With $26 million in salary-cap space, reportedly $17 million to sign on unrestricted free agents if it wishes to, Baltimore could me a major player in the market. Expect the Ravens to avoid getting into bidding wars. In auction terms, they won't chase the bid by setting the market with blockbuster offer sheets for free agents.
They will be more prone to bide their time and be selective in their spending.
That said, don't expect the Ravens to avoid completely intriguing players like Arizona Cardinals wide receiver David Boston, linebackers like the Chicago Bears' Roosevelt Colvin, the Indianapolis Colts' Mike Peterson and the Seattle Seahawks' Anthony Simmons, Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Flozell Adams, Denver Broncos offensive tackle Blake Brockermeyer, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Wayne Gandy and James Williams, formerly of the Bears, along with New York Jets offensive guard Randy Thomas and the Oakland Raiders' versatile blocker Mo Collins as well as cornerbacks like the Denver Broncos' Denard Walker and the St. Louis Rams' Dre' Bly.
"First of all, the UFA [unrestricted free agent] market is OK," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "But the market is getting better each day as teams are working to get under the cap and releasing players.
"Over the past 72 hours there have been a good number of players that have come into the market that have made it a lot better. Between now and Monday and potentially March 15, when a lot of roster bonuses are due, there are going to be more players in the market. From that standpoint, it's getting better. I think each team that wants to be a player can go out there and get some good buys."
Obviously, the Arizona Cardinals have $36.7 million in cap room and are a strong contender to re-sign Boston. Newsome declined to comment directly on Boston on Thursday, citing the league's prohibition against tampering with players before the official start of free agency. However, Ravens coach Brian Billick made it clear in a broadcast interview earlier this week how strongly he feels about the multi-dimensional, but troubled Boston, who likely faces a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy for reportedly testing positive for marijuana and cocaine in a DUI arrest by Arizona police.
"No, Arizona has a lot more than we do," Newsome said. "Minnesota has a lot more than we do. But teams are just smarter with free agency. Free agency is not the way to win the Super Bowl, the draft is. Free agency is the way to augment your football team. I think everybody is just going to be prudent about who they sign, how they sign them, and not get themselves in some big deals where two or three years later you have to cut those guys and have all that dead money.
"I think we've learned to live under the cap, and having a lot of cap room doesn't mean we're going to be big in free agency. It means you can start to sign some of your own guys that could become free agents in the near future."