The new league year is upon us and that means the start of Free Agency in the National Football League.  As is typical at this time of year, rumors are flying left and right, players are getting cut and signed by new teams in what seems like only a matter of hours, and if your Twitter timeline is like mine, there is a nonstop plethora of NFL news.

That includes Baltimore where the Ravens and fans are officially saying goodbye to a number of standout players from the 2014 roster.  News will be breaking fast and furious over the course of the next few hours and days, but here is some reaction on the latest roster decisions coming out of the Castle.


Haloti Ngata (Traded to Detroit for 4th and 5th round picks)

After not coming to agreement on a contract extension Ngata was traded to the Lions.  The Ravens will receive 4th and 5th round picks in return, as well as the much needed $8.5 million dollars in cap space the trade creates.

How is he replaced?

I’m not sure you can truly replace Haloti Ngata, but Timmy Jernigan certainly showed he could be up to the task with his play during Ngata’s suspension at the end of the 2014 season.  Look for some low-cost veteran depth to be added and some reinforcements provided by the Draft.


Pernell McPhee (5 years, $40 million with Chicago)

McPhee, a 5th round pick of the Ravens in 2011, is the latest front seven cog to land a big deal in Free Agency.  McPhee is versatile and can get to the quarterback.  It was fairly clear by mid-season that McPhee was playing his way out of the Ravens’ budget.

How is he replaced?

Finding defensive linemen and pass rushers is this front office’s forte.  While the absence of Ngata lessens the existing depth, look for McPhee to be replaced in-house or via the draft.


Torrey Smith (5 years, $40 million with San Francisco)

It became clear that Smith, who signed with the 49ers, would become an ex-Raven after he posted an extremely classy thank you letter to Baltimore fans on his website Sunday.  Smith is a fantastic representative for any team and a very good player on the field.  He will be missed for a myriad of reasons, but, in the end, the salary cap simply would not allow his return.

How is he replaced?

With wide receivers quickly coming off the board, there may not be too many choices when the dust settles.  Andre Johnson, recently cut by the Texans and a player coveted by many Baltimore fans, apparently doesn’t have the Ravens listed among his top choices. Dwayne Bowe, soon to be cut by Kansas City, could be another option, but his asking price could also be out of the range the Ravens are looking for.

Either way, I’d look for the Ravens to sign a veteran off the street and supplement with at least one draft pick.


Owen Daniels (Signs with Denver)

Emerging as a reliable target for Joe Flacco by season’s end, Daniels is another player that is tough to see walk away.  He is reportedly signing with the Denver Broncos, following his former head coach in Houston and former offensive coordinator in Baltimore, Gary Kubiak.

How is he replaced?

This creates a large question mark at tight end for the Ravens.  Dennis Pitta’s status is unknown and that leaves only young players Crocket Gilmore and Phillip Supernaw as the current options on the roster.  Look for a tight end to be drafted and veteran depth to be brought in.



Justin Forsett

Forsett would appear to be the biggest priority for the Ravens and with some cap space having been created Forsett is a good bet to return.  There aren’t many great options on the street, so hopefully the Ravens can get something done here.


What’s next?

Now that the Ravens have created just around $9 million in cap space by trading Ngata and restructuring Terrell Suggs’ deal, look for them to avoid the unrestricted free agents and focus on those players who were cut loose by their former teams.  The deft mantra of Ozzie and company is “right player, right price.”  Cap casualties don’t count against the formula for awarding compensatory draft picks and, as you know, the Ravens life blood is having as many picks as possible in the draft.

Speaking of which, after today’s trade with the Lions, the Ravens may have as many as 12 draft picks in the 2015 Draft once compensatory picks are announced.  The Ravens could be in line for as many as 3-4 comp picks.

It should get pretty interesting over the course of the next few hours and days.  This is the most fluid time of year in the NFL.  Enjoy the madness and then get ready for the Draft.