Flacco No. 1, three other Ravens among ESPN’s top 50 free agents

Now that offseason activity nears with free agency to begin March 12, ESPN.com has released its list of the top 50 players about to hit the market.

It’s no surprise that four members of the Super Bowl champion Ravens found their way into the rankings.

Quarterback Joe Flacco leads the way as the No. 1 free agent overall even though, as the description notes, there is next to no chance that he’ll become available. The Ravens are hoping to sign him to a long-term extension, but owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome have repeatedly made it known that they’re prepared to place the franchise tag on Flacco.

Linebacker Paul Kruger followed at No. 19 on the list after recording a career-high nine sacks this season. The only reason Kruger isn’t higher is he struggles defending the run, but he is considered the best pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker on the market. Yes, a lot of qualifiers on that one, but Kruger is effective at getting to the quarterback and someone - not likely Baltimore - will pay him a hefty sum to do so.

Tight end Dennis Pitta was ranked 28th on the list despite being a restricted free agent who the Ravens will very likely have back. Pitta is coming off a career season - 61 receptions for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.

Cornerback Cary Williams was the final Baltimore player to make the list, slotting in at No. 35. Williams made some big plays for the Ravens, matching a team high with four interceptions during the regular season, including one for a touchdown, before adding two picks in the playoffs. But, as ESPN pointed out, Williams was beaten for a combined 45 first downs and touchdowns during the regular season, which was second-most in the league. The Ravens will likely be going forward without him since Lardarius Webb is expected to be healthy at the start of the season and Corey Graham emerged as a strong second corner.