Biggest 2019 offseason needs for all 32 NFL teams - Jamison Hensley
Add a playmaker on offense.
The Ravens produced 57 plays of 20 yards or more, which ranked 24th in the NFL. Baltimore has to add more explosive talent around Lamar Jackson, whether it’s a young wide receiver or a dynamic running back. The Ravens can’t count on marching down the field on 10- and 11-play drives. Baltimore needs someone to generate chunk plays and take pressure off its new franchise quarterback.
With a weak class of free agent receivers and the pitfalls of offering lucrative second contracts to running backs well documented, Baltimore should focus on upgrading their offensive weaponry through the draft. Receivers D.K. Metcalf, N’Keal Harry, Kelvin Harmon and Marquise Brown could be early round targets, while backs Damien Harris, Benny Snell, Elijah Holyfield and Mike Weber may be quality mid round options.
Top 10 under-the-radar free agents - Michael Renner
#1 Za’Darius Smith 71.1 Overall Grade
It’s setting up to be a deep edge class, which makes Smith that much more appealing on the open market. The other edge-rusher out of Kentucky in 2015, the former fourth-rounder passed up Bud Dupree in a big way this season. Smith notched 60 pressures, the 17th most among edge defenders in the league. He doesn’t offer too much in the way of run defense, but hey, it’s 2019.
Pass rushers are always in high demand. In 2017 the Packers signed Nick Perry to a five-year $60 million deal and the Chargers locked up Melvin Ingram on a four-year $64 million agreement. DeMarcus Lawrence, Frank Clark, Dee Ford and Jadeveon Clowney are the only free agents that posted more than Za’Darius Smith’s 8.5 sacks in 2018.
Ravens bracing for different look for NFL’s No. 1 defense - Jamison Hensley
Five starters -- outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, safety Eric Weddle, cornerback Jimmy Smith and defensive end Brent Urban -- are all questionable on whether they’ll return next season. That’s nearly half the starting lineup for a group that allowed only three teams (the Bengals, Panthers and Chiefs) to score more than 25 points this season.
”I’m still at a loss for words, honestly,” defensive tackle Michael Pierce said. “Hopefully, we can get those guys back, but everybody knows it’s the NFL, how free agency works. So it’s going to be a tough road.”
Hypothetically, the Ravens could use their 2019 cap space (currently $34.6 million before any releases or trades) to keep nearly the entire defense intact. More likely, however, the franchise will be choose between Suggs and Smith and retain either Weddle or Mosley.
17 Baltimore Ravens who might not return next season - Aaron Kasinitz
RB Alex Collins (restricted free agent)
Collins joined the Ravens the week before the 2017 season began and shot to stardom with a strong campaign. His second act in Baltimore didn’t go as well, and a trip to the injured reserve list in December ended a disappointing season. The Ravens could place a tender on Collins and have the chance to match any offer he receives on the open market. They might just decide to let him walk, though.
TE Maxx Williams (unrestricted free agent)
Williams’ pass-catching production tailed off after a strong rookie season in 2015, but he still provided value this year as a blocker and occasional route-runner. The Ravens drafted tight ends Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst in April and must also make a decision on free agent-to-be Nick Boyle. It seems unlikely both Williams and Boyle return in 2019, despite offering steady play this season.
TE Nick Boyle (unrestricted free agent)
Boyle played more often than Williams this season and is considered a sturdy blocking tight end. If the Ravens don’t re-sign Boyle, they’d need to find another player like him to pair with Andrews and Hurst in the tight ends room.
Most of the attention will be on Eric DeCosta’s decisions at linebacker and wide receiver. An underrated offseason storyline is which players he will he decide to re-sign that impact the rushing offense.