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Ravens News 1/22: Potential Mosley replacement, surprise contributors and more

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Louisiana State vs Central Florida Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

6 most surprising contributors to Baltimore Ravens’ AFC North title run - Aaron Kasinitz

RB Kenneth Dixon

Dixon started the season as the Ravens’ No. 3 running back and landed on injured reserve after he suffered a hamstring injury in the opener. As the weeks wore on and he remained sidelined, it seemed Dixon’s third NFL season would wind up squandered. Not so. The Ravens chose to activate Dixon late in the year and he provided a jolt to the running game over the final five weeks of the regular season, joining with Gus Edwards to create a one-two punch in the backfield. In Baltimore’s AFC North-clinching win over the Browns on Dec. 30, Dixon piled up 117 yards on 12 carries.

RB Gus Edwards

Edwards, an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers, spent the first five weeks of the regular season on the practice squad. It took two injuries -- to Dixon and fellow rookie DeLance Turner -- for Edwards to get his shot to suit up on game days and he didn’t play much until Jackson took over as starter in Week 11. But Edwards’ powerful downhill running style fit perfectly in Baltimore’s new-look offense built around zone-read options and he became somewhat of a star late in the season. Edwards gained at least 67 rushing yards in each of the Ravens’ final seven regular-season games and topped the 100-yard mark three times. He came a long way from the practice squad.

The emergence of this two-headed rushing attack was a revelation for the Ravens after their bye week. Once Alex Collins landed on injured reserve and Buck Allen was phased out of the offense, Dixon and Edwards helped propel the NFL’s top running game.

Determining Mosley’s Market Value - Brian McFarland

It’s probably pretty fair to say that Kuechly and Bobby Wagner are better players than Mosley, while Mosley is a better player than Alec Ogletree, Benardrick McKinney and Eric Kendricks. If that was the only factor involved, then finding market value and reaching a long-term deal would be pretty easy – just slot Mosley in between the two groups.

But, when it comes to free agency, it’s all about timing – and demand – which often leads to a lesser player becoming the new highest paid player at the position.

It is also important to consider that Kuechly and Wagner signed their contracts in 2015 and the other three were signed in 2017 and 2018. More importantly, all five of these deals were contract extensions, and were not signed when the player was about to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.

So, because of all of this, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mosley receive a deal – be it from the Ravens or someone else – that will average in the $13-15M per year.

A deal in this range would make C.J. Mosley the highest paid player on the team once Joe Flacco is jettisoned. The next highest paid Ravens are Brandon Williams, Jimmy Smith and Tony Jefferson with average annual salaries of $10.5 million, $10.3 million and $8.5 million, respectively. Devoting significant cap space to a defensive tackle, inside linebacker and strong safety that are better run than pass defenders is certainly debatable.

2019 NFL Mock Draft: Kyler Murray to Giants, Steelers replace Antonio Brown, Jaguars, Redskins trade up for QB - Ryan Wilson

22. Baltimore Ravens

Devin White, LB, LSU. C.J. Mosley could hit free agency after the season and White, who could be a top-10 pick, would seamlessly transition into the role. He’s one of the most dynamic players in the draft, a sideline-to-sideline thumper who would immediately solidify the middle of the defense.

Wilson projects White to be the first inside linebacker selected in the draft. As a junior last season, the LSU product racked up 62 solo tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, six passes defensed, three sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.