While the players are enjoying some down time before getting back to their conditioning grind, the Ravens brass is quietly making its moves to improve the team before offseason activities begin.
Here is a look at some key dates on the Ravens’ radar screen over the next few months:
Feb. 17: Teams can begin using franchise tag
The Ravens have 14 UFA’s heading into 2014 including TE Dallas Clark, NT Terrence Cody, TE Ed Dickson, CB Corey Graham, DT Arthur Jones, WR Jacoby Jones, S James Ihedigbo, S Jeromy Miles, OT Eugene Monroe, OT Michael Oher, TE Dennis Pitta, RB Bernard Scott, LB Daryl Smith and WR Brandon Stokley (has announced intention to retire). While it remains a mystery who if anyone will get the franchise tag in 2014, tight end Dennis Pitta (one-year franchise tag for tight ends is $6.7 million) or Eugene Monroe (projected one-year franchise tag for offensive linemen. $11,126,000) could be the likely targets.
Feb. 19-25, National NFL Scouting Combine
The Ravens personnel folks will be in Indianapolis in full force throughout the week. Ozzie & Co. will evaluate, meet and greet potential players who could be draft targets of the purple and black. One thing fans will want to keep an eye on will be the coin flip between Ravens and Dallas Cowboys to determine which team will receive the 16th or 17th pick in the draft.
March 3: Deadline to use franchise tag
The Ravens must use the franchise tag by the end of this deadline date or lose the ability to place the tag on anyone for 2014.
March 8: Teams can start negotiating with free agents
Players/agents are allowed to start negotiating with other teams starting March 8th. It is important to note however prior to this date, teams are not allowed to have any preliminary negotiations with prospective players or their agents. The Ravens have vowed to shore up their offensive line, secure a wide receiver who can “move the chains” as well as the need for a more athletic playmaker at the safety position. While the team isn’t in dire straits in salary cap space I would estimate them addressing at least two out of the three mentioned positions via free agency.
March 11: New league year, free agency begins
Let the chaos begin! Perhaps one of the wildest days during the offseason takes place at the 4 p.m. start time. The Ravens have been known to remain quiet on this day however this year could be a bit different. For the players it is a feeding frenzy as well. Many will make physical team visits as well as dinner with the teams’ head honchos, tours of the city, meet the owner, get a physical and/or talk Xs and Os with a coordinator. Teams don’t usually let the player leave the building without signing a new deal.
March 23-26: NFL Owner’s Meetings
The meetings fans love to hate. Owners, general managers and head coaches gather to discuss league issues as well as to vote on potential rule changes.
Some of the hot stove issues to be discussed and voted upon during these meetings could be the possibility of eliminating point-after-touchdown attempts (PATs) from the game as well as looking into expanded review for penalized hits. Both issues have to do specifically with player safety yet NFL Commish Roger Goodell seems to be pushing for a restructured playoff system featuring 14 teams instead of the current 12 team system by adding an additional wild-card team in each conference.
Another note of interest for fans at these meetings is the announcement of the number of compensatory picks each team has. As Russell Street Report’s Brian McFarland reported the Ravens are expected to receive four compensatory picks in the draft.
April 21: Voluntary offseason workouts may begin
Players can officially begin team conditioning. While not mandatory the Ravens usually have a high participation rate among veterans as well as younger players.
May 2: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets
This is the final date for the Ravens to sign players to offer sheets who are currently restricted free agents on other rosters. If the Ravens’ place tenders on their restricted free agents, then the players can wait until this date to sign it and see if they get offers from another team.
There are 3 RFA tenders (the 2011 CBA eliminated the “high” tender of 1st and 3rd round draft picks as compensation) per Brian McFarland:
- 1st Round Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of a 1st round – $3.023M
- 2nd Round Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of 2nd round pick – $2.124M
- Low Tender: allows the team to receive compensation of a draft pick equal to the round in which the player was originally drafted or the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) for an undrafted player – $1.389M
The Ravens have two restricted free agents in 2014: Wide Receiver Tandon Doss and Linebacker Albert McClellan.
May 8-10: NFL Draft
The NFL announced this year that the 2014 draft has been pushed back because of a scheduling conflict at Radio City Musical Hall. The Ravens will likely head into the draft in May with 8 draft picks. After trading their 4th and 5th round picks to Jacksonville for OT Eugene Monroe and their 7th to Indianapolis for Guard AQ Shipley, the Ravens will still have four of their own draft picks – their 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th – plus the 4 Comp picks.
As to who the Ravens will target in the draft I will leave that up to the guru’s as I am usually wrong so I don’t even bother with it.
Follow me on Twitter at sportguyRSR