Super Bowl champion Ravens look to make most of roster turnover
Baltimore, MD, United States (4E Sports) – Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh is taking the line-up changes in stride, saying it’s impossible for a team to stay the same in today’s NFL.
“The worst mistake you can make is trying to hold a team together,” said Harbaugh.
This offseason, Baltimore has released safety Bernard Pollard and guard Bobbie Williams, traded wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick, lost linebackers Dannell Ellerbe (Miami Dolphins) and Paul Kruger (Cleveland Browns) and cornerback Cary Williams (Philadelphia Eagles) in free agency.
The Super Bowl champs also watched linebacker Ray Lewis and center Matt Birk retire.
Boldin was quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite target and the team’s leading receiver in each of the past three seasons. He was traded after refusing to take a pay cut, something that owner Steve Bisciotti says was necessary, albeit very painful.
The Ravens drafted and have been grooming Tandon Doss to eventually replace Boldin as a slot receiver.
Safety Ed Reed, 34, remains unsigned and made a free-agent visit to the Houston Texans last week. But the Texans’ offer was lower than what Reed had hoped.
General manager Ozzie Newsome plans to talk with Reed’s representation this week and Bisciotti indicated that he believes the Ravens will get a chance to match any offer the safety gets.
Harbaugh said he has his fingers crossed and remains “very hopeful” that a deal can be reached to bring the safety back for a 12th season in Baltimore.
The organization is largely focused on the draft, but Harbaugh said the Ravens “can be active in free agency to an extent” and they’d also like to lock up a couple of their younger players with contract extensions. Tight end Dennis Pitta and offensive tackle Michael Oher are the most likely candidates.
The Ravens maintain interest in free agent left tackle Bryant McKinnie, but Harbaugh didn’t rule out Oher returning to left tackle, where he played most of last season.
Harbaugh said the team is looking for at least one more offensive lineman, possibly a center to compete with Gino Gradkowski. He also expects the team to draft another tight end and wide receiver despite expressing confidence that Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson or David Reed can help fill Boldin’s role.
Tommy Streeter, a sixth-round pick in last year’s draft, might not have made the 53-man roster had he not been placed on injured reserve in August. But the 6-foot-5 wide-out has intriguing size and could be a potential red-zone threat.
Still, Harbaugh said the Ravens’ title-winning team will always be together in spirit, while the rebooted version will be ready to defend that championship.
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself. Nobody’s feeling sorry for you,” Harbaugh said.