Paul Kruger's breakout season in 2012 with the Baltimore Ravens is expected to land him a lucrative new NFL contract, but it's not likely the contract will be with Baltimore.
ESPN's Ed Werder said Tuesday on SportsCenter that the Super Bowl champion Ravens are unlikely to re-sign the former Utah defensive star, who led Baltimore with 9 sacks this past season.
"The Ravens have pretty much resigned themselves to the likelihood that he's going to play for another team," Werder reported. "And they drafted Courtney Upshaw last year to play that same position."
Since Baltimore beat San Francisco 34-31 in Super Bowl XVLII in early February, numerous reports have said Baltimore may not have interest in signing Kruger, because of financial constraints. Going into the offseason, the team had several players to negotiate contracts with, including quarterback Joe Flacco.
With a week until the NFL free-agency period opens, this latest report strenghtens the likelyhood that Kruger, an unrestricted free agent, will hit the open market searching for a new team.
Yahoo! Sports reporter Jason Cole said Kruger could be in for a big payday that may surpass $10 million per year, coming off his big season that included recording 4 1/2 sacks during the Ravens' postseason run that ended with a championship.
"I didn't believe this couple of weeks ago, but do now: LB/DE Paul Kruger looks like he's going to blow past $9m per, could get over $10m per," Cole tweeted Saturday.
Following the Super Bowl win, Kruger indicated he would like to stay with the Ravens, after spending his first four years in the NFL with the team.
"I'd love to stay in Baltimore," Kruger told ESPN's NFL Live. "It's a great place to play in every aspect. The organization, the facilities, the teammates. It would be hard to leave, for sure."
According to various reports, the Browns and the Colts might have interest in Kruger. Indianapolis has decided not to re-sign veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney and finished last season tied for 23rd in the league with 32 sacks.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the Browns need help at outside linebacker —as the team is expected to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme — and Kruger would fill the bill.
James Dudko of International Business Times lists Kruger as his top 3-4 pass rusher available in free agency, saying the former Ute surpassed teammate Terrell Suggs as the Ravens' top pass rusher.
Dudko writes, "The 6'4", 270-pounder also combines intelligence with his raw power and underrated athleticism. Kruger has a good understanding of zone drops and can be rushed from anywhere across a formation. Kruger is the kind of dynamic linchpin every 3-4 scheme needs in order to succeed."
Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company