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Free agency could shake up Ravens' O-line, LB corps

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Posted March 04, 2012 @ 1:01 p.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

With RB Ray Rice receiving the franchise tag, the major piece of the Ravens' free-agency puzzle is firmly in place. However, the team has a number of other issues to address, particularly along the offensive line. The Ravens are committed to trying to bring back OLG Ben Grubbs, but that figures to be no easy task, especially if he is unsigned as of the start of the new league year and other clubs can start to get involved. Losing Grubbs would be no small loss to the line. If the Ravens re-sign C Matt Birk to a short-term deal, that position will be reasonably stable for 2012, but the position still will need to be bolstered.

Linebacker is also a position to watch. Two starters, OLB Jarret Johnson and ILB Jameel McClain, will be unrestricted free agents. Were Johnson to depart, Paul Kruger likely would have a strong shot at being the starter. Kruger is more of a pass-rush threat than Johnson, but Johnson's toughness and run-stuffing ability would be missed.

Experienced and versatile, McClain is also a valuable member of the defense. The futures of Johnson and McClain in Baltimore probably comes down to the type of offers they garner elsewhere, the way we hear it.

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