Ravens' have their priorities in line

Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome dictated months ago how the offseason would transpire under his direction. In terms of outlook, the Ravens' priorities include: 1. Addressing the quarterback position, whether that means re-signing Jeff Blake to an incentive-laden deal as well as retaining restricted free agent Chris Redman and evaluating his rehabilitation from back surgery.

Mulling over the addition of a veteran free agent like Jake Plummer or Brian Griese or drafting a quarterback in either the first or second round.

2. Upgrading the problematic receiver position either with a blue-chip free agent such as David Boston or Peerless Price if they hit the open market, or biding their time until the NFL Draft in April. Finding complementary wideouts to go with Travis Taylor is important, too.

3. Retaining cover cornerback Chris McAlister, a player with a rare blend of athleticism and size, will happen through the franchise tag being assigned by next week. That will buy the Ravens' time to negotiate a long-term extension with the mercurial McAlister's representative, Mitch Frankel.

4. Improving the pass rush and run-stopping capabilities of the defensive line with a stouter nose guard and a more explosive upfield pass rusher. The Ravens may entertain bringing back hefty former Raven Sam Adams, who looked chunky and slow during the Oakland Raiders' Super Bowl debacle. An elite edge rusher like Terrell Suggs may not be possible because of their rapidly rising stock, or defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, but a player like Georgia's Jonathan Sullivan or Kentucky's Dewayne Robertson or Miami's William Joseph or Penn State's Michael Haynes would certainly come in handy.

5. Solving the Bermuda Triangle of the right tackle spot, a struggle for years. That means either signing a free agent like Luke Petitgout or Wayne Gandy or Solomon Page or trading for John Tait or drafting a top prospect like Utah's Jordan Gross or Stanford's Kwame Harris. Either way, it would make offensive line coach Jim Colletto smile. Adding an aggressive, bulky right guard would help the situation, too.

6. The Ravens could also use another outside linebacker, another cover corner and a thumper at safety. In free agency, Tebucky Jones, Donovin Darius and Sammy Knight are worth investigating.

Bottom line: The Ravens are a team on the rise by all considerations and here's what they've accomplished thus far: 1) Redman had successful surgery; 2) The club managed to retain super sleuth scout Phil Savage and granted him a promotion while rewarding hard workers in George Kokinis and Eric DeCosta with a climb up the ladder; 3) Promoted Newsome to a formal general manager title; 4) Overseen Ray Lewis' successful progression from season-ending shoulder surgery; 5) Added the inspirational Hall of Fame middle linebacker Mike Singletary as linebackers coach, albeit a first-time coaching situation.


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