Each day between now and post-Super Bowl Monday, we’ll roll out a get-to-the-point offseason plan for one NFL team. Today, the Ravens; tomorrow, the Jaguars. After that, we’ll see. Here’s our three-point plan for Baltimore:
1. RESTRUCTURE JOE FLACCO’S CONTRACT
When quarterback Joe Flacco bet on himself in 2013, he struck it rich, leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl win and locking up a six-year, $120 million deal. Baltimore structured the deal so Flacco had a manageable cap number for the first three seasons before it ballooned in Year 4, which has arrived. Flacco’s cap number next season is $28.55 million, the second-highest in the league behind that of Saints quarterback Drew Brees. A hit like that would severely hamper GM Ozzie Newsome’s flexibility. Owner Steve Bisciotti has expressed confidence in the past that Flacco will be open to making an adjustment. There’s also the fact that Flacco sustained a season-ending torn ACL in November. How he rehabs will also be a storyline to watch. More on that in a minute …
2. DEVELOP OR ADD A PLAYMAKING RECEIVER
Aiken led the Ravens with 944 receiving yards.
The Ravens spent their 2015 first-round pick on wide receiver Breshad Perriman. The Central Florida product was celebrated for his blazing speed and ability to take the top off a defense but never suited up for a game after suffering a knee injury in the summer. Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman will certainly welcome Perriman to the offense with open arms as he likes to challenge defenses vertically. The team’s leading receivers in 2015 were Kamar Aiken and 36-year-old Steve Smith. The Ravens are desperate for a difference-making playmaker to emerge, but who will that be?
3. GET HEALTHY
Forsett is just one of several Ravens stars recovering from serious injuries.
One of the biggest reasons for the Ravens’ worst season since 2007 was injuries. It’s a part of the game that affects every team, but Baltimore arguably had the worst luck league-wide. In Week 1, linebacker Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles and was placed on the injured reserve. Midway through the season, Smith went down with a torn Achilles, too. Then running back Justin Forsett sustained a gruesome broken arm during the same game in which Flacco tore his ACL and MCL. Flacco underwent surgery to repair the injured ligaments in December and is expected to make a full recovery. The Ravens have said they are hopeful their franchise QB will be ready for training camp, but that, of course, depends on how well he rehabs. The worst thing that could happen is for 2015’s injuries to seep into 2016.