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Ravens Mail: Any interest in Chris Johnson?

It's time to click open Part Two of this weekend's Baltimore Ravens mailbag ...

@jamisonhensley: The reason why you'll hear Chris Johnson's name brought up with the Ravens is the team had interest in him last offseason. The Ravens were looking to upgrade at running back because of Ray Rice's declining play and much-publcized off-the-field incident. Johnson chose to go to the Jets, where he wouldn't have as much competition for the ball. A year removed, the Ravens' level of interest should have waned. Johnson failed to gain 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career, which only increases concern about how much a soon-to-be 30-year-old back has left. Last month, he was arrested and charged with the open carrying of a firearm, a second-degree misdemeanor. I would be surprised if the Ravens would want to sign a declining running back with a legal issue. Didn't they already go through that? That being said, the Ravens will want to add a veteran running back if they can't re-sign Justin Forsett. When looking at the running backs who could be salary-cap casualties -- which are typically the Ravens' targets -- this unimpressive list includes DeAngelo Williams, Reggie Bush and Shonn Greene. The unrestricted free-agent class of running backs is more appealing with the likes of Frank Gore, C.J. Spiller, Mark Ingram and Shane Vereen. Of course, those runners will cost more to sign and they'll count against the Ravens' compensatory picks.

@jamisonhensley: That will be the No. 1 priority for the Ravens next offseason, when Joe Flacco's salary-cap number jumps to $28.55 million. This year, his cap number of $14.55 million is a relative bargain, ranking 15th among quarterbacks. His cap number in 2015 is lower than Matt Ryan ($19.5 million), Matthew Stafford ($17.7 million), Sam Bradford ($16.5 million), Jay Cutler ($16.5 million), Alex Smith ($15.6 million) and Cam Newton ($14.6 million). While it was trumpeted that Flacco signed a six-year, $120.6 million after leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl title, everyone knew it was essentially a three-year, $62 million deal because of that huge cap number in 2016. Flacco's $28.55 million cap number in 2016 is the highest in the NFL for that season. It forces the Ravens and Flacco to rework the deal or part ways.

@jamisonhensley: I don't, although I can understand why you're asking. The Ravens have chosen a defensive player with their top pick for the past five drafts. The last time the Ravens chose an offensive player with their first selection was offensive tackle Michael Oher in 2009. But it's just been the way the first round has unfolded. In 2010, the Ravens would've been ecstatic if wide receivers Demaryius Thomas or Dez Bryant had fallen to the No. 25 pick and that nearly happened. In 2011, the Ravens can't complain about taking cornerback Jimmy Smith at No. 27 when you look at the four offensive players taken after that pick (running back Mark Ingram, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, offensive tackle Derek Sherrod and quarterback Andy Dalton). And last year, it's hard to argue with the Ravens using the No. 17 overall pick on linebacker C.J. Mosley, who was one of the best rookies in the NFL in 2014 and has the potential to be the cornerstone of the defense.

@jamisonhensley: That really depends on the Ravens improving the weapons around Flacco. His top three targets in 2014 were an aging Steve Smith, an underachieving Torrey Smith and a fill-in in Owen Daniels, who was replacing an injured Dennis Pitta. If the Ravens can upgrade at wide receiver or tight end, it would benefit Flacco no matter who is calling the plays. I'm not trying to downplay the significance of the offensive coordinator. Gary Kubiak did wonders with his system and his communication with Flacco. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has praised new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman for getting in touch with Flacco and establishing a relationship. But the other factor is the talent around Flacco. It would be nice if he had the luxury of having a pass-catcher like Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green or Antonio Brown. So, yes, there is definitely potential for Flacco to get better.

@jamisonhensley: It's possible but not probable. I can see a scenario where wide receiver Torrey Smith and running back Justin Forsett both come back, although it wouldn't surprise me to see both leave. It's a guessing game at this point because no one, including the Ravens, knows the level of interest Smith and Forsett will receive in free agency, which begins March 10. I believe the Ravens will make fair offers to both of them, but I know the Ravens aren't going to get in a bidding war for either one. If Smith and Forsett get better deals elsewhere, the Ravens will let them walk.