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Offseason Forecast: Baltimore Ravens

With the offseason officially under way, Around The League will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Baltimore Ravens.

What's changing?



With the offseason underway, Around The League explores what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | 49ers | Rams | Seahawks

The Ravens adjust to change as well as any team in the league. Good thing, too, because Baltimore has plenty of juggling to do. With a whopping 14 players set to hit free agency, general manager Ozzie Newsome is tasked with filling holes on defense and adding playmakers to an offense that sputtered last season. On that side of the ball, coordinator Jim Caldwell has been replaced by former Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak, who will need more talent on the offensive line to make a real difference in 2014. One positive for Newsome: After living in salary-cap hell last offseason, the Ravens currently sit about $20 million under, giving this team ample room to maneuver.

Biggest free agents


» TE Dennis Pitta: NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the Ravens and Pitta are "making progress" on a new deal. If they don't get one done by March 3, Baltimore's a strong bet to franchise tag Joe Flacco's best friend. If that happens, look for Pitta to file a grievance through the NFL Players Association to be tagged as a receiver -- at $11.6 million instead of $6.8 million -- after operating out of the slot on 79.7 percent of his routes in 2013. (UPDATE: The Ravens and Pitta agreed to a long-term contract on Friday.)

» OT Eugene Monroe: Newsome told reporters Saturday that he's already talking with the bookend about a new deal. The Ravens sound determined to keep Monroe around for the long haul. One tackle we don't expect back is Michael Oher.

» LB Daryl Smith: The Ravens also are talking with Smith about a new deal after the reliable linebacker finished second on defense in total snaps and brought stability to the unit's second wave.

Other key free agents: OT Michael Oher, CB Corey Graham, WR Tandon Doss, TE Dallas Clark, TE Ed Dickson, DE Arthur Jones, WR Jacoby Jones, DT Terrence Cody, CB Corey Graham, S James Ihedigbo, S Jeromy Miles

What they need


The offensive line is flush with question marks. Last season's game tape confirms that Geno Gradkowski doesn't hold a candle to the retired Matt Birk. Meanwhile, left guard Kelechi Osemele is coming off a back injury and, as mentioned, Oher is likely a goner. If the team can't lock down Monroe, the Ravens could be looking at a complete overhaul up front.

Baltimore also needs to add new targets for Flacco. Marlon Brown is an intriguing young receiver, but nobody behind Torrey Smith is a proven threat. It's an outstanding draft for wideouts, and we expect the Ravens to use one of their four picks to on a pass-catcher, especially if Jacoby Jones bolts. The Ravens also need safety help with Ihedigbo set to hit the open market.

On the way out?


» RB Ray Rice: It's possible that Rice will face a suspension on the heels of his arrest for simple assault. Newsome acknowledged that the video of Rice's scuffle with his fiancée, Janay Palmer, at an Atlantic City casino "doesn't look good." Still, both the general manager and coach John Harbaugh have emphasized that Rice remains a central figure in next season's plans. As of today, we fully anticipate Rice to be kept.

» FB Vonta Leach: The veteran fullback faded from the scene down the stretch. Set to cost $2.3 million against the cap, Leach looms as a logical cut for a team that might opt for the less-expensive Kyle Juszczyk at the position.

Offseason crystal ball


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Baltimore is prioritizing Pitta's return. One way or another, he'll be back, along with Eugene Monroe. Teams aren't in the habit of waving goodbye to talented, young players, and we expect the left tackle to ink a long-term pact with the Ravens. I also expect Newsome to push for an upgrade at center and look for bodies to beef up a line that stunk up the joint last season.

Smith will be retained at linebacker and the Ravens will angle to replace Ihedigbo in the back of this defense. Newsome likes to mix in veterans with young talent, but with just four picks in May's draft, we expect Baltimore to operate as an active -- but smart -- participant in free agency.

On the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys talk about the Jim Harbaugh drama in San Francisco and discuss who made the most striking impression at the NFL Scouting Combine.

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