Jones, who was cut by the Ravens on Feb. 25, signed a two-year deal with the San Diego Chargers on Friday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Chargers are scheduled to play at M&T Bank Stadium in 2015, which means the Ravens will face one of their Super Bowl heroes this season.
The Ravens released Jones to avoid paying him a $2.5 million base salary. It freed up only $750,000 in cap room.
The Ravens have faced plenty of players from their championship team in Baltimore over the last two seasons. It's a list that's included linebacker Paul Kruger, offensive tackle Michael Oher, tight end Ed Dickson and even safety Ed Reed twice in 2013 (he was with both the Texans and Jets that season).
In other ex-Ravens news, Oher signed a two-year deal with the Carolina Panthers on Friday. He only lasted one season with the Tennessee Titans before getting cut this offseason
Defensive end Chris Canty, who was cut by the Ravens on Feb. 27, is visiting with the New York Jets, according to ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini.
The Ravens cut Jones in February following a difficult season for the former Super Bowl hero. A year earlier, he had re-signed with the team on a four-year, $12 million deal.
Jones, 30, dropped five passes as a receiver and muffed two punts in 2014, and the Ravens decided to avoid paying his $2.5 million salary for the 2015 season by cutting him.
Despite his struggles, Jones was one of two players to rank in the top 10 last season in both kickoff and punt returns. (Cincinnati's Adam Jones was the other.) Jones finished second in the NFL in kickoff returns (30.6-yard average) and returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown at Pittsburgh.
Jones made little impact as a receiver last season, catching his fewest passes (nine) since 2008. He dropped too many passes and quickly lost his job as the No. 3 receiver.
It was only two years ago when Jones helped the Ravens to a Super Bowl title. He caught a 56-yard touchdown pass and scored on an 108-yard kickoff return in the Ravens' 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Earlier in that title run, he caught a 70-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left against the Denver Broncos that helped force overtime in a 38-35 divisional-round victory that sent the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game.
ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this report.
No. 3: Justin Forsett
The good: Forsett established himself as a starter for the first time in his seven-year career, finishing No. 5 in the NFL in rushing. With great vision and burst, he led the NFL in yards-per-carry average (5.39). He was the NFL's only running back to run for at least 1,200 yards and average more than five yards per carry last season. Forsett's big-play ability really took the Ravens' offense to another level. He had at least one run of 20 yards in 11 games, and his 17 runs of 20 yards or longer in 2014 topped the league. Forsett was named Most Valuable Player by the local media, and he's just as respected in the locker room.
The bad: He's a small back at 5-foot-7, 197 pounds, and he showed signs of wearing down in the second half of the season. In his first 12 games, Forsett averaged 84 yards per game and scored seven touchdowns. In his final games of the regular season, he averaged 64 yards rushing and scored one touchdown. Forsett isn't going to generate a lot of yards on his own. He ranked 17th in broken tackles and 35th in average yards after first contact.
The bottom line: Forsett is a proven commodity in the Ravens' stretch zone-blocking scheme, and he's perfect for that stop-gap/mentor role that the Ravens need if they draft a running back in the early rounds this year. Even though this is a crowded free-agent market at running back, most of the options are either expensive (DeMarco Murray) or worn down (Chris Johnson and DeAngelo Williams). The only intriguing alternative is Pierre Thomas. I suspect the Ravens will make Forsett a priority since they are resigned to losing pass-rusher Pernell McPhee and wide receiver Torrey Smith. There was a report that the Falcons would show interest in Forsett in free agency.
A restricted free agent, who has three accrued seasons in the NFL, can receive one of three tenders: first round ($3.347 million), second round ($2.356 million) or the low tender ($1.542 million).
If a team signs a restricted free agent to an offer sheet, the Ravens have the right to match the deal or receive the designated draft pick from that team as compensation. The low tender awards a draft pick corresponding to the round in which the player was originally drafted. If the player originally went undrafted, the team receives no compensation if that low-tender RFA signs elsewhere and the team decides not to match it.
Here are my predictions for the Ravens' three RFAs ...
SS Will Hill: Low tender ($1.542 million). Some might argue the Ravens need put a second-round tender on Hill to stop another team from signing away the team's starting safety. Like Tucker, Hill went undrafted and there is no compensation at the low tender. I'm guessing it's a risk worth taking because of the Ravens' cap situation and Hill's track record. The Ravens have to create cap room before March 10, and they can't afford the additional $814,000 for a second-round tender. In addition, Hill has been suspended twice, and that will likely scare a team away from signing him to an offer sheet. Even at the low tender, Hill would get nearly a $1 million boost in salary from last season.
DB Anthony Levine: No tender. The Ravens really like Levine as a core special teams player and versatile defensive back. But giving him $1.542 million for one season is a luxury the Ravens can't afford with their current cap situation. Levine falls in the same category as linebacker Albert McClellan, a standout special teams player who was scheduled to be a restricted free agent last offseason. Instead of giving McClellan a $1.3 million tender in 2014, the Ravens signed him to a two-year, $2.2 million deal that included a $400,000 signing bonus. McClellan's cap hits in two seasons ($1 million last year and $1.2 million this year) were lower than his one-year RFA tender. It could play out the same way with Levine.
The Baltimore Ravens are once again linked with Washington cornerback Marcus Peters.
A week after Todd McShay had the Ravens taking Peters in his third mock draft, Mel Kiper Jr. predicted the same in his latest one . As you know, it's not very often that ESPN's draft experts agree.
This certainly makes a lot of sense. Peters is considered the most gifted corner in this year's draft, and the Ravens have a need at that position. Kiper has Peters ranked No. 19 on his last Big Board, and he has Peters as the second-best cornerback prospect in the draft (behind Michigan State's Trae Waynes).
The only reason Peters would slide to the Ravens at No. 26 is character concerns. He was kicked off the Washington football team last year, and he has a reputation for being a hothead. Peters' average performance at the combine also didn't help his cause.
The Ravens have had mixed results with red-flagged players recently. There were disastrous results with linebacker Sergio Kindle in 2010, but it worked out extremely well with cornerback Jimmy Smith.
This would only be a decision for the Ravens if Peters lasts past the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 20) and Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 22). Kiper has the Eagles selecting Louisiana State cornerback Jalen Collins, and he has the Steelers taking Alabama safety Landon Collins.
Peters represents the Ravens' best chance of landing an impact cornerback in this draft. He would immediately upgrade the Ravens' No. 3 cornerback spot (currently held by Asa Jackson), and he would likely be ready to take over as a starter in 2016, when the Ravens can gain $6 million by releasing Lardarius Webb.
Ravens' picks in Mel Kiper's mocks
1.0: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
2.0: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
3.0: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington
No. 4: Owen Daniels
Position: Tight end
The bad: Daniels didn't make the expected big impact on third downs. He only caught half of the third-down passes thrown his way, and his eight third-down receptions ranked 23rd among NFL tight ends. Daniels is also not going to stretch the field. He managed five catches over 20 yards, and he ranked 24th among tight ends in average yards after contact.
The bottom line: The Ravens will want to keep Daniels because of their lack of depth at tight end and the fact that he'll be moderately-priced free agent, which is important for a team that doesn't have much salary-cap room. The need to re-sign Daniels increased even more after general manager Ozzie Newsome said the team won't know about Pitta's status for 2015 until this summer at the earliest. Daniels would provide leadership and stability to a team that has only one healthy and experienced tight end under contract (Crockett Gillmore). While many believe Daniels will follow Gary Kubiak to Denver, which could happen, his comfort level in Baltimore shouldn't go overlooked. Daniels quickly built a good chemistry with Joe Flacco, and he received one day off a week during the regular season, which helped keep his legs fresh. His decision will likely come down to the Ravens and Broncos.
The Ravens don't have the salary-cap room to be big spenders in free agency, and it's simply not the way this franchise has done business, especially over the past five years. This is a team that prefers to focus on signing its own free agents instead of ones from other teams because it's a sounder investment to give millions of guaranteed money to players you've known for four years. This is also a team that targets salary-cap casualties over unrestricted free agents (players who have finished out their contracts) because players who've been cut don't reduce the number of compensatory picks for the next year's draft.
When the Ravens bring in a free agent, it's typically someone who has been pushed into free agency because of a high cap number. The Ravens have found good value in signing cap casualties such as wide receiver Steve Smith, wide receiver-returner Jacoby Jones, tight end Owen Daniels, running back Justin Forsett and fullback Vonta Leach.
The four unrestricted free agents signed by the Ravens the past five offseasons are: running back Ricky Williams, cornerback Corey Graham, safety Sean Considine and safety Darian Stewart. Only Graham received more than $1 million in guaranteed money.
The fact that the Ravens have allowed a good number of their unrestricted free agents to sign elsewhere (such as Michael Oher, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Arthur Jones and Cary Williams) and they don't sign many UFAs has resulted in the most compensatory picks in the NFL. Since the league started awarding compensatory picks in 1994, the Ravens have received 41, which is eight more than any other team in the league. The Ravens have added the maximum number of comp picks in 2013 and 2014, and they're expected to receive three for the 2015 draft.
Compensatory picks have been just as big of a factor in the Ravens replenishing the talent that they've lost as free agency has been. The Ravens have had seven comp picks turn into starters or significant contributors: running back Chester Taylor, offensive tackles Tony Pashos and Rick Wagner, fullbacks Ovie Mughelli, Le'Ron McClain and Kyle Juszczyk and linebacker Pernell McPhee. When McPhee -- who is considered a top-15 free agent this offseason -- signs elsewhere, the Ravens could gain a third- or fourth-round compensatory pick in 2016.
The Ravens are so fixated on collecting the maximum number of comp picks that they will wait on signing unrestricted free agents until after June 1, when they don't count against the comp pick formula. They did this when they added quarterback Marc Bulger, kicker Shayne Graham and linebacker Daryl Smith.
With the Ravens expected to among the teams with the least amount of cap room, they are not expected to be very active in free agency. But being methodical and selective has become the Ravens' way. The Ravens signed only two players from other teams in March in 2012 and 2014, two seasons that resulted in playoff berths.
This has been a successful approach, although not always a popular one.
"We take some stress -- a lot of stress -- during free agency," general manager Ozzie Newsome said last year. "There are a lot of good players that sign with other teams, and we lose a lot of good players, but we maintain the patience. And we'll try to sort through other areas to get players."
Newsome's way of assembling talent has helped the Ravens to reach the postseason in six of the past seven seasons. Only the New England Patriots have won more games than the Ravens since 2008.
The Ravens have become a classic example of how teams that don't generate many headlines in March are often the ones who are playing in January.
Here is a look at the players from other teams signed by the Ravens in the first wave of free agency since 2010 (* -- unrestricted):
2010: WR Donte Stallworth, DE Cory Redding
2011: SS Bernard Pollard, RB Ricky Williams*, FB Vonta Leach
2012: WR-KR Jacoby Jones, CB Corey Graham*, S Sean Considine*
2013: DE Chris Canty, LB Elvis Dumervil, SS Michael Huff, DL Marcus Spears
2014: TE Owen Daniels, RB Justin Forsett, WR Steve Smith, SS Darian Stewart*
No. 5: Darian Stewart
The good: The Ravens signed Stewart as a safety net in case their young players didn't develop fast enough, and that's exactly what he became. Stewart started a career-high 14 games because recent draft picks Matt Elam and Terrence Brooks both struggled. He played better than other safeties in last year's free-agent class Louis Delmas and Chris Clemons.
The bad: He didn't provide the same stability as James Ihedigbo, the starter the previous season. Stewart's 720 snaps were significantly lower than Ihedigo's team-leading 1,027 snaps in 2013. He didn't show great speed or instincts, which hurt the Ravens in deep coverage.
The bottom line: Stewart was simply adequate. He was certainly worth the value because the Ravens got a starter with role-player money (one year, $1.3 million). The Ravens brought him in because of his ties with then-secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo. But there's a chance that Stewart comes back even though Spagnuolo is now the defensive coordinator for the Giants. Some in the Ravens' organization thought Stewart was underrated. It wouldn't be surprising if the stayed as a fall-back option again or signed elsewhere.
LB Pernell McPhee (Ranked No. 19 overall): Indianapolis Colts. Other teams mentioned: Tennessee and Detroit. The Colts are the popular choice here because of Chuck Pagano's history with the Ravens. My pick is the Oakland Raiders, who have $56 million in cap space and tied for the second-fewest sacks in the NFL last season. New Raiders coach Jack Del Rio will want to upgrade his defense, and what better way than to pair McPhee with Khalil Mack.
WR Torrey Smith (No. 30): No consensus. Teams mentioned: Cleveland, Carolina, New England, Miami, New York Jets and Ravens. My pick is the Jets. New York will only have one starting-caliber receiver after it parts ways with Percy Harvin, and Eric Decker is a possession receiver. Smith can complement Decker and stretch the field for a Jets passing attack that managed just 15 completions on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air last season (tied for third worst in the NFL). I wouldn't rule out the Jaguars, who have a lot of money to spend.
RB Justin Forsett (No. 42): Ravens. Other team mentioned: Dallas. The prevailing feeling is that the Ravens will make Forsett a priority. The Ravens know he fits in their offense, and they're probably not impressed with the other options in Forsett's price range. Even though the Ravens are likely picking a running back early in the draft, Forsett will be the team's top running back until the rookie gets up to speed (look at how the Bengals brought along Jeremy Hill) and he can share snaps after that. The Ravens also value Forsett as a mentor.
TE Owen Daniels (No. 71): Ravens. Other teams mentioned: Denver, Miami and New York Giants. While many quickly earmarked Daniels to reunite with Gary Kubiak in Denver, my bet is Daniels remains with the Ravens. With Dennis Pitta's uncertain status, the only healthy and experienced tight end on the Ravens roster is Crockett Gillmore. Daniels quickly built a rapport with Joe Flacco, and he stayed fresh throughout because coach John Harbaugh gave him one day off a week.
A few of the Pro Football Focus analysts also predicted the Ravens would sign free agents from other teams, but general manager Ozzie Newsome prefers to sign salary-cap casualties over unrestricted free agents because they don't count against the team's compensatory picks. Here are the UFAs linked to the Ravens:
CB Tramon Williams (No. 25): Allowing the winning touchdown pass in the NFC Championship Game overshadowed Williams' productive season. He was a tough and durable member of the NFL's 10th-ranked pass defense last season. Williams also has 27 interceptions over the past seven seasons. The Ravens probably don't have the cap space for Williams. Even if they did, I'm not sure they could pry him out of Green Bay.
WR Michael Crabtree (No. 62): He never lived up to expectations with the 49ers, but he's a talented receiver who can flourish in the right system. It just won't be in Baltimore. Crabtree is another pipe dream for the Ravens. They don't have the cap space to splurge on a receiver like Crabtree, Randall Cobb or Jeremy Maclin.
CB Walter Thurmond (No. 72): He's a corner who'll have a reduced price after a season-ending torn pectoral muscle limited him to two games last season. Thurmond is considered a top-level nickelback, which makes him an intriguing option. But he would be a risk considering the Ravens' starting cornerbacks, Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb, both have extensive injury histories.
Two days after Johnson said he would like to retire a a Raven, the team will invite the hard-nosed linebacker to sign a one-day contract so he can officially call it quits in Baltimore, according to the team's website.
"If I had the opportunity to retire as a Raven, I would definitely take advantage of that," Johnson told WBAL Radio on Monday night.
Johnson earned this kind of treatment from the Ravens. His career was defined by sacrificing his body with little fanfare in return.
On a defense headlined by the likes of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Johnson embraced the unselfish role of setting the edge. It didn't result in many highlights, but coaches and teammates knew how invaluable he was to their defense.
Johnson did this without complaining or missing a game. His streak of 130 straight games played is the longest streak by a Ravens offensive or defensive player. He never sat out a game due to injury in his nine years with the Ravens.
During Johnson's seven years as a starter for the Ravens (2005-11), he was the unheralded rock of a defense that ranked in the top 10 every season.
In recent years, the Ravens allowed kicker Matt Stover and wide receiver Derrick Mason to return after playing elsewhere so they could retire with the Ravens. No date was given on when Johnson plans on signing his ceremonial contract.
Johnson makes sense for the Ravens because of their need at wide receiver if Torrey Smith can't be re-signed and their successful history with aging receivers, from Derrick Mason to Anquan Boldin to Steve Smith Sr. He would represent the first step in the Ravens' offseason makeover of the wide receiver position.
The Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are potential suitors for Johnson, and like the Ravens, they can all offer him a shot at winning a Super Bowl. The Colts and Seahawks, both of whom currently have over $25 million in salary-cap space, can offer Johnson more money than the Ravens. And the Colts can offer him two opportunities a year at getting payback with the Texans because both teams are in the AFC South.
This is why the Ravens should be considered candidates to get Johnson, although certainly not the favorites. The Ravens would have to go after Johnson with the same aggressiveness they showed last offseason with Steve Smith. But the Ravens don't have the cap room to outbid teams.
Johnson is the type of good-sized receiver (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) that the Ravens and new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman need. Johnson would seem to be an ideal fit based on how Trestman used two big playmaking targets (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery) in Chicago.
And unlike a receiver like Marshall (who could also become available), Johnson brings strong hands, toughness, leadership and consistency. Among players with 100 games played, Johnson's average of six catches per game is the highest in NFL history.
Johnson has shown signs of slowing down. His yards per catch has declined each of the past three seasons, and his 11 yards per catch last season was his lowest since 2005. He averaged 62.4 receiving yards per game last season, his least since 2005 and 25 yards less than his 2013 average.
But the Ravens are probably looking at Johnson to be their No. 1 receiver for at least 2015. Owner Steve Bisciotti said the Ravens won't extend themselves financially to keep Torrey Smith, and coach John Harbaugh hinted at reducing Steve Smith's role in 2015 to help keep him from wearing down during the season.
If the Ravens would get Johnson, it would solve their problems only in the short term. The Ravens' top two receivers would be 34 and 36 years old when the season started, increasing the need to draft a receiver. Arizona State's Jaelen Strong and Ohio State's Devin Smith are first-round prospects who could fill Torrey Smith's role as the deep threat and develop into a starter by 2016.
The idea of lining up Johnson, Steve Smith and a playmaking rookie at wide receiver has to be enticing for Flacco and the Ravens. They just have to convince Johnson that his best fit is with the Ravens.
The best-case scenario for the Ravens is finding a middle ground with Webb, whose $12 million salary-cap number ranks only behind defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and quarterback Joe Flacco on the team. The Ravens need the cap room because they are a projected $4.9 million over the cap after tendering their restricted and exclusive rights free agents.
In addition gaining the cap room, the Ravens want to avoid paying Webb an $8 million base salary. That ranks sixth among cornerbacks, a steep price for a middle-of-the-road cornerback. He has struggled with injuries, which have forced him to miss 13 games over the last three seasons. Injuries and inconsistent play led to a disappointing 2014 season, when he was ranked No. 78 by Pro Football Focus.
Webb knows he wouldn't make that type of money if the Ravens released him, but he also knows there's not much of a chance that the Ravens will cut him. The Ravens would only gain $2 million in cap room and carry $10 million in dead money if they parted ways with Webb. Without a proven replacement on the roster, the Ravens would also have to sign a cheaper alternative in free agency to fill Webb's spot.
One compromise is reducing Webb's salary by $2 million or $3 million to give the Ravens immediate cap relief and adding incentives that would allow him to earn it all back in 2015.
Another option is doing a simple restructuring of Webb's contract, which is what the Ravens did last season to open up $3 million in cap room. The Ravens can convert a portion of his base salary into a bonus to spread the cap hit over the remaining three years of his deal. General manager Ozzie Newsome has said that he prefers to avoid restructuring deals because it's only pushing the cap hit into future seasons.
Even if Webb agrees to a pay cut, his contract will be an issue next offseason. The Ravens can gain $6 million of cap room if they release Webb in 2016.
Webb, who turns 30 during the season, is under contract through the 2017 season. He signed a six-year, $50 million deal in April 2012 that included $15 million guaranteed.
Position: Defensive lineman
The good: He's young (turns 25 this month) and continued to impress the Ravens throughout the season. Signed in Week 4 after being waived by the Chargers, Guy inched up the team's depth chart and even started a game when Chris Canty was injured. Guy immediately fit into the team's rotation as a hard-nosed run defender.
The bad: Guy has never played for a team for two full seasons, bouncing around four teams in four NFL seasons (Green Bay, Indianapolis, San Diego and Ravens). He makes little impact in the pass rush. Guy has one career sack and recorded five quarterback hurries in 11 games with the Ravens.
The bottom line: The Ravens should re-sign Guy because he's the type of steady role player that makes their defensive line so strong. There really wasn't much of a dropoff from Canty to Guy. Pro Football Focus ranked Guy No. 61 among defensive linemen, which was two spots behind starter Canty. In Guy's only start, he made six tackles, which were more than what Canty had in any of his 11 starts.
Williams, 30, who was released by the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday, was a starter for the Ravens' 2012 Super Bowl team and tied for the team lead with four interceptions. Despite his down season last year, he would upgrade the Ravens at cornerback, one of the biggest weaknesses on the team in 2014.
But it's unknown whether the Ravens' hard stance on domestic violence applies to Williams. He served a two-game suspension in 2010 as a member of the Ravens for an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred the previous year while he was with the Tennessee Titans. Even though Williams was not arrested, the NFL suspended him for a violation of the personal conduct policy.
So, do the Ravens not think about bringing back Williams because of this alleged incident? Or is Williams an exception because the Ravens have a history with him?
During his four seasons with the Ravens (2009-12), he had no off-the-field issues. Williams was so well-liked by the organization that the Ravens offered him a three-year, $15 million contract extension before the 2012 season, but he turned it down.
Williams signed a three-year, $17 million contract with the Eagles after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, and he started every game for Philadelphia the past two seasons. He struggled at times last season and ranked No. 49 among cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus after allowing five touchdown passes.
Re-signing Williams makes a lot of sense for the Ravens. They're familiar with his ability and his fiery attitude, and Williams would probably come at a modest price, which is key for a team with not much cap room. He would press Ladarius Webb for a starting job, and at the very least be a significant step up from Asa Jackson at nickelback.
Before that reunion can happen, the Ravens have to decide where Williams falls under the team's new stance on domestic violence.