Two weeks out from their first practice of training camp, the Ravens have just $606,858 available under the salary cap if they hope to, as they seem to do every year, acquire a key veteran before the start of this season. Of course, they could potentially free up more wiggle room by negotiating a long-term extension with running back Ray Rice or by releasing a pricey veteran this summer (maybe Bryant McKinnie, as NFL.com speculates?).
Barring a change in these next two weeks, though, the Ravens will hit the practice fields in Owings Mills for camp and see what they have at a few uncertain positions. They may decide they don’t need a veteran back to spell Rice because Bernard Pierce, Anthony Allen or maybe even Damien Berry can help carry the load. They may maintain their confidence in their young wide receivers. And they may feel comfortable with their depth at free safety behind Ed Reed and also with their young players at outside linebacker -- Paul Kruger, Courtney Upshaw, Sergio Kindle, etc. -- who are tasked with pressuring the quarterback with Terrell Suggs sidelined.
But knowing the Ravens, they are always willing to upgrade with their roster in the late stages of the preseason (see the signing of McKinnie last year and the recent trades for Josh Wilson and Lee Evans). And if they create cap flexibility beyond that $606,858 figure (per the NFL’s official website), there are some intriguing free agents who remain unspoken for. Alex Marvez of FOX Sports wrote about his top 10 on Tuesday afternoon.
Putting my speculation hat on, here are four players from Marvez’s list who might be a fit in Baltimore if the Ravens feel like tinkering.
Andre Carter, defensive end: Carter recorded 10 sacks for the New England Patriots last season before a quadriceps injury ended his season. He has been linked to the Patriots again this offseason, but he remains unsigned. If the Ravens feel they need another edge rusher to help overcome the loss of Suggs, maybe they will consider giving Carter’s agent a phone call. Matt Roth, who has 23.5 career sacks, is also a free agent of note.
Braylon Edwards, wide receiver: If Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants a scouting report on Edwards, he can reach out to his brother, Jim. Edwards played nine games for Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers in 2011, but made just 15 catches for 181 yards. If he can still run -- and that's a big if -- his size might help out team’s downfield passing attack. But that’s only if the Ravens lose confidence in LaQuan Williams and Tandon Doss.
Ryan Grant, running back: The Ravens believe that one of their young backs can replace Ricky Williams as the backup to Rice. Anthony Allen is the frontrunner heading into training camp, but there are some around the league who like Bernard Pierce’s potential. But if the Ravens go with a veteran, Grant would be a good fit. He was productive as the main back in Green Bay, he has good size and he is capable of playing on third down.
Jim Leonhard, safety: Leonhard played just one season in Baltimore, but he became a fan favorite lining up next to Reed in 2008. He left with Rex Ryan for New York in 2009, but his time with the Jets appears to be over. Most of his experience is at strong safety, but the 29-year-old has the smarts and speed to be a passable stopgap should Reed decide he is comfortable away from football. He also would add value on special teams.
Marvez also had quarterback Donovan McNabb, who last bounced passes off the turf for the Minnesota Vikings, on his list of top free agents. But I’m not going there. The Ravens appear to be pretty comfortable with Tyrod Taylor and Curtis Painter.