With the 2019 season ending more abruptly than anyone in the organization could have imagined, the Ravens must wrestle with the fact that their 2020 roster-building process starts now.
Actually, it has already started, as general manager Eric DeCosta has made several in-season contract extensions this year, making good on his pledge to try to retain Ravens players rather than let them hit the free-agent market.
In the past month, the Ravens have extended cornerback Marcus Peters and fullback Patrick Ricard, both of whom are headed to the Pro Bowl. This comes after the Ravens had already worked out contract extensions with wide receiver Willie Snead and linebacker L.J. Fort earlier in the season, and with kicker Justin Tucker, guard Marshal Yanda and cornerback Tavon Young last offseason.
“That’s just the beginning,” Harbaugh said the day after Peters’ extension was announced. “That will be something that Eric and Ozzie [Newsome] continue to work on, and there will be more guys we sign, too. We want our players, and our players want to be here.”
The Ravens might be looking further ahead, trying to get extensions done with players who are still a year away with free agency, such as safety Chuck Clark or tackle Ronnie Stanley.
But in the more immediate future, the Ravens have 17 players who are set to become unrestricted free agents this spring. Center Matt Skura, who is recovering from a major knee injury sustained in November, is a restricted free agent.
Topping that list for the Ravens is linebacker Matthew Judon, who led the team with 9.5 sacks and has developed into one of the defensive leaders. Other notable free-agents-to-be include cornerback Jimmy Smith, defensive lineman Michael Pierce, linebacker Patrick Onwuasor and linebacker Josh Bynes.
Notice a pattern? Those are all defensive players. The Ravens’ record-setting offense is almost entirely under contract again next year. The only notable free agent on offense is wide receiver Seth Roberts, though All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda has been considering retirement, so his future is uncertain as well.
The Ravens own exclusive negotiating rights to their own pending free agents through Marc h 15. Beginning March 16, players can begin negotiating with other teams, and free-agent contracts can be signed as of March 18.
Here are the Ravens’ pending unrestricted free agents:
ILB Josh Bynes
DL Justin Ellis
C Hroniss Grasu
OLB Matthew Judon
DB Anthony Levine
OLB Pernell McPhee
WR Chris Moore
ILB Patrick Onwuasor
DL Domata Peko
DL Michael Pierce
DB Jordan Richards
WR Seth Roberts
CB Jimmy Smith
T Andrew Smith
WR-KR De’Anthony Thomas
DB Brynden Trawick
DE Jihad Ward
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox