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michael89156

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: January 16, 2013, 12:00:01 AM



With salary cap issues, Ravens might not be able to keep three young defenders

Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Cary Williams pivotal for team's Super Bowl bid, but they might be playing elsewhere after this season




By Aaron Wilson, The Baltimore Sun
10:23 p.m. EST, January 15, 2013



Outside linebacker Paul Kruger emerged as a dangerous pass rusher this season. Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe tapped into his potential as a versatile three-down defender, proving capable of chasing down running backs or blitzing quarterbacks. Cornerback Cary Williams played well while guarding opponents' top receivers after Lardarius Webb tore his anterior cruciate ligament.
 
Although all three young defenders are in their prime and pivotal to the Ravens' bid to win the Super Bowl heading into Sunday's AFC championship game against the New England Patriots, this could be their final game playing for the AFC North champions.
 
Due to a tight salary-cap situation that could become even more problematic if the Ravens are unable to hammer out a long-term deal with quarterback Joe Flacco to avoid using a $14.6 million franchise tag to retain him, the team could struggle to even retain one of the defensive trio. The salary cap isn't expected to go up much from the $120.6 million level of this past season.

"When a team has success like the Ravens, they're always going to feel better about extending their guys if they can," said former Green Bay Packers vice president and chief negotiator Andrew Brandt, an NFL business analyst for ESPN. "At the end of the day, it comes down to decisions made after the emotion of the season has died down. They're difficult choices about a group of good, young players.
 
"They've got quality players, but the key for them is prioritizing. Beyond Flacco, where do you spend your energy and money? They've obviously got some tough choices facing them."

Williams gambled on himself before the season by rejecting the Ravens' offer of a three-year, $15 million contract extension.
 
He's expected to make more than that as a free agent, possibly in another NFL city, following a respectable season where he had 75 tackles, four interceptions and 17 pass deflections.
 
With two interceptions against Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in last Saturday's game in the AFC divisional round, Corey Graham is proving to be a capable second cornerback if Williams leaves. Plus, Webb is expected to be recovered by next season.

Williams isn't giving up hope on staying in Baltimore, but he is realistic about the situation.
 
"Most importantly is to impress these guys," Williams said. "If it impresses others, that's cool as well."

The Anti-Java

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#1 : January 16, 2013, 12:51:40 AM

Cary Williams is a decent player, ProFootballFocus has him rated middle of the pack in their free agent CB ratings.


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