Here are the moves the Baltimore Ravens should consider when free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday:
Make it a priority to sign Jimmy Graham: The New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers are considered the front-runners for Graham, but the Ravens aren't out of the running. Baltimore has had talks with Graham. The Ravens should put a higher premium on adding a difference-maker at tight end than at wide receiver. Joe Flacco loves throwing to tight ends, whether it's Todd Heap or Dennis Pitta or even 37-year-old Benjamin Watson (who led Baltimore in receptions this past season). Since entering the NFL in 2008, Flacco has targeted tight ends on 1,090 passes. Only Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady have thrown more to tight ends. Plus, Graham is a red zone monster. His 10 regular-season touchdowns led all NFL tight ends last season and ranked second only to DeAndre Hopkins.
Add a value receiver: The Ravens face a challenge because the other receiver-needy teams, such as the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns, have substantially more cap room. If the Ravens want to revamp their wide receiver group, as general manager Ozzie Newsome suggested, it's going to take more than one free-agent signing. The key for the second receiver signing is finding a bargain. Baltimore has been linked to Indianapolis' Donte Moncrief, which makes sense. Moncrief is coming off a season in which he produced a career-worst 26 catches and two touchdowns. Baltimore can buy low on a player with good upside. Moncrief is 24 with size (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) and speed (runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds). Others who could be on the Ravens' radar: Terrelle Pryor, Paul Richardson, Danny Amendola and Taylor Gabriel.
Keep track of the cap cuts at wide receiver: The Ravens have traditionally filled the void at wide receiver by signing veterans released by other teams, from Derrick Mason to Steve Smith to Mike Wallace. This year, Baltimore should keep an eye on Green Bay. The Packers could let go of Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb, both of whom would fit with the Ravens. Tennessee's Rishard Matthews and the New York Jets' Jermaine Kearse are also candidates to get cut. Given the Ravens' limited cap room and history, this route might prove to be the most likely one.
Find an experienced backup quarterback as insurance: The expectation is that Baltimore is going to move on from Ryan Mallett, the backup for two-plus seasons who is an unrestricted free agent. The Ravens' No. 2 quarterback could eventually be a rookie drafted in one of the first four rounds, but Baltimore has to have a safety net in case the young passer shows he's not ready to be the primary backup right away. The Ravens would likely look at a lower-level backup, such as Brandon Weeden, or two quarterbacks who have already worked out for the team (Matt McGloin and Ryan Nassib).