The Ravens are rightfully basking in their Super Bowl victory, but behind the scenes, work on the 2013 season has already begun. The personnel staff has already spent countless hours scouting players via tape and was at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this past week.
General manager Ozzie Newsome and his staff also must deal with free agency, the salary cap, and the enormous issue of Joe Flacco's contract status. Newsome made clear at the 'State of the Ravens' news conference after the season that the Ravens do not expect to restructure a lot of contracts as they did after the previous Super Bowl title. Translation: There is likely to be significant roster upheaval this offseason.
Over the past couple of weeks, we've taken a look at each Ravens position group to see who is likely to come back, who is likely to be gone, and what the ramifications are.
Links to the the offensive side of the ball can be found here. We wrapped up the defense yesterday with the safeties. (The rest of the defense can be found there.) Today, we finish with the specialists.
You can find more on the terminology (unrestricted vs. restricted free agents, etc.) here. Note that for this analysis, we look only at players who were on the final 53-man roster and injured reserve.
Unrestricted free agents: None
Restricted free agents: Morgan Cox
Exclusive-rights free agents: None
Under contract: Sam Koch, Justin Tucker
The Ravens special teams group is in good hands -- or more accurately -- good feet with the return of kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch.
The Ravens' decision to keep Tucker over Billy Cundiff proved to be one of the best of the season. As a rookie, Tucker showed not only a long, strong leg but poise beyond his years. He finished 30-for-33 in the regular season, including 4-for-4 from beyond 50 yards. His 56-yarder at Philadelphia is tied for the longest in franchise history.
As for pressure, Tucker hit three game-winners this season, including a 47-yarder in the second overtime to win the AFC Divisional Round game at Denver. He also beat New England at the buzzer in the regular season, and hit a 38-yarder in overtime to beat San Diego -- this after making a 38-yarder on the final play of regulation to force overtime.
Koch, who served as Tucker's holder, was again steady and reliable this season, his seventh with the Ravens. He averaged 47.1 yards on 83 punts in the regular season -- which ranked 12th in the league -- with a net of 40.8. Koch, who will be 31 next season, didn't have a great showing in the playoffs, but he's signed through 2015 and isn't going anywhere.
Morgan Cox is a restricted free agent, but it's likely the Ravens will re-sign him as well. The best thing you can say about Cox is that he was hardly ever noticed, which is clearly the goal of any long-snapper.
Tucker frequently talked about the routine and rhythm that he, Koch as holder and Cox as snapper established, and there's no reason the Ravens want to tinker with that.