Final thoughts before the start of free agency
At noon today, teams are officially cleared to contact and enter into negotiations with unrestricted free agents. Before the tee shot sounded, the media offered one final look at the Ravens’ greatest needs.
Kevin Patra, NFL.com – “Improvements along the O line are needed after struggles swept through the Ravens’ offensive plans last season. The inside O line was already a need, and tackling became an issue with the retirement of Alejandro Villanueva.”
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic – “The Ravens prefer to draft and develop their tackles, but they’re likely going to have to step out of their comfort zone this year and spend a bit of money on an experienced starting-caliber tackle. They’ll address the position next later in the project.”
Vasilis Lericos, Baltimore Beatdown: “Based on last season’s results, contract player injury risk and attrition, offensive tackle is clearly the most important need and should be prioritized accordingly with an addition of proven, above-average veteran via trade or signing.”
Kevin Oestreicher, Ravens Wire: “Baltimore’s offensive line has struggled multiple times in 2021, so it’s no secret that the team needs to improve their unit up front in the trenches. All tackle health -Pro Ronnie Stanley is a key part of returning the unit to dominance, but the need on the offensive line could become even greater if center Bradley Bozeman leaves.”
Dan Graziano, ESPN: “The Baltimore Ravens are expected to watch offensive linemen carefully, especially if they lose center Bradley Bozeman, who should be a popular target for free agents.
As reported in Thursday’s LFW, moves made over the past week have left them “dangerously thin” in position.
Justin Fried, Ebony Bird: “The Ravens currently have six cornerbacks on their roster with only two of them online for serious playing time in 2021. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters should return, but behind them is the depth chart of the team’s cornerbacks is very thin.”
Patra: “Injuries have stretched the Ravens corner team in 2021, underscoring the need to get younger on the outside behind Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Adding free agency play safety (e.g. Justin Reid or Marcus Maye) and drafting a young corner early would solidify the back.”
Zrebiec: “Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are the only two established cornerbacks on their roster.”
Anthony Threash, PFF: “Injuries have made Baltimore’s secondary worse than it should have been, but the unit still has room to improve. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters will fill two cornerback spots , and safety Chuck Clark played decently in his all-around role, but the rest of the field is skating on thin ice.”
Oestreicher: “The Ravens’ secondary has had its fair share of injury issues over the past few seasons. The team has had to sign players off the street to play due to the number of cornerbacks or safeties suffering from ailments , and now they have some cornerbacks hitting free agency as well as others that could be potential cap cuts.”
Oestreicher: “It’s not just on offense that Baltimore needs to strengthen its trenches. The team’s defensive line could see huge personnel changes in the 2022 offseason, with Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Justin Ellis all set to hit the free market.”
Michael Renner, PFF: “The Ravens can solve this problem very well in several ways, but they have succeeded in recruiting 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 have noted the Ravens’ lack of cap space to make a serious offer to one or more big-name free agents.
Part of the reason they don’t have as much cap space is due to the lack of 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 Wednesday,” Hensley wrote. “Signing Jackson to a long-term contract can stretch his salary cap and create between $8 million dollars to $12 million in extra cap space 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 much room.