Is a linebacker next?

Is a linebacker next?
March 29, 2013, 3:45 pm
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Huff has big shoes to fill at safety

The Ravens have addressed needs at defensive line and at safety in free agency, signing veterans Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Elvis Dumervil and, most recently, safety Michael Huff.

The moves have met a couple of the team's stated core objectives of the offseason, and have also placated a fan base that appeared to be in panic mode after the Ravens lost six defensive starters from their Super Bowl team.

One glaring hole remains, though: inside linebacker. The Ravens have lost Ray Lewis to retirement and Dannell Ellerbe to the Dolphins via free agency, and Jameel McClain remains a question mark because of his spinal cord injury.

Might the Ravens strike one more time in free agency for a veteran inside linebacker? It's certainly possible, though there isn't a whole lot of cap room. The Ravens have proved again this offseason that patience pays off, and the 'right player, right price' mantra that drives this franchise could yield yet another starter before all is said and done.

Here are some of the inside linebackers still out there on the free agent market:

KARLOS DANSBY: The former Dolphins linebacker was released by the Dolphins after they signed Ellerbe. The fact that he had the highest cap number on the team ($8.75 million) helped drive the decision. Dansby, 31, is a nine-year NFL veteran who spent six seasons with the Cardinals and then the past three in Miami. He averaged more than 100 tackles in his three seasons with the Dolphins.

DARYL SMITH:  Smith, 31, is a nine-year NFL veteran who has played his entire career in Jacksonville. He missed virtually all of last season with a groin injury. But that is likely to keep his price down, and a relatively cheap veteran seems to fit right in with the Ravens blueprint. Smith had 107 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks in his last full season in 2011.

BRIAN URLACHER: Urlacher, 34, insists he still something left in the tank, but he walked away from the Bears' one-year, $2 million offer. Signing Urlacher would seem to run counter to the Ravens' apparent mission to get younger and faster, but at least one person thinks it might happen: One betting site lists the Ravens as 9-to-4 favorites to land Ulracher.

BART SCOTT: The former Raven is available after he was caught up in the Jets salary cap purge. The cut was predictable, though, as Scott's skills have declined and he was to count $8.7 million against the cap. Scott will turn 33 before the season, and it's hard to see the Ravens bringing him back.