The Baltimore Ravens don't expect to bring back free agent outside linebacker Paul Kruger this offseason. Kruger led the team with nine sacks last year and is going to get a contract upwards of $10 million per season according to Jason Cole. ESPN's Ed Werder reported on SportsCenter that Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is not prepared to pay Kruger like one of the NFL's premier pass rushers.
Kruger can play defensive end in a 4-3 or outside linebacker in a 3-4 and should have several suitors after his career year in 2012. Kruger only started six games for the Ravens, but posted career highs with 42 tackles, six passes defended, and a team-high nine sacks. In the playoffs Kruger set himself up to earn a lot of money with 4.5 sacks and 14 tackles.
There are several free agent pass rushers on the market, but Kruger is among the best of them and at age 27 has a lot of gas left in the tank. Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril and Tampa Bay Buccaneers end Michael Bennett are the other premier young pass rushers on the market, with Dwight Freeney and Osi Umenyiora among the older big names available. Kruger may have the best ability of the bunch as a 3-4 outside linebacker, raising his value and making him a potentially hot commodity.
The Ravens don't see the need to pay Kruger top dollar with Courtney Upshaw waiting in the wings. Re-signing middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is their top priority now that a deal with Joe Flacco has been reached.