Ravens' position analysis: Linebackers


The Baltimore Ravens' team page continues to a take a position-by-position review of the team's 2013 season and give a sneak peek of what lies ahead:


Under contract (2014 salary-cap number): OLB Terrell Suggs ($12.4 million), ILB Jameel McClain ($4.4M), OLB Elvis Dumervil ($3.375M), OLB Courtney Upshaw ($1.444M), OLB Arthur Brown ($807,780), OLB John Simon ($591,413), OLB Pernell McPhee ($681,140).

2014 free agents: ILB Daryl Smith (unrestricted), ILB Albert McClellan (restricted), ILB Josh Bynes (exclusive rights), OLB Adrian Hamilton (exclusive rights), OLB D.J. Bryant (exclusive rights).

The good: Smith made everyone forget that Ray Lewis was gone. He led the Ravens with 123 tackles and finished with five sacks, three interceptions, 19 passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Suggs and Dumervil combined for 19.5 sacks, which was nearly half of the team's total. McClain made an admirable comeback from a spinal cord contusion and recorded 52 tackles in 10 games.

The bad: Suggs disappeared in the second half of the season, contributing 20 tackles and one sack in his final eight games. Dumervil was equally non-effective with nine tackles and one sack in his last six games. Brown was projected to start as a rookie, but he was limited to passing downs.

The money: The Ravens want to sign Suggs to an extension to reduce his $12.4 million cap hit and increase his chances of retiring as a Raven. It'll be interesting to see whether the Ravens can re-sign Smith. He exceeded expectations but he'll turn 32 in March. The Ravens are expected to cut McClain because they can free up $3.2 million in cap space.

Draft priority: Low, at this point. If the Ravens can't reach an extension with Suggs and decide to release him, the need for an edge rusher increases significantly. But right now, linebacker is a low priority. The Ravens are banking on Brown to step up and fill McClain's starting spot. There is solid depth (and quality special teams play) from the likes of Bynes, McClellan and Simon.