Defending Super Bowl champions Baltimore Ravens have a lot to live up to next year, but former centre Matt Birk believes they will go above and beyond those expectations.

The 36-year-old, who retired this offseason following a 15-year career, praised general manager Ozzie Newsome on the signings he has completed so far this summer while talking on NFL Total Access.

“The Ravens may be better next year,” Birk said

“It’s a different team, and it’s built a different way. You’re not gonna replace Ray Lewis or Ed Reed, in certain aspects. You’re not gonna get a franchise middle linebacker right out of the gate.”

Birk was quick to point out how the free agents Chris Canty and Marcus Spears will shore up the defence, and how they will also benefit from the return of cornerback Lardarius Webb from his season-ending ACL injury.

"Webb might not be a household name, but he is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL."

Birk did however admit that the loss of Anquan Boldin, who was traded to the 49ers, is big but that they have the guys in place to still be considered a major threat.

“Anquan Boldin became the go-to guy in the playoffs,” Birk said.

“They didn’t replace him. They don’t have that guy. But you do have two great tight ends in Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson...two backs, Torrey Smith, Jacoby (Jones). I mean, you’ve got weapons. And you’ve got the quarterback happy, and locked up for a long time.”

Birk is certainly confident that the Ravens can build upon their Super Bowl winning season last year, even though they will have to do it without him.


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