Kruger's value keeps escalating

Kruger's value keeps escalating
January 7, 2013, 11:00 am
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Kruger: Colts win is one of the "top games I've been apart of"

The future is now for Paul Kruger, though the Ravens linebacker isn’t trying to focus on it too much.

He played a stellar game in Sunday's 24-9 win vs. the Indianapolis Colts. Kruger had 2.5 sacks, forced quarterback Andrew Luck to fumble twice, had a pass break-up and knocked him down 5 times.

Kruger has been in and out of the starting lineup and plays primarily in pass situations. He led the Ravens with 9 sacks in the regular season.

He was slowed by a back injury that forced him to sit out Week 2 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, and he slipped on the depth chart. But after having a career high of 5.5 sacks last year, Kruger has had five consecutive games with at least one sack in his fourth season.

“Honestly, I could’ve done a lot more. The first half of the season I didn’t play the way I wanted to,” he said of having just 1 sack after Week 3 and going on a four-game drought late in the season. “I was kind of banged up. I was able to show some of the stuff I can do. I’m glad it came to this point because I’ve been fighting for a couple years to get on the field and show my skill. Finally, it’s all coming together. “

Kruger is a free agent at the end of the season, and at this rate the cost of retaining him will get more costly for the Ravens, who will gain some relief when Ray Lewis retires.

Lewis has two years remaining on his contract, but after his signing bonus is pro-rated, the Ravens  will save $4.3 million for the 2013-14 season in what will be is an otherwise tight salary cap year. They still have to work out an extension with quarterback Joe Flacco and their best defensive player all season, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, is a free agent, too.

Safety Bernard Pollard keeps reminding Kruger that as he keeps performing, it’ll mean a bigger contract for him somewhere, even if it’s not Baltimore.

“That dude is making money,” Pollard said. “That guy is playing ball. Kruger is setting things up. I’m so proud of him to step up the way he’s been stepping up. Come in and help is team out, it’s truly been phenomenal and I’m just excited for him.”

The demand for Kruger may be so high in free agency that the Ravens might have to let him go just like linebacker Jarret Johnson after last season. His value in the free market skyrocketed and Johnson now plays for the San Diego Chargers.

“I would love to continue to be a Raven,” Kruger said. “That’s all I’m thinking about.”