|Ravens roundup: Defense could face major rebuilding in offseason||01.16.13 at 1:39 pm ET|
The retiring Ray Lewis has grabbed the headlines, but the Ravens couldn’t have made it this far without the contributions of the rest of their defense. However, this postseason could be the last time linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Cary Williams suit up for Baltimore, as all three are unrestricted free agents this offseason. Depending on how contract negotiations go with quarterback Joe Flacco, whose rookie contract expires after this season, it could be hard for the Ravens to retain even one of that trio.
Kruger had a career-high nine sacks in the regular season and has 2½ more in the playoffs. His skill set could land him an offer in the $35 million to $40 million range that the Ravens likely can’t match.
“Paul’s setting himself up for the future,” Ravens strong safety Bernard Pollard said. “I think he has a good shot at breaking the bank because this league, this team, we want pass rushers. We want guys who can rush the quarterback and Paul is a heck of a guy to do that.”
Ellerbe had 89 tackles and 4½ sacks this season, setting himself up to step into Lewis’ place as the latter retires.
Williams rejected a three-year, $15 million contract extension offer from the Ravens before the season, and he looks ready to test the free agent market after 75 tackles, four interceptions and 17 pass deflections.
FLACCO’S AGENT CONSIDERS QB ‘ELITE’
In the wake of two dominant performances against the Broncos and Colts, Flacco has established himself — at least in the mind of his agent, Joe Linta – as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
“I’ve been the one putting him on a pedestal saying Joe’s a top-five, elite quarterback, and he’s proving it,” Linta told The Baltimore Sun. “He’s in the rarified air of having already won seven playoff games in his short career. He’s really demonstrating that he’s one of the top guys out there.”
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