By no means are we done looking back at the 2011 season, but at the request of some readers and Twitter followers I wanted to put up a list of the Ravens players that will become free agents this offseason.
Unrestricted free agents are players who have four or more accrued seasons of service and whose contracts have expired. The UFAs listed below are free to sign with any team and the Ravens have no control over them going into free agency.
Restricted free agents are players who have three accrued seasons of service and whose contracts have expired. The Ravens will be able to give the RFAs listed below a certain qualifying offer which has a level of draft pick compensation attached to it. After receiving a qualifying offer, restricted free agents are free to negotiate with any team up until a certain point, and if the player accepts a contract offer from a new team, the player's original team can either match the deal and keep the player or accept the draft pick compensation from that other team.
Exclusive-rights free agents have no more than two accrued seasons in the NFL. If the Ravens extend an offer to the ERFAs listed below, the player must accept it. In a sense, exclusive-rights free agents aren't free agents at all.
Here are the Ravens that will reach these three stages of free agency this offseason:
Unrestricted Free Agency (years of service in parentheses): LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (9), C Matt Birk (14), G Ben Grubbs (5), C Andre Gurode (10), LB Jarret Johnson (9), LB Edgar Jones (5), LB Jameel McClain (4), DT Brandon McKinney (6), S Haruki Nakamura (4), DE Cory Redding (9), RB Ray Rice (4), TE Kris Wilson (8), S Tom Zbikowski (4)
Restricted Free Agency: LB Dannell Ellerbe, RB Matt Lawrence, CB Lardarius Webb, CB Cary Williams
Exclusive-Rights Free Agency: LS Morgan Cox, CB Danny Gorrer, LB Sergio Kindle, LB Albert McClellan
A quick note on one of the guys listed above: while Ayanbadejo is an unrestricted free agent, he apparently has no plans of testing the market to see what's out there. Talking to reporters yesterday, the veteran linebacker sounded certain he'll be back in Baltimore next season.
"There's pretty much no question I'll be a Raven," Ayanbadejo said. "I'm a free agent. But that just means I've got to figure out a new contract. I want to end my career as a Raven."