NFL Nation: 2014 Ravens free-agent rankings

The Baltimore Ravens took some punch out of the free-agent rankings countdown when they signed tight end Dennis Pitta, who was No. 1 among the team's 13 unrestricted free agents.

I will still keep Pitta in the rankings because he was technically a free agent this offseason, and I've added the two salary-cap casualties (linebacker Jameel McClain and fullback Vonta Leach) to the list as well.

As always, click here for's free-agent tracker which will keep you up-to-date with all the moves from around the league.

Here are the final 2014 rankings for the Ravens' free agents:

1. Dennis Pitta, tight end: Signed a five-year, $32 million contract on Feb. 28 that includes $16 million guaranteed ($11 million signing bonus).

[+] EnlargeEugene Monroe
David Banks/Getty ImagesEugene Monroe is expected to generate a lot of interest in free agency and could be too expensive for the Ravens to re-sign.
2. Eugene Monroe, offensive tackle: One of the top offensive tackles available in free agency. His age (26 years old) and upside along with the increase in the NFL salary cap could result in top-five left tackle money for Monroe.

3. Jacoby Jones, wide receiver-returner: In two seasons with the Ravens, Jones proved he is a dynamic playmaker and a game-changer. He is an explosive returner but a one-dimensional wide receiver. The fact that Devin Hester and Trindon Holliday are free agents won't help Jones' value.

4. Arthur Jones, defensive tackle: He's improved his play with each passing season, making an impact as a run-stopper and interior pass-rusher. Jones is expected to be pursued by multiple teams, which means he's unlikely to return to the Ravens.

5. Daryl Smith, middle linebacker: The Ravens are trying to re-sign him before free agency starts, but there are a lot of teams looking for middle linebackers. In his first season with the Ravens, Smith led the Ravens with 123 tackles and finished with five sacks, three interceptions, 19 passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

6. Michael Oher, offensive tackle: He never reached the expectations of a first-round pick. Oher's strengths are durability and versatility. The biggest knocks against him are false starts and pass protection. He's considered the contingency plan for the Ravens if they can't re-sign Monroe.

7. Jameel McClain, inside linebacker: The Ravens know he can still play. They just didn't think he was worth a $3.2 million salary this year. McClain could return if the Ravens can't re-sign Daryl Smith. But there's no guarantee he will come back. McClain is currently visiting teams.

8. James Ihedigbo, safety: He was among the biggest surprises on the Ravens defense last season. The Ravens, though, are moving in a different direction by shifting Matt Elam to strong safety. The team would be interested in keeping Ihedigbo as a core special-teams player, but he'll likely want to find a place where there's a better chance to play defense.

9. Corey Graham, cornerback: The Ravens won't be the only team interested in Graham, a starter for the Super Bowl team and Baltimore's interception leader last season. Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, the former Ravens secondary coach, may want to bring him to the Lions.

10. Ed Dickson, tight end: His play declined the past two seasons, especially with dropped passes. Dickson doesn't expect to return, and a fresh start could help him.

11. Terrence Cody, nose tackle: He was a disappointing second-round pick who never established himself as an impact player. It was telling in 2012 when he was beaten out by Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who was out of football for a year, for a starting job.

12. Vonta Leach, fullback: The three-time Pro Bowl lead blocker was phased out of the offense when the Ravens decided to spread out teams with three receivers. Leach has an uncertain future considering his age (32) and the declining interest in fullbacks.

13. Jeromy Miles, safety: He's a solid special-teams player who has never developed as a safety. Miles will land with a team that puts an emphasis on special teams. So, don't rule out a return to the Ravens.

14. Bernard Scott, running back: He was a stop-gap signing when the Ravens needed a third running back. The Ravens need to upgrade that spot this season, and they probably regret cutting Bobby Rainey at the end of the preseason.

15. Dallas Clark, tight end: He turns 35 before the season starts, and his 31 catches were his fewest since 2006. No one would be surprised if Clark retired.
Let's continue the ranking of the Baltimore Ravens' 13 unrestricted free agents:

No. 2: Eugene Monroe

Position: Offensive tackle

The good: It was a significant upgrade when the Ravens replaced Bryant McKinnie with Monroe. Known for his athleticism and consistency, Monroe is considered one of the top two offensive tackles available in free agency, along with Kansas City's Branden Albert. Monroe has the agility to handle speed-rushers coming off the edge, as well as move down the line in zone-blocking schemes. Monroe is considered a good fit for what offensive line coach Juan Castillo wants to do.

The bad: Monroe's level of intensity was questioned during his time in Jacksonville. He's not a Pro Bowl player, but his value is expected to be inflated because he's a 26-year-old left tackle with upside. If Monroe can get $10 million per season, he would be among the top five highest-paid left tackles in the NFL.

The bottom line: With tight end Dennis Pitta retained, the Ravens' priority on the offensive side of the ball is to get Monroe re-signed before free agency begins Tuesday. This could be difficult to accomplish, even though Monroe enjoyed his time with the Ravens and his wife's family lives in the Baltimore area. Teams like the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals are expected to aggressively pursue offensive tackles in free agency. The Ravens might have to outbid multiple teams to keep him.
Let's continue the ranking of the Baltimore Ravens' 13 unrestricted free agents:

No. 4: Arthur Jones

Position: Defensive tackle

The good: Jones steadily got better each season. A fifth-round draft pick in 2010 (157th overall player taken), he was arguably the best defensive lineman on the Ravens last season. Jones is a top-notch run-defender who can get to the quarterback. His 8.5 sacks over the past two seasons is two more than Haloti Ngata in that same span.

The bad: He was a full-time starter for one season, totaling 20 starts in four seasons. No one knows how effective he'll be without Ngata drawing double teams. Jones also had a heart issue at the start of the 2013 season, which caused him to miss the season opener.

The bottom line: Jones is generally ranked among the top 25 free agents available. He's going to get paid but likely not by the Ravens. The Dolphins and Jets have been linked as potential interested teams. The Ravens showed last year they weren't going to overpay to keep players they developed when they let Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe sign elsewhere.

Ravens free-agent rankings: No. 6

February, 28, 2014
Let's continue the ranking of the Baltimore Ravens' 13 unrestricted free agents:


Position: Offensive tackle

The good: Even though Oher's life story inspired the movie "The Blind Side," one of his strengths was versatility. He played left and right tackle throughout his career, stepping into the spot the Ravens needed him the most. The Ravens have always been able to count on Oher for his toughness and durability, and they consider him a throwback type of player. He has never missed a game in his career and became the first Ravens rookie offensive lineman since Jonathan Ogden in 1996 to start all 16 games.

The bad: Oher hasn't lived up to the expectations of being the 23rd overall pick from four years ago. He never became a top-notch left tackle and has ended up being an average right tackle. Penalties (24 false starts in his career) and pass protection have long been trouble areas for Oher.

The bottom line: Coach John Harbaugh didn't rule out bringing back both Oher and Eugene Monroe, the team's starting tackles who are scheduled to become free agents. But this seems like a long shot. It's more likely that only one will return. If the Ravens can't re-sign Monroe because he's too expensive, the Ravens would bring back Oher to play left tackle, which won't be popular with the team's fan base.

Ravens free-agent rankings: No. 8

February, 26, 2014
Let's continue the ranking of the Baltimore Ravens' 13 unrestricted free agents:


Position: Cornerback

The good: A Pro Bowl special-teams player in Chicago, Graham became a starting cornerback on the Ravens' Super Bowl team. He made the two biggest defensive plays in the 2012 AFC divisional playoff game in Denver, where he returned an interception for a touchdown and picked off Peyton Manning again in overtime to set up the game-winning score. Last season, he led the Ravens with four interceptions as the nickelback and broke up a career-high 12 passes.

The bad: Graham doesn't have the size or speed to be a full-time starting cornerback in the NFL. He struggled mightily against Wes Welker in the season opener last year. Graham turns 29 before the season begins.

The bottom line: The Ravens consider Graham one of their priorities in free agency, although he won't rank as high as tight end Dennis Pitta. By keeping Graham, the Ravens would retain their top three cornerbacks and maintain chemistry in the secondary. Graham is also an excellent special-teams player. But there's no guarantee that he's coming back. Coach John Harbaugh said Graham could follow the likes of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe as someone who played so well for the Ravens that he'll draw interest elsewhere.

Ravens free-agent rankings: No. 9

February, 25, 2014
Let's continue the ranking of the Baltimore Ravens' 13 unrestricted free agents:


Position: Tight end

The good: In 2011, Dickson finished third on the team with 54 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns. His breakout game came during that season, when he caught 10 passes (a regular-season record for a Ravens tight end) for 79 yards and two touchdowns at Seattle. Dickson started 41 games over the past three seasons because he was the most well-rounded tight end on the team.

The bad: Dickson failed to live up to expectations as the 70th overall pick of the 2010 draft. That was 25 picks ahead of Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham. Dickson's career numbers of 111 catches and seven touchdowns were the result of inconsistency and bad hands. Unlike Dennis Pitta, who was taken one round after him, Dickson didn't significantly improve each season. He seemed to get worse the past two years.

The bottom line: Dickson told reporters at the end of the season that he doesn't expect to return to the Ravens, and it's hard to argue with him. The Ravens are expected to keep Pitta and add another tight end in the draft. Dickson needs a fresh start.

Ravens free-agent rankings: No. 11

February, 21, 2014
Let's continue the ranking of the Baltimore Ravens' 13 unrestricted free agents:


Position: Safety

The good: In his first season with the Ravens, Miles finished third on the Ravens with eight special teams tackles despite not playing in the first four games. He joined the Ravens after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals. Miles had been one of the Bengals' top players on coverage teams, recording double-digit tackles on special teams in 2011 and 2012.

The bad: His biggest blunder came when we was flagged for being offside on a critical onside kick in Pittsburgh. He made the mistake even though he was running next to kicker Justin Tucker. Coach John Harbaugh called the error the "unforgivable part" of the play. Miles also has never developed as a safety.

The bottom line: The Ravens picked him up on waivers, which meant they paid him his restricted tender of $1.3 million last season. That tells me that the Ravens really wanted Miles to bolster their special teams. Miles isn't a priority in free agency, but I wouldn't be surprised if he ended back with the Ravens.

Ravens free-agent rankings: No. 12

February, 20, 2014
Let's continue the ranking of the Baltimore Ravens' 13 unrestricted free agents:


Position: Running back

The good: Not much to say here. The former Cincinnati Bengals running back played two games after being signed in November. Scott totaled six touches (four carries, two receptions) for 24 yards.

The bad: He was inactive for six weeks. Scott was essentially an insurance policy that didn't need to be used because Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce didn't miss any games in the second half of the season even though they were banged up.

The bottom line: Why is Scott rated above Dallas Clark in the Ravens free-agent rankings? Because Scott has a chance of playing somewhere next season. The Ravens need depth at running back, but Scott was a band-aid for that position last season. The team has to improve the No. 3 spot, and it could do so in the draft.

Ravens free-agent rankings: No. 13

February, 19, 2014
The Baltimore Ravens have 13 unrestricted free agents, if you count wide receiver Brandon Stokley as retired. The Ravens are expected to make more cuts before the start of free agency (March 11), but I will focus my ranking on the 13 who are currently not under contract with the team. Let's start with No. 13 ...


Position: Tight end

The good: Clark gave the Ravens what they expected. When they signed Clark to help soften the loss of Dennis Pitta, I made the comment that 40 catches out of Clark would make it a positive signing. He finished with 31 catches and didn't play the final four games. Clark did come up big at times in the fourth quarter, tying the game in Pittsburgh with a touchdown catch and converting a fourth down in Chicago.

The bad: The Ravens thought they would get more out of Clark in the red zone. He only managed three touchdowns. Also, if you take away his season-opening performance (seven catches for 87 yards), he had 24 catches for 256 yards in his final 11 games. By the end of the season, he looked like a player who had nothing left.

The bottom line: There's a good chance that Clark will follow Stokley's path and retire. He turns 35 before the season starts and his 31 catches were his fewest since 2006. The Ravens are going to need tight ends, but they'll likely re-sign or tag Pitta and add another in the draft. Clark was inactive for the four games Pitta played last season. There's no chance he's returning to the Ravens.