Which Ravens player will become the voice of top-ranked defense?

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Eric Weddle was cut. C.J. Mosley didn't get the franchise tag. Terrell Suggs is headed to free agency for the first time in his career.

These three players have combined for 460 NFL starts and 17 Pro Bowls. Weddle, Mosley and Suggs also have teamed up to become the core leaders on the best defense in the NFL.

Suggs has been the face of the Baltimore Ravens' defense for the past six seasons, taking over Ray Lewis' role in giving emotional pregame speeches. Weddle and Mosley were the defensive playcallers and helped put teammates in the right positions before the ball was snapped.

If the Ravens are unable to bring any of them back, the challenge goes beyond filling the void of experience and proven talent. Who becomes the defense’s signal-caller and the extension of the coaching staff on the field? Who makes sure there is no confusion and everyone is on the right page? Who speaks to the defense in the huddle when the game is on the line?

Ultimately, who takes over as the voice of the league's top-ranked defense?

The last time Baltimore faced such a question was 2013, when the city lost two of the most respected defensive leaders in the game. Lewis retired and Ed Reed left in free agency, but the Ravens had the next faces of the defense in place with Suggs and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

Who will take the reigns if Suggs and Mosley sign elsewhere in free agency next week? On the day Weddle officially got cut, he pointed at safety Tony Jefferson and outside linebacker Matthew Judon as the next leaders.

"It's their time," Weddle said. "They've learned from us older guys and it's a revolving door in that sense. Those guys got to step up. There's no doubt. I know they will."

Jefferson is entering his third season after being one of Baltimore's top free-agent signings in 2017. In his fourth NFL season, Judon is an emerging star and could be the most complete defender on the team.

This has to be the Ravens' contingency plan, although they might not have to use it. Baltimore has moved on from Weddle, but the team has not written off Mosley or Suggs.

Baltimore is going to make a strong effort to keep Mosley. The Ravens want Suggs to finish out his remarkable career in Baltimore, and Suggs would like to be one of those "Raven for life" players like Lewis and Jonathan Ogden.

Suggs carries a larger than life persona and fiery words. Mosley is more reserved, but he's been described as the tone-setter by defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale.

Losing Mosley, Weddle and Suggs would be a hit to Baltimore's defense in terms of production. They've recorded 2,548 career tackles. But what the Ravens would miss the most is their guidance.

"The guys that are there, they understand and they know what to do," Weddle said. "It obviously would hurt but life goes on. There will be a void, but guys will step up."