriceps) and just 7 games in 2012 (Hip). Finally, in 2013, the 26-year-old was able to stay healthy and ended up starting the final nine games of the season after starting MLB Brian Cushing was lost of the season (Broken Fibula) and had a career year, recording 87 tackles.
The 26-year-old Sharpton is a good athlete along with being a sideline-to-sideline defender. He also plays with a high motor and is a hard hitter in the middle of the defense. He is below average in coverage, but is great at defending against the run and he can play MLB and OLB, while also taking 74 snaps on ST in 2013. Linebacker is an overlooked need of the Ravens this off-season due to Daryl Smith hitting free agency and Jameel McClain looking like a potential cap casualty.
Submitted by Logan Quick