The Baltimore Ravens started off 2012’s free agency period making local headlines… but not for their acquisitions.
After coming up a dropped pass and a missed field goal short of the Super Bowl, most fans hoped that the Ravens would begin the 2012 season by adding to their weakness at wide receiver, along with building for the future, looking for eventual replacements for linebacker Ray Lewis, who has been with the team since the 1995 season, and safety Ed Reed, an 11-year veteran. The AFC North champions also need to focus on resigning all-pro running back Ray Rice and cornerback Lardarius Webb.
With Rice tendered and Webb in contract negotiations, most expected and attempt to resign other key veterans, or to test the free agency market. This was not in the cards.
The first player to leave Baltimore was defensive end Cory Redding. Following former coordinator turned head coach Chuck Pagano, Redding inked a three-year, $10.3 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts.
Next was one of the biggest loses of the short offseason. After nine years with the Ravens, former fourth round draft pick Jarret Johnson signed with the San Diego Chargers. In a four-year deal, Johnson will provide support to the Chargers linebacker corps.
Finally, Baltimore lost their third starter in that many days as offensive lineman Ben Grubbs chose to go to the New Orleans Saints. Finalizing a five-year, $36 million contract, the 2007 first round draft pick will be a looming hole in the offensive line, which already has questions about the status of center Matt Birk.
With limited extra cap space to spend, the Baltimore Ravens will look to the next man to fill the spaces left by the former players. DL/LB Paul Krugar will likely become a starter along with the possibility of first round draft pick Sergio Kindle, who seems fully recovered from his season ending head injury of two seasons ago.
The other questions marks will have to be filled in the draft or through free agency if more veteran were to travel to new teams.