Ravens plan to retain free agents

OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens plan to submit qualifying offers to retain their restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

Restricted agents include starting inside linebacker Ed Hartwell and offensive guards Bennie Anderson and Casey Rabach along with long snapper Joe Maese.

The Ravens have a March 2 deadline to tender offers to restricted and exclusive-rights free agents and have the right of first refusal if another team matches the offer.

"We don't concern ourselves with what other organizations think," Newsome said. "It's what we think about the players that determines the tenders. 

"We anticipate all of them being back. We will tender all of them."

Teams tend to anticipate how high a draft pick other teams would be willing to surrender as compensation for signing a restricted free agent before deciding how high a tender they should place on a player.

For example, last year quarterback Chris Redman was assigned a $1.3 million tender and was retained. 

"I'm pretty sure the Ravens will give Ed a high tender offer," said Harold Lewis, Hartwell's agent. "If it's lower, a fourth-round pick where he was drafted, there would be a lot of interest from a lot of teams and they could lose him."

In the case of exclusive-rights free agents like safety Will Demps, offensive tackle Damion Cook, wide receiver Randy Hymes, fullback Alan Ricard and cornerback Ray Walls, the Ravens merely have to submit a minimum salary contract offer to retain their rights.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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