OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The NFL’s salary cap creates challenges for every team, especially the Ravens who use almost all of their available money.
As a result, the team has difficult decisions to make each year on retaining their potential free agents because of the cost.
At the same time, the Ravens have prided themselves on retaining their key playmakers that made their way through the franchise’s ranks, such as tight ends Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, linebacker Tyus Bowser and cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
However, there could be a bump in that trend this offseason as cornerback Anthony Averett, fullback Patrick Ricard and center Bradley Bozeman are about to test the free-agent market and could land lucrative deals elsewhere.
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said the team has the flexibility to sign players this offseason, but there has to be interest from both sides.
,We could pretty much sign anybody we want to sign if we could get a deal done,” DeCosta said. “It often takes … As you know, it takes two parties to get a deal done. What I would say is that I feel like we’re in good hands with [vice president of football administration] Nick Matteo and [senior vice president of football operations] Pat Moriarty kind of leading the charge. I think – you can fact check me on this – we’ve done 22 extensions at over $2 million in the last three years.”
The Ravens have needs on both sides of the ball, especially on the offensive and defensive lines and in the secondary. So, they have to be prudent when it comes to signing players.
DeCosta has not ruled out bringing back Averett, Bozeman or Ricard.
But the clock is ticking.
“I think there’s still a lot of potential for us to sign some more guys back, but I am confident that we’ll have the resources to sign our own guys back, or, if we see very good value in [the] free agency market, to maybe target somebody, knowing, as you guys know, that we’ll also factor in comp [compensatory] picks along the way,” DeCosta said.
The Ravens did re-sign fullback Ben Mason, who was a fifth-round pick last season who was plucked off the practice squad by the New England Patriots. The Ravens are hopeful Mason can develop some of the same skills as Ricard.