With free agency looming, the Ravens have several of their own key free agents that they would like to lock up this off-season, but with the Ravens having over $20 Million in cap space, they could very well look to upgrade at a couple of key positions by landing a high-profile signing in the open market.
Here’s a look at three free agents that will most likely hit the open market on Tuesday and would represent big additions to the Purple & Black in their attempt to return to the playoffs in 2014:
C Brian De La Puente: After going undrafted in 2008 out of California, the 28-year-old (29 in May) spent the first three years of his career bouncing between practice squads in San Francisco, Kansas City, Seattle and Carolina before signing with the Saints in 2011, and that’s when the hard work and dedication from 6-3, 306 pound native of Los Angeles, California finally paid off. About halfway through the 2011 season, the Saints veteran C Olin Kruetz surprisingly retired and as a result, De La Puente was forced into the starting spot.
That move turned out to be a win for the Saints, as De La Puente went on to hold down the starting center spot for 44 straight games from 2011 to 2013. A model of consistency, the former Golden Bear was rated as PFF’s #2 Center in 2012 and has graded out positively in all three seasons as the Saints starting Center.
After Gino Gradkowski struggled mightily in 2013, one of the Ravens highest priorities has to be an upgrade at Center, and De La Puente could be just what the Ravens need in 2014.
S Stevie Brown: After recording 80 tackles (at strong side LB) as Michigan’s team captain during his Senior season in 2009, the 26-year-old (27 in July) was drafted in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders. After recording 30 tackles during his rookie season with the Raiders in 2010, the Columbus, Indiana native was cut the following preseason. Brown then played for the Panthers and the Colts in 2011 before joining the New York Giants in 2012.
The 6-0, 221 pound Brown then proceeded to replace Kenny Phillips at Free Safety for the G’Men early in 2012 and had an absolutely ridiculous season. The former Wolverine recorded 76 tackles, 2 FF and 8 interceptions (T-2nd in NFL) while returning the eight picks for a whopping 307 yards (led NFL).
In 2013, Brown tore his left ACL in an August preseason game against the Jets and missed the entire season. The Ravens have been very vocal about adding a playmaking free safety this off-season, and whether it is on a one-year ” prove it” deal or a multi-year deal with little guaranteed money (Due to the ACL injury), Brown would be a huge addition to the Ravens secondary while also letting 2nd year safety Matt Elam slide over to his more natural strong safety spot.
WR Julian Edelman: After throwing for 4,997 yards and 30 TD’s to go with 2,483 rushing yards and 22 TD’s as the Kent State Golden Eagles starting QB from 2006-2008, the 27-year-old (28 in May) was drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. The 5-10, 198 pound native of Redwood City, California then switched to receiver and punt returner in the NFL and served as the back-up slot WR to Wes Welker for his first four years while excelling as a punt returner before breaking out with a huge season in 2013. Edelman reeled in 105 receptions (4th in NFL) for 1,056 yards to go along with 6 TD’s, while proving his worth as a stellar slot WR.
Not only would Edelman be a terrific weapon for Joe Flacco in the passing game, he would be a huge asset in the return game as well, especially if the Ravens lose Jacoby Jones. The California native has racked up 1,317 punt return yards on 107 attempts (12.3 avg.) with 3 TD’s.
Obviously the Ravens won’t get all three of these great players, but which one out of the three would you want the Ravens to go after the most?
Let’s hear your opinion Ravens nation!