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Ravens roster preview: Offensive line — Will Osemele stay or go?


Ravens roster preview: Offensive line — Will Osemele stay or go?

It's clear that coming off a 5-11 season, the Ravens have some tough decisions to make regarding their 2016 roster. To be sure, injuries were a huge part of the story this past season, but there figures to be significant roster turnover after one of the worst seasons in team history. And as always, the salary cap figures to have a major influence on how the Ravens go about constructing their 2016 roster.

Over the next two weeks, we'll be examining each Ravens position group with an eye toward 2016. Who stays? Who goes? We'll begin with the offensive line. (Note: For the purpose of this discussion, we will limit the roster to just those players on the final 53-man roster and injured reserve.)

First, for a bit of terminology:

Unrestricted free agents are no longer under contract and are free to sign with any team when the new league year begins March 9.

Restricted free agents are players whose contracts have expired but they have at least three years of service time. The Ravens can tender a restricted free agent at one of three levels -- 1st round, 2nd round or low tender. Another team can then sign a Ravens restricted free agent to an offer sheet, but the Ravens would reserve the right to match the offer and keep the player. If they choose not to do that, the Ravens would receive draft-pick compensation based on the tender assigned.

Exclusive-rights free agents have two or fewer years in the league. If the Ravens tender an offer, the player must accept it. He cannot negotiate with other teams unless the Ravens choose not to tender a contract.

Under contract: James Hurst, Eugene Monroe, John Urschel, Rick Wagner, Marshal Yanda, Jeremy Zuttah

Unrestricted free agents: Kelechi Osemele

Restricted free agents: None

Exclusive rights free agents: Ryan Jensen, De'Ondre Wesley

The left side of the offensive line is one huge question mark right now. Will the Ravens try to re-sign left guard Kelechi Osemele? Could they even afford it? And if so, would the Ravens cut ties with Eugene Monroe and move Osemele to left tackle? Osemele essentially auditioned there over the final month of the season.

Cutting Monroe would save the Ravens about $2.1 million against the cap, and he has frequently been mentioned as a possible cap casualty. But if the Ravens cut Monroe, they would have to eat more than $6 million in dead money -- and then still find a left tackle if Osemele takes the money and runs. Trading away Haloti Ngata and eating that dead money was more palatable knowing there were strong successors waiting along the defensive line. That isn't the case here if Osemele leaves; James Hurst did not show himself to be a viable left tackle starter.

The Ravens might just need to bank on the hope that Monroe, 29, can stay healthy and finally begin to live up to the five-year, $37.5 million deal he signed before the 2014 season. He simply hasn't been healthy enough to do it to this point, missing half of the Ravens 34 games over the past two years. The bet here is that Monroe stays and Osemele gets a big payday elsewhere.

The rest of the line should be strong with Jeremy Zuttah at center, Marshal Yanda at right guard and Rick Wagner at right tackle. John Urschel saw plenty of action at center with Zuttah hurt, and he could become the starter at left guard if Osemele leaves or moves to tackle.

However this line is configured, the Ravens need to improve their running game; that was expected to be a strength in 2015 but the Ravens ranked 24th in rushing yards per play (3.86). 

MORE RAVENS: Will Suggs, Dumervil be dynamic sack duo in 2016?

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?