How Ravens can replace departing free agents


The Baltimore Ravens have an additional $8.5 million in salary-cap room after trading defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, and they can now address the losses they've suffered in free agency. Wide receiver Torrey Smith signed with the 49ers, and tight end Owen Daniels reunited with Gary Kubiak in Denver. The Ravens are looking to keep running back Justin Forsett, but he is expected to receive interest from Washington and Atlanta.

Here is a look at prospective replacements for the Ravens in free agency (only Jermaine Gresham is not a salary-cap cut):


Dwayne Bowe: He isn't officially available yet, but he is expected to be released Wednesday. Bowe, 30, is an underachiever who could fit general manager Ozzie Newsome's mantra "right player, right price." He is the sort of big-bodied receiver that the Ravens want to add to their offense, and it's possible Bowe will increase his production when he's catching passes from Joe Flacco instead of Alex Smith. Bowe won't stretch the field but he's willing to catch passes over the middle.

Andre Johnson: Adding Johnson might be a long shot at this point because he's meeting with the Indianapolis Colts. Johnson, who turns 34 in July, is a seven-time Pro Bowler with Hall of Fame credentials. He is the kind of tough and experienced receiver the Ravens tend to pursue. If Johnson doesn't sign with the Colts, the Ravens will likely have to beat out Seattle, New England and Green Bay to get him.

Stevie Johnson: Like Bowe, Johnson hasn't been released. He was reportedly going to get cut this week because he's scheduled to make $5.5 million in base salary, but Johnson remains with the 49ers. Johnson could become available now that the Torrey Smith deal is finalized. He is younger than Bowe and Johnson at 28, and he brings the same size to the receiver position. His price should be relatively low after his receptions have gone down in each of the past two seasons.


Justin Forsett: There's still a good chance Forsett returns to the Ravens. He is a proven fit in the Ravens' stretch zone running attack. The Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins could make a run at Forsett. But his market took a hit when the Colts signed Frank Gore and the New Orleans Saints kept Mark Ingram. If the Ravens can't keep Forsett, their top four free agents will all be playing elsewhere in 2015.

Pierre Thomas: This is not a bad fall-back option. Thomas, 30, ran the same stretch-zone plays in New Orleans, so he's familiar with the system. He is an all-around back who is strong at catching the ball and pass blocking. There's also less wear-and-tear on Thomas because he played in a running back by committee with the Saints. His playoff experience is a bonus.


Jermaine Gresham: He's a solid receiver who will record between 50 and 60 catches a season. Gresham, 26, never lived up to expectations of being a first-round pick with the Bengals, and he sat out two important games at the end of the season due to injuries. He's drawn interest from Oakland and Cleveland, so the Ravens might have to look elsewhere for their starting tight end. It also works against Gresham that he wasn't a salary-cap casualty, who won't count against the team's compensatory picks formula.

Anthony Fasano: He's a blocking specialist who can also make an impact in the red zone. The Chargers released Fasano last month to free up $2 million in salary-cap space. Fasano, 31, hasn't caught more than 40 receptions since 2012, but he's scored at least four touchdowns in four of his past five NFL seasons.

Zach Miller: The question is whether he can reach that level from 2009 and 2010, when Miller caught at least 60 catches. Injuries never allowed Miller to get back on track. He missed 16 of 64 games with Seattle, and he's recovering from his second ankle surgery in less than a year. Miller, 29, was cut after failing a physical. He's reportedly drawn interest from the Patriots.