The Ravens followed up their best regular season in franchise history in 2006 (13-3) with their worst season since 1996 (4-12), their first year in Baltimore. Quarterback play continues to be a problem for the Ravens - Steve McNair is a shell of his former self, and Kyle Boller has yet to assert himself as a reliable weekly option for a team that feels it can contend. The defense regressed in a major way as well, considering they ranked 24th in points allowed. Part of that could be do to a turnover prone offense though since they still ranked in the top ten in yards allowed. Together the QBs (McNair, Boller, & Smith) combined for 27 turnovers and just 14 touchdowns and the team as a whole was an NFL worst -17 in turnover ratio.
McNair's huge contract is one of the main reasons the Ravens' are
in shoddy shape financially.
Terrell Suggs: Franchised - Suggs finished 2007 with the lowest sack total of his career but the highest number of tackles. He's also been remarkably durable not missing a game so far in his five years in the league. An interesting debate has brewed between Suggs and the organization about his position. Because the franchise tag pays the top three average salaries at that position, it obviously matters whether he's tagged as a LB or a DE. Not surprisingly, Suggs insists he's a DE, who get paid more than LBs.
Brendon Ayanbadejo: Hot of the press, just this morning they signed the former Chicago Bear LB and special teams standout. The five year veteran was undrafted but has played in 80 NFL games, starting 3. It is a reported 4 year contract.
Gerome Sapp: UFA The five year pro, is basically a backup player but did register the first two sacks of his career in 2007.
Musa Smith: UFA Smith started the first game of career in '07 and finished with his best season so far. The 232 pound, 25 year old totaled 456 yards from scrimmage and doubled his career total with two touchdowns.
BJ Sams: UFA The Ravens primary returner until 2007 lost his job to rookie Yamon Figurs. During his three seasons returning kicks Sams averaged 22.7 yards per kickoff return and 11 yards per punt return.
Mike Flynn: Cut Flynn started 115 games for the Ravens over the past 11 seasons but he was cut on February 28th. Considering he was only going to count two million against the cap in 2008, his age (33) was probably the biggest reason for the move.
Mike Anderson: Cut The former Marine never got much of a chance in Baltimore despite averaging over 4.5 yards per carry during his two seasons there. Guess he was too good a guy for the organization. At his age (34), his career might be over.
If the Ravens could ever find a quarterback, they might be a contender. Their offensive line is young considering every starter was drafted since 2005 with the obvious exception of Jonathon Ogden. The receiving corps though still depends on 33 year old Derrick Mason and once promising Mark Clayton took a big step back after a much improved 2006. McGahee had arguably his best season as a pro with 4.1 yards per carry and 7 touchdowns, and Todd Heap should be more productive in '08 than he was during an injury plagued '07. With the eight overall pick in the draft, the Ravens should be in line to get either a potential franchise quarterback or the best wide receiver of the class.
Despite the defense slipping a bit in 2007, they're still not as old as I thought. Only 5 starters are 30 or older. Despite missing 16 games the past 3 seasons, Ray Ray still impacts games, though after 12 seasons, not in the same way he once did. If their offense wouldn't compromise them so damn much, it's not crazy to think they couldn't continue to be a top eight defense in 2008.
So who/what did I miss and who do you think the Ravens should target in April? Do they have any chance of challenging for the AFC North crown in '08.