It's time to click open the Baltimore Ravens' Twitter mailbag ...
@jamisonhensley: The big question was whether Gary Kubiak was going to interview in Denver or remain committed as the Ravens' offensive coordinator. Once he agreed, it feels like the meeting is a formality. There's a slim chance that Kubiak doesn't leave for Denver as the Broncos' new head coach. He is long-time friends with general manager John Elway. He has lived in Denver as a player or coach for 20 years. The only way Kubiak comes back to the Ravens is if he and Elway don't see eye-to-eye on personnel (particularly at quarterback) and the coaching staff. But it's not a coincidence that Teryl Austin and Doug Marrone both decided not to interview after Kubiak's name officially entered the Broncos' search. No one wants to be second choice.
@jamisonhensley: If it's a surprise, I probably shouldn't tell you, right? Well, if you really want to know, my prediction for the most surprising move is landing a bona fide No. 1 receiver like free agent Demaryius Thomas. It's going to take a lot of cap room, and the Ravens don't currently have it. And the Ravens aren't known for making a big splash in free agency. I just get the feeling that the Ravens want to capitalize on the momentum of this offensive upswing, and big targets are needed in this version of the West Coast offense, which the Ravens will continue to run with or without Kubiak. Every team in the division has a big playmaker at wide receiver: A.J. Green, Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon. Maybe that's why coach John Harbaugh hinted at Steve Smith coming back in a role where he wouldn't be an every-down receiver.
@jamisonhensley Looking long-term, but do you see the Ravens getting rid of either Yanda or Osemele after 2015 to give Urschel a shot?— Kenny (@bakerspazing) January 14, 2015
@jamisonhensley: Actually, the Ravens should want to keep Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele. I would advocate signing both starting guards to extensions, because they are entering the final years of their contracts. Don't be surprised if rookie fifth-round pick John Urschel is the Ravens' starting center in 2016. The Ravens are essentially married to center Jeremy Zuttah for another season, which would open the door for Urschel the following year. Urschel practiced at center this season, and there is no question he's smart enough to handle the position.
@jamisonhensley Jamison, hearing alot of "we need to draft CB's" but with Ross and Smith returning next season, where is the biggest need?— Otis McGlothlin III (@Rise_N_Conquer) January 14, 2015
@jamisonhensley: It's still cornerback. The Ravens' biggest needs are: cornerback, wide receiver, running back, safety and tight end. Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb are the projected starters, especially if the Ravens can get Webb to take a pay cut. But no one can have any confidence either one will hold up for an entire season based on their injury histories. Sure, you have Asa Jackson, Rashaan Melvin and Danny Gorrer in the mix, but the Ravens need to upgrade if they want to fix the secondary. Aaron Ross has played four games the past two seasons because of injuries. With Steve Spagnuolo gone, there is little chance that Ross will be back. The Ravens need more quality depth at cornerback, and they need to groom another young cornerback behind Smith and Webb. They should take a cornerback in one of the first three rounds.
@jamisonhensley: I was surprised that Marlon Brown didn't play a bigger role in the red zone. Last season, Brown had seven touchdown catches inside the 20-yard line, which more than doubled every player on the Ravens' roster. This season, he wasn't targeted once in the red zone. That's right. No passes in Brown's direction inside the 20-yard line. Brown did struggle in training camp catching the ball, and he doesn't get much separation. But he seemed to come down with most of the passes that Joe Flacco threw at him, especially in the second half of the season. Brown isn't a top-three receiver on this team. The Ravens, though, didn't use him enough, because he does have a role on the team. As far as Torrey Smith's future goes, a lot depends on whether the Ravens target other receivers in free agency.
@jamisonhensley With dire needs at CB and S next year, who starts at SS? I know Harbs wants Hill to lead, but is Elam finished as a starter?— Joey Wolfkill (@jwolfkill3) January 14, 2015
@jamisonhensley: I'm not sure if the starting strong safety is on this team. You're right that the Ravens want Will Hill, who is a restricted free agent, to win the free safety job. Even though he struggled at times tackling, he is a starting-caliber safety in this league. The Ravens were hoping Matt Elam would have developed into a starting strong safety, but he is too much of a liability in tackling and defending the deep pass. Rookie Terrence Brooks looks like he is going to need another year before he battles for a starting job. And Darian Stewart, who started the most at strong safety, is adequate. But the Ravens want to be more than just adequate in the secondary.
@jamisonhensley Any chance the Ravens use the Franchise Tag this offseason?— Preston Donakowski (@Preston_D) January 14, 2015
@jamisonhensley: The Ravens have used the franchise tag often in their history, but I don't see it happening this year. The Ravens' top unrestricted free agents are wide receiver Torrey Smith, running back Justin Forsett and linebacker Pernell McPhee. Smith isn't worth the projected one-year, $12.8 million tag for a wide receiver. The same goes for Forsett and the one-year, $10.9 million tag for running backs. And even though McPhee played well this year, the Ravens can't invest a one-year, $11 million tag on him.