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Grading the Ravens personnel decisions in 2017

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The Baltimore Ravens front office was uncharacteristically aggressive during the 2017 offseason. General manager Ozzie Newsome acquired several sought after free agents and devoted the vast majority of his draft assets towards improving the pass defense.

After the conclusion of the 2017 season, it is clear the offseason was a mixed bag. Some moves proved wise, while others did not work out as well as envisioned. Analysis and grades for each notable personnel decision the Ravens made in 2017:

Free Agents Acquired

Tony Jefferson signed a 4-year, $34 million contract. He blew coverages and missed tackles too frequently during his first season in Baltimore. It was a questionable decision to make a player with just one seasons a full-time starter the ninth highest paid at his position. Strategically, it also proved unwise to add this expensive veteran safety to the roster because neither Jefferson nor Eric Weddle have the speed to play a centerfielder role. Grade: C

Brandon Carr inked a 4-year, $23.5 million contract. He had an up and down year, but was a positive addition overall. His presence proved necessary once Jimmy Smith fell to injury. Since cornerback is a premium position, a $6 million average annual value is a relative bargain. Furthermore, the Ravens structured Carr’s contract in a way that allows them to release him, if they so chose, without much dead money on their balance sheet. Grade: B

Jeremy Maclin signed a 2-year, $11 million contract. Concerns over Maclin’s durability were justified, as he missed four games and displayed an alarming lack of toughness. Moreover, he never developed chemistry with Joe Flacco. He is likely to be released this offseason, costing $2.5 million in dead cap in exchange for $5 million in cap savings. Grade: D

Austin Howard inked a 3-year, $15 million contract. The Ravens were fortunate to acquire a competent veteran starter in August. Howard had some good games mixed in with some bad. Still, a $5 million average annual salary is quite reasonable considering the scarcity of quality offensive tackles across the league. He should provide value even in a backup role next season. If not, the team can create $3 million in cap space by releasing Howard. Grade: B

Danny Woodhead signed with the Ravens for 3-years, $8.8 million. Another aging skill player with an injury history that followed him to Baltimore. Danny played in just eight games and managed less than 50 total touches all season. His cap hit of $3.3 million next season is too expensive for a third stringer, and will result in another $1.5 million of dead money upon his release. Grade: D

Alex Collins was signed to the practice squad and eventually became arguably the Ravens best offensive player. Collins will be under team control at a reasonable price for the next two seasons. He is an exciting building block for the roster. Grade: A

Patrick Ricard continued the tradition of Ravens undrafted rookie free agents. He successfully made the transition from defensive tackle to fullback. Ricard has two more seasons remaining on his contract at near the minimum salary. Grade: A

Free Agents Retained

Brandon Williams re-signed with Baltimore for $52.5 million over 5 years. He was as stout as ever against the run. Yet Williams missed significant time with injury and failed to record a single sack for the first time in his career. Top 15 money among all interior lineman for a one dimensional tackle does not represent great value. Grade: C

Lardarius Webb was released in March but then re-signed in April for 3-years at $6.3 million. Webb made a handful of splash plays in 2017, however he no longer possesses the agility or speed necessary to sustain adequate coverage. Webb was relegated to a backup role once Maurice Canady returned to the field. Lardarius will probably be released this offseason, fortunately with less than a million in resulting dead cap. Grade: C

Anthony Levine re-signed for $4.2 million over 3 years. In addition to his fine work as a special teams ace, Anthony emerged as an impact performer on the Ravens dime package. He should continue to serve as a valuable contributor for the duration of his contract. Grade: A

Departed Veterans

Rick Wagner signed a 5-year $47.5 million contract with the Lions. He turned in a solid season for Detroit, but also battled injury. The Ravens were not in position to pay fair market value for a non bluechip performer. Furthermore, Baltimore is expected to receive a third round compensatory draft pick because of Wagner’s departure. Grade: B

Timmy Jernigan was traded to Philadelphia along with the 99th pick in the 2017 draft in exchange for the 74th pick. He recently signed a 4-year, $48 million contract extension with the Eagles. The Ravens had decided they were not going to re-sign Jernigan, but based on his extension they would have received a third round compensatory selection for him in the 2019 draft. Instead, they selected Chris Wormley with their earlier third round pick. Wormley played in seven games with very minimal impact. The Ravens could have used Jernigan’s interior pass rush in 2017. Grade: F

Kyle Juszczyk fled to the 49ers on a 4-year, $21 million deal. Baltimore did not have the cap space to make Kyle the highest paid fullback in the NFL. His departure also offset Tony Jefferson’s acquisition, preserving a valuable compensatory pick. Grade: A

Lawrence Guy went to New England for $13.4 million over 4 years. He was an important cog on the Patriots front. Nevertheless, Willie Henry preformed well as his replacement, and his departure was beneficial to the Ravens compensatory pick equation. Grade: B

Vlad Ducasse signed with Buffalo on a 3-year $3.3 million contract. He started a dozen games at guard for the playoff bound Bills. Considering his relatively affordable contract, the Ravens would have benefitted from his presence as a depth blocker at least. Grade: D

Kamar Aiken went to Indianapolis for 1-year, $2.6 million. He produced only 15 catches for the Colts, yet may have be able to do more with a greater opportunity in Baltimore. Grade: C

Shareece Wright singed with Buffalo for 1-year, $1 million. He made some plays for the Bills, but this was a case of addition by subtraction for the Ravens. Even with the $2.7 million dead money hit, Baltimore was wise to release him from a bad contract. Grade: A

Elvis Dumervil was released, costing the Ravens $2.4 million in dead cap space. He went to San Francisco for $8 million over two years. Elvis managed 6.5 sacks for the 49ers. Still, cutting Dumervil created some cap flexibility and allowed Matthew Judon to thrive with an increased role. Grade: B

Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the 49ers along with the 198th draft pick in exchange for the 186th pick. The Ravens used the pick on safety Chuck Clark, who contributed as a rookie. Zuttah did not make San Francisco’s roster. The Ravens did well to get anything in return for him and his departure cleared the way for Ryan Jensen’s breakout season. Grade: A

Draft selections

Marlon Humphrey was selected with the 16th overall pick. After years of struggling to field adequate depth at cornerback, Humphrey brought stability and turned in an outstanding rookie campaign. The Ravens future is bright at this premium position. Grade: A

Tyus Bowser was chosen with the 47th overall selection. He flashed playmaking ability on multiple occasions, but seemed to hit the rookie wall around midseason. Bowser has promise, but the Ravens could have found a more impactful player in the second round. Grade: C

Chris Wormley was picked at number 74 overall. He was not the plug and play prospect hoped for, and recorded only five tackles on the season. Considering the Ravens crowded defensive line depth chart and their success unearthing undrafted gems at his position, the team would have been smart to allocate this pick on another needy position. Grade: D

Tim Williams was selected with the 78th overall pick. He suited up for eight games, yet failed to record a sack. He was always considered a project and retains plenty of untapped potential. Grade: C

Nico Siragusa was chosen 122nd overall. He tore three knee ligaments in practice during training camp. The serious injury could put his career in jeopardy. Grade: Incomplete

Jermaine Eluemunor was picked at 159th overall. Despite his status as a developmental prospect, he was forced into action on a few occasions. He could develop into a viable depth piece with a strong offseason. Grade: C

Chuck Clark came off the board with the 186th draft pick. He played in 15 games, earning an increased workload late in the season. His ability as a core special teamer and capable dime safety should allow the Ravens to address other areas next offseason. Grade: B


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