The Ravens could be primed for an intriguing week with the official league year set to begin on Wednesday, March 14.
There has already been a flurry of activity around the NFL.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome certainly does not want to fall too far behind the divisional rivals, especially one that couldn’t even win a game last season. As a result, Newsome and the rest of the team’s front office could become more aggressive in the early days of free agency.
The Ravens’ top priority is signing a marquee wide receiver. The most intriguing players are Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins. However, there could be a bidding war for their services and the Ravens could be priced out because of their limited salary cap flexibility.
If the Ravens can’t land either Robinson or Watkins, they could make an aggressive move to re-sign Mike Wallace, who led the team with 748 receiving yards with four touchdowns in 2017. Danny Amendola and Donte Moncrief are other fallback options.
The Ravens, though, need to create some salary cap space before they pursue any of these players. This could mean the end of the line for receiver Jeremy Maclin, who would create about $5 million if released.
Other potential cuts to create salary cap space include offensive tackle Austin Howard ($3 million), running back Danny Woodhead ($1.8 million), safety Lardarius Webb ($1.8 million) and linebacker Albert McClellan ($1.3 million).
The Ravens certainly want to create a bigger buzz around the team after missing the playoffs for three consecutive years. Fans are showing their frustration by not attending games. There is hope that some of the controversy surrounding the player protests during the National Anthem has subsided.
Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti are not taking the dip in attendance lightly. They saw the empty purple seats on game days and agree on the solution to the problem: winning.
“Not only does Steve see that, I see that,” Newsome said. “I’m there at every home game and I look around our stands and I see that it’s not the same as it was. I get the product better on the field, I think our fans are going to show up.”
This is Newsome’s final season as GM before long-time assistant Eric DeCosta takes the reigns. As a result, Newsome wants to go out a winner.
While some Ravens fans are already growing impatient, Bisciotti, Newsome and DeCosta have a detailed plan about potential moves and are prepared to work around the financial restrictions surrounding the team. They want to become more aggressive and creative to make the team better in the short-term.
Furthermore, the Ravens are not ready for a complete rebuild, especially with the hefty contract of quarterback Joe Flacco still on the books. The team wants to end the recent playoff drought and make a run at the Super Bowl this season.
That journey begins this week.
Fans will be eagerly watching to determine if those expectations are realistic in light of the recent struggles.
“I don’t like not playing in January,” Newsome said. “That’s something we talk about all the time. We have to find a way to get to 11 wins because we’ve proven that once we get into the playoffs, then we can do some damage while we’re there. I feel like we should all feel that burden on us.”