Entering the 2017 offseason, the Baltimore Ravens had a lot of work to do to make the team better for this upcoming season. General manager Ozzie Newsome went to work by surprisingly filling out a lot of the needs at safety (Tony Jefferson), cornerback (Brandon Carr), running back (Danny Woodhead), and defensive tackle (Brandon Williams). He even wound up snagging Jeremy Maclin away after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs last month. A rare and very fortunate find for the Ravens and the offense this late in the game.
On draft day, Ozzie continued to add to the secondary by selecting Marlon Humphrey and beefed up the pass rush with the additions of Chris Wormley, Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams. Newsome built the pass-rush for life after Terrell Suggs, with the hopes of Matthew Judon also progressing in his sophomore season. Nevertheless, Baltimore will still go into camp with questions that desperately have to be answered for the team to accomplish their goals in 2017:
Rick Wagner, the starting right tackle for the last three seasons, fled in free agency. Wagner departed the Ravens for the Detroit Lions on a 5-year deal worth up to $47.5 million, and the team only added two offensive lineman this whole offseason. Both via the draft in Nico Siragusa and Jermaine Eluemunor. While Siragusa played guard in college, Eluemunor started at both right tackle and guard last season at Texas A&M. For now, Elumenor is a project 5th round pick with potential. On the free agent market, not much is out there. Orlando Franklin remains available after being released by the San Diego Chargers. The likely solution seems to be left guard Alex Lewis moving to the right tackle position as guys like Siragusa, John Urschel, and Ryan Jensen battle for the left guard spot. The scenario that nobody wants is of course James Hurst starting, who is one of the worst offensive lineman in the NFL.
While right tackle at least has some options thanks to the draft and the versatility of Alex Lewis, center has not been addressed at all. The Ravens traded their starting center of the last three years, Jeremy Zuttah, to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2017 sixth round pick. Since the trade, Baltimore has done nothing but bring in free agent Nick Mangold for a visit to check up on his progress from an ankle injury that plagued him in 2016. Mangold is still available, but reports are he is looking for top-10 center money, and at 33, that doesn't seem likely to happen. Especially with the Ravens, who currently have less than $4 million in cap space. For now, it looks like it's John Urschel's job to lose.
After the NFL Draft, this tight end group, while still a question mark, had a lot of talent. Players like Dennis Pitta, Darren Waller, Ben Watson, and Nick Boyle were part of the reason why it was okay for them to pass on O.J. Howard with their first round choice. They had depth. Now that has changed with Pitta suffering another hip dislocation during OTA's, which forced his release by the team. Shortly after, the Ravens lost Waller for the entire season after yet another suspension. Not to mention the fact that Boyle is one strike away from being suspended for the year as well. Maxx Williams just came back to the practice field after knee surgery. Crockett Gillmore has also been recovering from numerous injuries, and Watson is coming off a torn Achilles. Someone from this group has to step up, hopefully Gillmore who is entering a make-or-break kind of season. If no one does during training camp, Ozzie Newsome will have no choice but to make a move, and Gary Barnidge remains available.
One of the more underrated aspects about the Ravens has been their ability on special teams, especially on kickoff and punt return. Returners like Jermaine Lewis and Jacoby Jones have helped catapult the Ravens to two Super Bowl championships and the team has been looking for one over the last couple of seasons after Jones fell off a cliff in 2014. The team even tried Devin Hester last season, but that experiment was a total disaster. Talent wise, Campanaro would be the obvious choice, but he is never healthy and is once again injured as he enters training camp on the PUP list. The team recently signed WR/KR Griff Whalen, and 2016 6th round pick Keenan Reynolds looks to find his way on the field in 2017. Reynolds might be the guy to watch as he performed well in OTA's. Other in-house options include Chris Moore, who the Ravens want to see more of on offense. If Campanaro can't get on the field, not only will someone like Whalen, Reynolds, or an impending acquisition win the job, his days as a Raven will be over.