Reality: The Ravens have 13 Unrestricted Free Agents and two Restricted Free Agents.
Perception: There are two Unrestricted Free Agents that everyone is talking about… Eugene Monroe and Dennis Pitta. Yes, the Ravens need to do everything in their power to sign both of them to multi-year deals. But there are at least two other players that I think are a “must sign”… that’s James Ihedigbo and Daryl Smith. This defense has had so much turnover the past couple of years that they need some consistency. Ihedigbo and Smith were beasts and bring that much needed aggressive defensive mentality. And as much as I’d love to see Arthur Jones back with this team, I think he is going the way of Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, and other defensive players who made a huge payday by signing elsewhere after their rookie deals.
Reality: The Ravens have three main goals this offseason. Ozzie Newsome said the Ravens need to get bigger on the offensive line, add a tough receiver, and find an athletic free safety.
Perception: According to most of the mock drafts available, the receiver is on the top of the list, as nearly all have the Ravens taking a receiver or tight end in the first round. I think you’ll see them draft late-round offensive linemen for depth. But if they want to get better on the offensive line, then they are going to have to go out and get a veteran, whether by trade or by free agency. It’s more likely that they will look at a player who gets cut for salary cap reasons to help shore up their weak offensive line.
Reality: In addition to their four TBD supplemental picks, the Ravens have picks in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th rounds of the NFL draft in May.
Perception: As our Brian McFarland explained, the Ravens get four more compensatory picks from the league, giving them eight picks in the upcoming draft. With the amount of holes the Ravens will have to fill, that many picks should be useful. Their highest pick will be 16 or 17, depending on a coin flip with the Cowboys (which will happen later this month). That should be a quality pick that should be a starter next season. But don’t be surprised to see Ozzie Newsome trade down to gain a couple of picks. He has been known to do that. I could see them trading down to gain a few picks but then trading back up to get the player they really want. Most mock drafts have the Ravens selecting a Wide Receiver or a Tight End with their first pick.
Reality: The Baltimore Ravens have announced the hiring of Bobby Engram as their new wide receivers coach.
Perception: Engram is a former NFL wide receiver. He played 14 years in the league, with the Bears, the Seahawks, and the Chiefs. Since his playing career, he has been an offensive assistant with the 49ers and coached the receivers the last two seasons at the University of Pittsburgh. His on-field experience and recent coaching experience should be a good fit for the Ravens, who are now heavy on veteran coaches. Harbaugh has also completed his coaching staff for the 2014 season.