- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Baltimore Ravens have been busy in the first week of free agency, signing four players in the first four days and addressing some major needs.
Left tackle, check. Eugene Monroe signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract on March 11.
Middle linebacker, check. Daryl Smith reached a four-year, $16.1 million deal on Friday.
Wide receiver, another check. Steve Smith a three-year, $11.5 million deal on Friday.
So, what's left? Here are the Ravens' remaining priorities:
1. Free safety: If the season started today (it's actually 174 days away), the Ravens would start Omar Brown opposite Matt Elam. This is why free safety ranks as the Ravens' top priority. Miami's Chris Clemons is the best remaining free-agent safety. The other options are Atlanta's Thomas DeCoud and Denver's Champ Bailey, who would convert from cornerback.
2. Guard or offensive tackle: Essentially, the Ravens have to figure out whether Kelechi Osemele is playing left guard or right tackle. That will be determined by whether the Ravens add a guard or a tackle. It's typically easier (and cheaper) to find a guard in free agency and the draft. The worst-case scenario is keeping Osemele at left guard and starting Rick Wagner, a fifth-round pick from a year ago, at right tackle.
3. Center: The Ravens named bulking up on the interior of the offense line as one of their priorities. The problem is, the free-agent market for centers was thin at the start of free agency and has only gotten worse. Cleveland's Alex Mack got the transition tag, and Evan Dietrich-Smith (the top unrestricted free-agent center) signed with the Buccaneers. This leaves the New York Giants' David Baas, Cincinnati's Kyle Cook and New Orleans' Brian de la Puente as the top options.
4. Cornerback: The Ravens will lose only one of their top five cornerbacks, but not having Corey Graham hurts the Ravens. He was a nickel back who played just as much as the starters. At this point, Chykie Brown is the favorite to take over that spot, and Asa Jackson will compete for the job. No one knows whether either one will be able to fill Graham's void. The Ravens should sign a veteran for insurance.
5. Tight end: Right now, the Ravens have Dennis Pitta and two practice squad players (Matt Furstenburg and Nathan Overbay). Tight end and safety are the Ravens' thinnest group, in terms of experience. There had been talk of the Ravens showing interest in Owen Daniels, but the Ravens could look for a more moderately priced backup or draft one. If the Ravens want a blocking tight end, they can sign Carolina's Ben Hartsock, Seattle's Kellen Davis or the New York Giants' Bear Pascoe.
6. Defensive lineman: It was no surprise that the Ravens lost Arthur Jones in free agency. Brandon Williams, a third-round pick from a year ago, and DeAngelo Tyson, who shows flashes of strong play last season, are both expected to play more significant roles. The concern for the Ravens is depth. If the Ravens don't re-sign Terrence Cody, they'll need someone else to contribute in the rotation.
7. Running back: There are question marks at this position because Ray Rice is facing a domestic violence assault charge and Bernard Pierce won't practice until training camp because of offseason shoulder surgery. This could be a situation where the Ravens look for a young running back in the middle rounds of the draft. If the Ravens don't find any value on them in the draft, they can pick up a veteran who is still out there on the market in May or June for a bargain. The top free agents remaining are LeGarrette Blount, Michael Bush, Andre Brown and James Starks.
The Baltimore Ravens have been busy in the first week of free agency, signing four players in the first four days and addressing some major needs.Left tackle, check.