The Ravens will most definitely have a different look to them when training camp begins next summer.
Baltimore has 13 pending unrestricted free agents, seven of which were starters and all but one were key contributors to the team in 2013. The team has $70.9 million in cap space tied up in six players - Haloti Ngata, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb, Ray Rice and Marshal Yanda.
The Ravens currently have about $13.6 mill in cap space for next year, but that certainly won’t be enough to bring back everyone from their group of pending free agents.
Here’s a quick look at the list of UFAs:
TE Dallas Clark
DT Terrence Cody
TE Ed Dickson
CB Corey Graham
S James Ihedigbo
DT Art Jones
WR Jacoby Jones
S Jeromy Miles
T Eugene Monroe
T Michael Oher
TE Dennis Pitta
RB Bernard Scott
LB Daryl Smith
Art Jones and Michael Oher declined to talk, but others answered questions about their football futures. The consensus among several of the free agents-to-be is that they want to be back with the Ravens.
Let’s start with Eugene Monroe, who did a solid job after being acquired from the Jaguars during the season, but didn’t perform at an exceptional level. His physical tools and promise could make him a hot commodity on the open market.
With the Ravens set to have both starting tackles become free agents, they’d likely want one back and Monroe would be the likely pick after Oher had difficulty all year. But does Monroe want to re-sign with Baltimore?
“That would be awesome. I loved my time here and feel like I fit in pretty well,” he said Monday. “I came in here and played well every game, and I’d like the opportunity to do that here again. ...
“It’s just coming to a place that you have a winning mentality, and you feel it every day. Everything that we do here is catered toward us being successful, and the men that are involved in this organization are great people. I had fun coming to work every day here. So it’s just an awesome situation.”
Would he talk to the Ravens first before fielding other offers?
“I’m not there yet. We just finished the season yesterday. So I don’t have the answer for that,” he said.
Coming off an injury, Daryl Smith had a strong first year with the Ravens after signing a one-year deal last offseason. He led the team in tackles and set a franchise record for passes defensed by a linebacker.
Smith came in to fill the shoes of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, and he never seemed affected by the pressure. Smith also said he’d like to come back.
“Most definitely. I love it here and would love to be back. We’ll see how it goes though,” he said. “I think they want me back, but we’ll see. Only time will tell. I know they’ve got a lot of stuff to do this year, and a lot of guys up (with their contracts). So we’ll see.”
Corey Graham fell in the group of those who want to return, especially after the team gave him a chance to play cornerback following a career made on special teams.
“I would like to be here. When you win a Super Bowl somewhere, you get the opportunity to play somewhere, and things start to go well for you, you want to be in the place where they gave you opportunities,” Graham said. “It’s a good organization; they gave me a chance to play. When I first came here, all I said was that I wanted an opportunity - they did that. I’m grateful for every opportunity I’ve gotten here.”
Ed Dickson also wants to remain in black and purple. He said he loves Baltimore and the organization, but he’s ready for whatever comes.
“I’m 26 years old and I want to be great. I want to be great no matter where I am,” he said.
While Dennis Pitta wasn’t around to address his situation, Dickson weighed in, saying he believes the Ravens absolutely should bring back his fellow tight end even after this year’s hip injury.
“Without a doubt. (Flacco and Pitta) have a connection, that’s like that John Stockton and (Karl) Malone connection,” Dickson said. “I’m not saying that’s the only thing that you need. ... I’m proud of the way he battled back from injury and stuff like that. He’s been great and he will be good for years to come.”
James Ihedigbo was the rare player to not provide the political answer. After returning to a starting role and performing well this year, he was non-committal about whether he’d like to be back in Baltimore.
“That’s kind of out of my hands at this point,” he said. “I’m just kind of frustrated about the outcome of the season. I’ll let my agent handle all that stuff. There is really no comment on any of that.”