Being Super Bowl champions doesn’t make the Baltimore Ravens too relaxed going into the off-season. There are plenty of important players potentially heading into free agency, and one of them is Paul Kruger, who might end up playing for the Indianapolis Colts.
The two biggest names running out of a contract for the Ravens are Joe Flacco and Ed Reed. Flacco, 28, will be kept, this way or the other. Maybe they’ll use the franchise tag, maybe they’ll eventually find a way to negotiate a long term contract very soon. Ed Reed is a different case, with quite a few team willing to give the All-Pro safety a shot to end his career with them after 11 seasons in Baltimore. Reed has shown interest in the Patriots, but might also end up going to the team closest to his hometown, New Orleans.
Kruger recorded 9 sacks this past season, not to mention 4.5 in the postseason, including two in the Super Bowl. According to Kruger himself (before the Super Bowl), his first intention is to stay with the Ravens, the team he’s played for since being drafted by them in 2009 as a second round pick out of Utah. Still, at 26, being a pass-rusher with his stocks and value on the rise, getting a deal worth $35-$40 million might be too steep for the Ravens, who have quite a lot of players they need to worry about leaving them, including Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams.
What options are there outside? Plenty, but the most likely of teams to try and pick up Kruger if he does hit free agency are the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts, shifting to a 3-4 defense under head coach Chuck Pagano, might be losing Dwight Freeney to free agency, because Freeney wants to go back and play in a 4-3 defense. Pagano was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator in 2011, which was sort of a breakout year for Kruger, getting his first real shot at becoming a permanent starter. Pagano knows the player and knows he fits the system.
If the Ravens can’t find a way and include Kruger in their plans for the future, the Indianapolis Colts might just be the first team who will.