Catching up on re-signings and losses in free agency

Let's take a minute and catch up on the Ravens since free agency started March 13.

The Ravens have lost five players. Those players are safeties Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski, left guard Ben Grubbs, defensive end Cory Redding and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson. They've re-signed one player, center Matt Birk, and were spurned by another, guard Evan Mathis.

Grubbs leaving is the biggest blow to a team that needs offensive line help. His loss was felt during the season when he missed six games with a turf toe injury. To make matters worse along the offensive line, Mathis, the Ravens' backup plan, decided to re-up with his old team, the Eagles.

Where does that leave the Ravens? They've got a few options. In their State of the Ravens address last month, the team's brass suggested moving 2011 third-round pick Jah Reid, a backup tackle, to left guard. The other two options are signing someone in free agency, as they tried with Mathis, or drafting a player. At the moment, that player could be Wisconsin's Peter Konz.

Konz, regarded as the draft's top center, could play guard for a season or two while learning under Birk before taking over for the 15-year veteran.

The second need for the Ravens will be safety. With Zbikowski and Nakamura leaving for the Colts and Panthers, respectively, the Ravens have Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and special teamer Emanuel Cook on the roster at safety.

The Ravens may find an answer for safety depth in the draft or for a bargain price on the free agent market.

Redding and Johnson may be the two most replaceable Ravens. Redding, who signed a three-year contract with the Colts, can be replaced by Pernell McPhee and Art Jones. Both players emerged during the 2011 season as pass-rushing threats.

Johnson, a gritty player, signed with the Chargers. The nine-year veteran is a good outside linebacker who can set the edge on running plays. Johnson will most likely be replaced by third-year linebacker Paul Kruger.

The Ravens' only free agent that has re-signed is Birk, who agreed to a three-year deal with the Ravens on Friday. The center has started 48 straight games with the Ravens and 96 consecutive overall. He was named the 2011 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year.

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