It has been a week of frenzied activity since the NFL resumed business. Players have been changing addresses-some to other teams, some to destinations unknown at the moment-while others have come back to the fold. Training camps have opened up, fantasy football leagues are making up for lost time-yes football is back. You almost would’ve forgotten that anything else was going on in the sports world: baseball had its trading deadline come and go, and the Orioles, as usually is the case, were giving players away rather than adding players for the stretch run. Yes there were some big deals made in baseball, but nothing quite like the headlines coming from the NFL.
My daughter’s boyfriend has been peppering me with questions throughout the lockout and since it ended. Since my job doesn’t really allow me to follow the news 24/7, he usually gets the highlights of what transactions have taken place over the course of a day. Like me, he is a Ravens fan, so it was interesting to see his reaction when I told him that Derrick Mason, Willis McGahee, Kelly Gregg and Todd Heap had all been cut last week. I tell you, there was palpable panic etched in his face. I had to explain to him that they were cap casualties, cuts made to make room under the new salary cap for the upcoming season. It eased his pain when I told him that the Ravens were going to make an effort to bring them all back, but for less money than they had been making. Of course, now that McGahee, Gregg and Heap (HEEEEAAAAPPPP!) have all headed for new clubs the sky is really falling now for him. Throw in the other departures as shown on the handy Baltimore Sports Report Free Agent Tracker (shameless plug), and now he is wondering who will be left when the season starts. Gloom and doom are the order of the day.
His reaction is no doubt similar to many fans. In checking comments in other places where news of which Ravens players are becoming former Ravens players, the general sentiment of many (but not all) seems to be “when are the Ravens going to do something?” Why are they letting the other teams grab all the good players available in the free agent market? To that end, all of a sudden, the Philadelphia Eagles have become the offseason winners, with the haul of players they have brought in through free agency and trade. And who would’ve thought that the Washington Redskins would become Ravens south? Three free agent signings of now former Ravens? And all the Ravens have to show for one week of the whirlwind of personnel moves in the league is a re-upped Marshal Yanda and fullback Vonta Leach? The armchair general managers seem to be looking for more O-line help, a pass rusher, and perhaps some better cornerbacks (for my part, I wish the Ravens could’ve kept Josh Wilson).
Of course, signing Haloti Ngata long-term is and should be a primary goal. The others are going to have to be worked on. The front office may be confident that Anquan Boldin can lead a group of young wide receivers to become dangerous threats for Joe Flacco. Perhaps the Ravens can get Osi Umenyiora from the Giants. Maybe they think Sergio Kindle is ready to go and be the pass rusher they thought they were getting when they drafted him. Perhaps now is the time for Terrence Cody, Ed Dickson and/or Dennis Pitta and other younger players to step up. And they think a defensive backfield consisting of Domonique Foxworth, Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, as well as Ed Reed and Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura can get the job done-at least it seems the Ravens brass is counting on it. And now a backup running back is needed as well, though I’m sure the team knows this and is working to get a good one at a reasonable price.
Thankfully, I have talked the boyfriend down off the ledge, but still there is the uncertainty of what the 2011 season will bring for the Baltimore Ravens. It has only been one week-try to breathe easy folks. And I’ll certainly be sure the boyfriend does just that.