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The team, the team, the team: off-season player changes

It's the time of year again. Once free agency opens, players without contracts are free to switch teams and everyone scrambles to improve their roster. Here's what the Ravens did this year.

Players out: Kamar Aiken (WR), Vladimir Ducasse (OL), Elvis Dumervil (OLB – released), Matt Elam (S), Lawrence Guy (DE), Timmy Jernigan (DT – traded), Kyle Juszczyk (FB), Kendrick Lewis (S – released), Zachary Orr (ILB – retired), Jerraud Powers (CB – retired), Ricky Wagner (RT), Shareece Wright (CB – released), Jeremy Zuttah (C).

No major surprises here. It would have been nice to keep Juszczyk and Wagner but it’s easy to see why neither was prioritised – they’re just too expensive for what they bring. Aiken and Zuttah both leave holes but neither one was much more than a role player. The Ravens have to hope they can bring in better replacements at those positions. Elsewhere, Jernigan goes presumably so that the Ravens can get some value on a player they didn’t expect to retain when his contract expired after next season. Dumervil, meanwhile, is just not the player he was. You can keep one of Doom or Suggs but it’s hard to justify both.

Players in: Michael Campanaro (WR – re-signed), Brandon Carr (CB), Tony Jefferson (S), Ryan Jensen (OL – re-signed), Anthony Levine (FS – re-signed), Ryan Mallett (QB – re-signed), Dennis Pitta (TE – re-structured), Lardarius Webb (DB – released, then re-signed), Terrance West (RB – re-signed), Brandon Williams (DT, re-signed), Danny Woodhead (RB).

Two big headlines here. First, the Ravens have held onto one of my favourite players – Brandon Williams. And second, what about that secondary? The addition of Carr and Jefferson makes a huge difference to a unit that has struggled over the last couple of years. Getting Webb back on a cheaper deal is smart too: he had flashes of looking really good last year. There’s a lot of flexibility in the secondary now. This should make it possible to confuse opposing QBs by making it hard to know how who is playing where.

Overall, the Ravens have handled the free agency period really well. They haven’t lost any key pieces of the team and they’ve significantly improved the defence. Next season should be fun.

Photo: Keith Allison

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