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Ravens' NT Brandon Williams ranked among top 10 free agents

Ravens' NT Brandon Williams ranked among top 10 free agents

Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams is ranked among the top 10 free agents on the market in a list compiled by NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, and tackle Rick Wagner also makes the top-25 list, checking in at No. 24.

That only underscores what was already conventional wisdom around Baltimore: The Ravens will have a tough time holding on to either player given interest around the league and their typically thin amount of salary cap space.

At the "State of the Ravens" address on Tuesday, general manager Ozzie Newsome said the team has had preliminary discussions with some agents representing their pending free agents.

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"We have talked to some of the players before they left and let them know that we really would like to retain them," Newsome added. "A lot of the legwork has been done."

Williams and Wagner headline a pending free agent group for the Ravens that includes fullback Kyle Juszczyk, special teams ace Anthony Levine and safety Matt Elam.

Williams comes in at No. 9 on the NFL.com free agent list, and at this point, it would seem likely he will test the market and see what offers are out there. He is going to like what he sees.

"Williams is a one-man solution to your favorite team's run-stopping problems," Rosenthal wrote. "Damon Harrison paved the way last season for nose tackles to get paid like pass rushers."

Harrison signed with the New York Giants for five years and $46.2 million, with $24 million guaranteed.

Can, or would, the Ravens offer Williams a similar deal? Probably not, and that's nothing against Williams, who is a popular and respected player. He has probably been the Ravens most consistent defensive player over the past couple of seasons. But the Ravens have undrafted rookie Michael Pierce available at a fraction of that cost, and they could then turn their attention and resources to more pressing needs.  

As for Wagner, Rosenthal ranks him as the 24th-best available free agent, and he predicts that Wagner could command "north of $10 million per season in this market."

The salary cap, while not set yet, is expected to rise by $10 million or more. So the Ravens will have more money to work with. Then again, so will everyone else.

"With the salary cap escalating as it is, then the salaries of the players are escalating also," Newsome said. "You have to play the game."

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

The Ravens have their entire 2018 draft class locked up.

The team agreed to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Hurst's rookie contract - like all first-round picks - is a four-year deal with a team option of a fifth year. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 25th overall pick is due $11.1 million. 

The 24-year old, who was a walk on at South Carolina at 21-years old after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, finished his three-year career with 100 receptions, 1,281 yards and three touchdowns.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Hurst will be a nice addition to the TE corps with Nick Boyle and third-round draft pick Mark Andrews. 

Fellow first-round pick Lamar Jackson signed his rookie contract on June 5th.

Training camp kicks off for the Ravens July 19th. 

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."

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