NEW ORLEANS -- Amid the confetti and tears of joy for the Ravens, they immediately must turn to the future after Sunday’s thrilling 34-31 Super Bowl win vs. the San Francisco 49ers.
Safety Ed Reed, who had an interception of Colin Kaepernick to tie an NFL record with nine for his career in the postseason, may have played his final game after 11 seasons. While Reed has indicated in recent weeks that he wants to remain in Baltimore and that he is certain he will play football for the 2013-14 season doesn't have a contract and likely will test the free-agent market.
But the Ravens, who don’t have much room under a salary cap that isn't expected to grow much from $120.6 million, have some other tough decisions to make with key free agents:
-- CB Cary Williams: When Lardarius Webb went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 6, he had to become the primary cover corner. Despite giving up a few big plays, he has been solid. He finished the season with a team-high 6 interceptions, including a 63-yard return for a TD. Williams rejected a three-year, $15 million deal before the season. The gamble likely will pay off. If the Ravens don’t make him a better offer, another team will.
-- LB Paul Kruger: A team- and career-high 9.5 sacks, and then added 4.5 in the playoffs, the edge rusher will be a hot commodity as he evolved into a three-down player rather than just for pass situations. Kruger was slowed by a back injury to start the season, but he has been on fire since the midseason point. He dropped Kaepernick behind the line of scrimmage twice Sunday.
-- LB Dannell Ellerbe: He’s a versatile defender who can cover and play well vs. the run. The 49ers couldn't get RB Frank Gore going early, in part, because of Ellerbe, who dropped him once for no gain and again for a 1-yard loss. Ellerbe might be the least costly of the group to retain.