Which Remaining Free Agents Could Help the Ravens?

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In 67 days the Ravens will begin their 2014 training camp.

John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco and the rest of the 2008 first-year Ravens will begin their seventh NFL season with the club. Although training camp is over nine weeks away, mini-camp and practice time is quite limited (per Article 23, Section 6 of the 2011 NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement).

The clock is ticking.

As you may have heard, the Ravens haven’t taken it easy since the draft ended. Baltimore has signed 17 undrafted free agents since then. Still there are players out there whose resume indicates they’d be able to help the Ravens get back to winning football in 2014.

Who are those players? What can the Ravens afford? In the event they bring in a veteran, will that help or hurt the development of younger players at that position?

At each level of their defense, the Ravens have enough players to mold a winning unit. They might want to add a cornerback, though, simply because of how pass-heavy the league is.

Mostly it looks like Baltimore should add offensive line depth. Not to detract from Marshal Yanda, Kelechi Osemele or Eugene Monroe, but they need help. They need an insurance policy, as it were. It seems like Jeremy Zuttah will start at center and John Urschel will be groomed as his successor. If Joe Flacco wasn’t so incredibly durable, quarterback would certainly make the list, too.

As far as running backs go, I’d list that as a need as well, except for the fact that I think the Ravens have one (or two) roster spots in mind between the trio of Justin Forsett, Cierre Wood and Lorenzo Taliaferro.

So guard, tackle and cornerback are positions in which, if a player is found at the right price, the Ravens ought to make an addition.

According to RSR’s Brian McFarland, the Ravens have a current estimated salary cap budget of $6,015,653. While that does account for draft picks, there’s still a certain amount of the cap teams like to reserve in the event of an in-season injury. Usually teams have about $2 million or so stashed away for such a situation.

For the sake of discussion, let’s say the Ravens have $4 million left with which to sign free agents. First, they wouldn’t spend that money on one player, because at this stage in the process, the players that garner that type of money for one year are usually already signed. Second, and more importantly, teams can rollover cap space from one year to the next, provided they submit written notice, signed by the owner, by the date which is two weeks before the beginning of the next league year.

In other words, why would they spend the money if they don’t need to?

Assuming the Ravens do want to make some additions, here are two players that could fit their scheme and their budget.

Travelle Wharton, Guard, Carolina Panthers

Height: 6’4″

Weight: 315 pounds

Age/NFL experience: 32/11th season

2013 cap hit: $1.1 million

2013 Pro Football Focus grade: 20.5

Why Ravens should sign him: Travelle Wharton has started 111 of the 115 NFL games in which he’s played. In most of those games Wharton has played left guard. In the event Osemele gets hurt again or the Ravens want to play Osemele at right tackle, signing Wharton would provide seamless flexibility.

He was the highest-rated free agent guard in the NFL last year. In fact, among the top 16 free agent guards that played the most snaps, one of them had a positive grade last season: Wharton (851 snaps).

While most of his experience is at left guard, Wharton also has experience playing left tackle. That would help Monroe’s development as well as give the team depth at the position.

Drayton Florence, Cornerback, Carolina Panthers

Height: 6’0″

Weight: 200 pounds

Age/NFL experience: 33/12th season

2013 cap hit: $489,706

2013 Pro Football Focus grade: 7.2

Why Ravens should sign him: If you thought Corey Graham played well last year, you should’ve seen Drayton Florence. According to PFF, Graham was the 17th best free agent cornerback in 2013, earning a grade of 4.0. Florence was awarded a much higher grade of 7.2.

Florence also helped the Panthers achieve elite marks defensively. Carolina’s defense finished 2013 ranked 6th in passing (214.3 yards per game), 2nd in scoring (15.1 points per game) and 2nd overall (301.2 yards per game). Granted, Florence only started five games last year, but the Ravens won’t need him to be a starter. They’d want him to be their third or fourth cornerback, depending on the maturation of Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson.

In 2013, Florence defensed nine passes. He also made two interceptions, and turned one of those into a 38-yard touchdown.

Last year, on average, the top five free agent cornerbacks (Darrelle Revis, Brent Grimes, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Harris, Jr.) intercepted one pass for every 467 snaps they played. Florence intercepted one pass for every 300 snaps he played.

He has a fair amount of “mileage on the tires,” but Florence can still play well. What’s more encouraging for a player of his age is that he doesn’t get injured often.

Even if the Ravens signed both of these players at double the amount of their total cap hit last year, the bill would total less than $3.2 million. With over $6M in current cap space, you have to think this would be a win/win for both the players and the Ravens organization.

Which one of these statements best describes your thoughts on potential free agents for the Ravens?
Sign Travelle Wharton (6%)
Sign Drayton Florence (22%)
Sign Both (44%)
Sign neither and wait to see if better players are released by other teams (28%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.
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About Mike Fast

Mike Fast
I was born and raised in Baltimore. But after a year at York College of Pennsylvania, I transferred to Towson University. At York and Towson, I hosted various radio shows, wrote for the school paper, spoke on a panel RE: college game day presentation at IBS conference in Manhattan and...more

8 Raves on “Which Remaining Free Agents Could Help the Ravens?

  1. J on said:

    I like those 2 names. I think Andre Johnson trade would be the Anquan Boldin Super Bowl winning move that puts us over the top. That should be done, he is frustrated in Houston and wants out since they are changing offenses and QB once again. Why not bring a bonefied HOF no.1 WR over to Baltimore under Kubiak with the rest of his texan boys.(Jacoby,Owen Daniels)

      • Jimmy on said:

        We can’t afford Johnson. We’d be better off signing a few veterans to sure up the line and/or cornerback position. I think this article was 100% dead on.

  2. Scarlet Raven on said:

    How about a large RB who is a great special teams who was on that unit who lead jones to at least three td returns and one of them in the Super Bowl Anthony Allen.

  3. Dominic on said:

    If those are some of the names available, Ozzie is better off doing what he usually does and wait for preseason cuts to pick up a vet for depth. Wharton was contemplating retirement and Florence is a liability in coverage at this point in his career. With Kubiak being the coach and Dennison being here, I would love to see the Ravens make a push for a guy like Andre Johnson, then Jacoby could concentrate primarily on being a returnman

  4. Cheri on said:

    Count me in on the Andre Johnson trade that would be B.I.G.. The only thing is the Ravens are already down 2 drafts picks next year and even with the 3 comp picks they are likely to get next year I can’t imaging Ozzie and CO. wanting to trade more picks just not like them.Also just because Johnson wants out does not mean Houston will honor that, matter of fact most likely they probably won’t unless a team is willing to overpay.
    Wharton would be fine but like most people I prefer a vet tackle and keep K.O at guard. I like Florence quite a bit as a nickle corner the one problem though would be his age.
    Bottom line I have no problem seeing what guys like Wagner or C. Brown can do at their positions but when you are a lower drafted guy like they are and not a first or 2nd round pick I would just feel more comfortable having these type of players beating out a vet to earn their jobs then just have it giving to
    them like you would a high draft pick but that’s just me.

    • designermd on said:

      the ravens would never, ever sign a WR making 15 million a year. there is no way to make that happen this year or in the future due to salary cap. also, he is getting older… the production goes down people. get it in check.

  5. Nater on said:

    We would most likely get 4 comp picks. Ed Dickson may offset Darien Stewart’s signing. Plus we get an extra 7th from the Dolphins. I say take a serious look into it if Andre wants a ring, he can work for a discount. He’s already a multi-millionaire.

    Now the real question is exactly how to work the contracts….
    Maybe a post 6/1 trade, where they eat and spread the remaining guaranteed money, and we then ask him to sign at a reduced rate? I don’t know. That’s a choice HE’d have to make.

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