Ravens Have Week To Sign Free Agents

Time is running out to keep players like Jarret Johnson and Ben Grubbs from becoming free agents.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Categories: 2012 Offseason, Garrett Downing

Free agency is a week away, meaning that the Ravens have just seven days to work out contract extensions or apply tenders to their free-agent class.

Expect General Manager Ozzie Newsome to be busy this week.

The Ravens have some key unrestricted free agents that could fetch big salaries on the open market, including Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs, outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and inside linebacker Jameel McClain.

The Ravens have been in contract talks with Grubbs, and Head Coach John Harbaugh said at the combine that they are offering him a “lot of money.” If the Ravens don’t reach a deal with Grubbs before free agency opens, then he will be one of the top offensive linemen on the market.

On defense, Johnson and McClain have been critical pieces during the past few seasons, and Newsome told reporters at the combine that the Ravens would like to have both linebackers in Baltimore.

In addition to those three, other unrestricted free agents include linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo and Edgar Jones, defensive end Cory Redding, centers Matt Birk and Andre Gurode, safeties Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski, defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and tight end Kris Wilson.

Birk contemplated retirement this offseason, but his agent said recently that he would like to return and will work to get a deal done with the Ravens. Newsome did say at the end-of-season press conference that the Ravens will have a new center on the roster next season, likely signaling that Birk and Gurode will not both be back. The Ravens could let one or both hit the open market, and then look for other free agents or find a replacement in the draft. 

With the other unrestricted free agents, the organization has not made it clear about whether they will try to re-sign them, and Newsome’s philosophy has always been that they’ll sign the “right players at the right price.”

In terms of the restricted free agents, the Ravens have cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams.

With restricted free agents, the teams can apply a tender to the player, which corresponds with a draft pick. An opposing team would then have to give the Ravens their draft pick in that round and offer the player a contract that the Ravens couldn’t match in order to sign them away from Baltimore.

The Ravens are likely to offer a tender to Williams, but Webb could be a different story.

Newsome left open the door to working out a contract extension with Webb, who earned some Pro Bowl consideration this season, rather than offering him a tender. If they can’t agree to the terms of a new contract before free agency opens next week, then the Ravens will likely offer a tender to Webb, and then could continue to work out a contract extension before training camp if another team doesn’t make a move for him.

The other player who was set to become an unrestricted free agent was running back Ray Rice, but the Ravens took care of that last week by franchising him, which buys some time to work out a contract extension.

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