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Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Ravens note on free agency

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Wednesday probably isn't the best time to harp on free agency when it comes to the Baltimore Ravens. But I want to give our AFC North readers an early heads up on an interesting development that will tremendously impact the Ravens in the next several weeks.

Unless something changes with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, Baltimore will not be able to sign a free agent this offseason until one of its own free agents sign with another team. Once that happens, any new free-agent signing has to match up dollar for dollar. This could greatly hinder the Ravens' chances of making a huge splash this offseason.

I checked around this week to get clarity on this complicated rule, which is in place for the final eight teams that advanced to the divisional round. This is another layer of protection by the NFL to prevent free agency from getting out of hand during an uncapped year.

Baltimore is the only AFC North team affected by this rule. The other seven teams are the New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts, who will host the Ravens in Saturday's playoff game.