Final Thoughts Before Free Agency Begins
At noon today teams are officially permitted to contact and enter negotiations with unrestricted free agents. Before the starting gun echoes out, media outlets offered one final look at the Ravens greatest needs.
Kevin Patra, NFL.com – “Upgrades along the O-line are needed after struggles sideswiped the Ravens’ offensive plans last season. The interior O-line was already a need, and tackle became an issue with Alejandro Villanueva retiring.”
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic – “The Ravens prefer to draft and develop their tackles, but they are probably going to have to get out of their comfort zone this year and spend a little money on an experienced starting-caliber tackle. They then will address the position further in the draft.”
Vasilis Lericos, Baltimore Beatdown: “Based on the results of last season, injury risk of the players under contract and attrition, offensive tackle is clearly the top need and should be prioritized accordingly with a proven, above average veteran addition via trade or signing. “
Kevin Oestreicher, Ravens Wire: “Baltimore’s offensive line struggled in multiple aspects in 2021, so it’s no secret that the team needs to improve their unit up front in the trenches. The health of All-Pro tackle Ronnie Stanley is a key part in returning the unit to dominance, but the need on the offensive line could become even bigger if center Bradley Bozeman departs.”
Dan Graziano, ESPN: “The Baltimore Ravens are expected to be looking hard at offensive linemen, especially if they lose center Bradley Bozeman, who’s expected to be a popular free-agent target.”
As noted in Thursday’s LFW, moves made last week left them “dangerously thin” at the position.
Justin Fried, Ebony Bird: “The Ravens currently have six cornerbacks on their roster with only two of them in line for serious playing time in 2021. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters should return, but behind them the team’s cornerback depth chart is razor-thin .”
Patra: “Injuries stretched the Ravens’ corner crew thin in 2021, underscoring the need to get more youthful on the outside behind Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Adding a playmaking safety in free agency (eg, Justin Reid or Marcus Maye) and drafting a young corner early would solidify the back end.”
Zrebiec: “Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are the only two established cornerbacks on their roster.”
Anthony Threash, PFF: “Injuries made the Baltimore secondary look worse than it should have been, but the unit still has room to improve. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters will man two cornerback spots, and safety Chuck Clark has played decently in his versatile role , but the rest of the pack is skating on thin ice.”
Oestreicher: “The Ravens’ secondary has had their fair share of injury issues over the past few seasons. The team has had to sign players off of the street to play due to how many cornerbacks or safeties are out with ailments, and now they have a few cornerbacks hitting free agency as well as others who could be potential cap cuts.”
Oestreicher: “It’s not only on offense where Baltimore needs to beef up their trenches. The team’s defensive line could undergo massive personnel changes during the 2022 offseason, with Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Justin Ellis all set to hit the open market.”
Michael Renner, PFF: “The Ravens may very well address this through multiple avenues, but they’ve gotten by drafting and developing defensive linemen as well as any team in the NFL.”
Lack of Extension for Lamar Jackson Leaves Ravens Limited
While the Ravens have significant needs, many noted the Ravens’ lack of cap space to make a serious bid toward one or more big-name free agents.
Part of why they don’t have as much cap space is due to the lack of an extension between the Ravens and Lamar Jackson, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
“The lack of a new deal with Jackson limits what Baltimore can do in free agency, which officially begins on Wednesday,” Hensley wrote. “Signing Jackson to a long-term contract can spread out his salary-cap hit and create between $8 million to $12 million in additional cap space that the Ravens can spend immediately.”
The Ravens released cornerback Tavon Young and Villanueva retired last week, opening up more cap space, but Baltimore still doesn’t have a lot of room.