The Baltimore Ravens began their offseason by making it clear they were moving on from Joe Flacco and transitioning to Lamar Jackson. Joe Flacco was jettisoned out of Baltimore faster than a crab cake. Baltimore is getting a mid-round draft pick for Flacco. New general manager Eric DeCosta was quoted as saying that he wants to be smart with the Ravens money and that he wants to re-sign some of their key players, but he won't put the Ravens in situations that they won't have money to spend.

Soon after the Flacco trade, Michael Crabtree was released one year after he signed with the team. However, despite best efforts, the Ravens are still going to have to deal with dead money on their books. Joe Flacco's imminent trade will cost the Ravens $16 million either this year or $8 million over the next two years, but his trade gives them an extra $10 million in cap savings.

Michael Crabtree's release gives the Ravens an extra $4.7 million dollars to use.

With these two transactions, the Ravens will now have $34.6 million dollars total for free agents and rookies they draft. So how does a team notorious for not overpaying for free agents and with usually very little money to spend, build around a second-year quarterback? You continue to cut players.

Earlier this morning the Baltimore Ravens continued getting rid of veteran leadership when it was reported that all-pro safety Eric Weddle was released after three seasons.

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Kevin Patra, an Around the NFL writer, says the move will save the Ravens $7.5 million. Eric Weddle said, "It's their decision, and I respect that. No hard feelings." Kevin Patra writes that Weddle told Jamison Hensley of ESPN, "DeCosta said 'we're releasing you,' and said some nice things about me. That was it." Weddle also reported to Patra that the Ravens made no indication of re-signing him.

According to Eric Weddle, the Ravens didn't ask him to take a pay cut, so any chance of him staying is officially over.

This doesn't come as a surprise. With Weddle's release, the free agent safety pool is now very deep. It includes players like Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, Kenny Vacarro, and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. Since joining the Ravens, Eric Weddle made three consecutive pro bowls. His release was more about age (34) than playing time.

Ravens need to re-sign players but have to spend wisely

Now that the Ravens know what direction they're going in, they must re-sign some of their young players.

The most important being C.J. Mosley. Eric DeCosta could've used the franchise tag on Mosley to ensure he doesn't leave, but more importantly, by applying the tag, Mosley and DeCosta could've taken until July to work out a long term deal. Since no tag was applied, it would cost between $15 and $16 million for a linebacker as the Ravens must get C.J. Mosley to sign at a number that works for them.

Kevin Eck, a writer for the Ravens gave his thoughts on the situation.

He writes, "Are the Ravens making the right move by not franchising Mosley? What are the odds Mosley ends up playing elsewhere next season?" He goes into detail about what a potential deal would look like by looking at other highly paid linebackers. Eck says, "Under the franchise tag, Mosley would've earned $15.4 million this season, while the highest-paid inside linebacker in terms of base salary is Seattle's Bobby Wagner at $10.5 million. Compare that to Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers who is the highest-paid inside linebacker overall at $12.4 million."

So if the Ravens truly want to keep Mosley they must get him between $10 and $12 million or they risk losing him. But if you look further since Mosley and Kuechly both came into the league in 2014, they are the only players with 500 tackles, eight sacks, and eight interceptions, it's evident that Mosley could very well leave. While Mosley himself has said many times he wants to stay in Baltimore his price may be too high.

Ravens Wire reporter Matthew Stevens believes that by not using the franchise tag the Ravens are making the gamble that Mosley will re-sign. But what if he doesn't? If another team swoops in and steals Mosley away, it will be one of the stupidest, if not the stupidest move ever in the history of the Ravens. Stevens writes, "When a top free agent like Mosley hits the market, teams swarm like sharks to bring a core piece to their roster."

Furthermore, whatever his asking price is, he will most certainly get and possibly more. But in contrast to that Jamison Hensley looks at Mosley's pending free agency from a historical perspective. Historically, the Ravens have never let a first-round pick that's made multiple pro bowls leave to go elsewhere once their rookie deals expired. That's twenty-two years of consistency in re-signing players, but there's always a first time.

So, if Mosley leaves what do the Ravens do? They could re-sign Zadarius Smith, but he may leave because he will most certainly get paid also. And to top it off and make it a clean sweep of linebackers leaving, the Ravens could also lose the franchise sack leader Terrell Suggs in free agency, but it seems unlikely they will. That would be three top linebackers for one franchise and that would undoubtedly set the Ravens back for years.

Ravens may have to adjust draft needs based on Mosley and linebackers

So, if this truly does happen the only recourse the Ravens organization has is to use the draft to retool the linebacker core. But, by the time the Ravens draft late in the first round, the top linebacker's could be gone, so Baltimore might have to wait until later rounds. Besides, the Ravens also have glaring needs at wide receiver, running back and now the secondary. If the Ravens stay in the first round and one of the coveted receivers falls to them, do they take him or do they go offensive line or running back to help Lamar Jackson develop.

The NFL draft will no doubt have its share of surprises, but for the first time in history, the Ravens may have the biggest surprise of all - what to do if they lose their best defensive player in Mosley, their all-time sack leader in Suggs, and young linebacker Zadarius Smith. The draft most certainly will put the Ravens in rebuild mode if this happens.

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