Pursue Le’Veon Bell? Ravens would need to buck history to get top back - Jamison Hensley
During the previous five offseasons, the only Ravens’ free agent to receive over $10 million per season and over $20 million guaranteed is nose tackle Brandon Williams when he re-signed with Baltimore in 2017. In that same span, Baltimore paid three free agents from other teams over $5 million per season and over $10 million in guaranteed money: safeties Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle and wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
What makes this free-agency period so intriguing for the Ravens is they can go off-script this week. Baltimore has a new general manager in Eric DeCosta and the Ravens have their most salary-cap room in recent memory.
But DeCosta has talked about being more “financially responsible” with the salary cap going forward and paying big bucks to a 27-year-old running back doesn’t seem to fit that plan.
“As far as running backs nowadays, I do think you’ve got to have a stable of them,” Roman said last month. “So, however that unfolds, we could have a guy with one particular skillset. We could have the downhill guy. We like them all. We’ll fit them in.”
So, do the Ravens view Bell as a generational talent with fresh legs or an aging back who has 1,541 touches of wear and tear on his body?
DeCosta has enough salary cap space at his disposal to make one splashy free agent signing. A case can be made that he is better off using the funds to acquire a center or free safety because it is more difficult to find plug-and-play starters in the draft at these positions compared to running back.
The Packers once tried to trade for Za’Darius Smith, the Baltimore edge rusher. Now, with a crying need on the edge, Green Bay could be a match with Smith in free agency.
Top 50 prospects for 2019 NFL Draft 3.0 - Daniel Jeremiah
21. Clelin Ferrell, Edge
Ferrell has excellent size, length and power. As a pass rusher, he lacks an elite get-off, but he has an effective dip/rip move and can generate some knockback with his hands. He has some stiffness at the top of his rush, but his effort is outstanding and he’s a finisher once he gets to the quarterback. Against the run, he can hold the point of attack and does a nice job shedding blocks. Overall, Ferrell lacks elite athleticism, but I love his combination of size, effort and production.
24. Brian Burns, Edge
Burns is a tall, skinny edge rusher with excellent length and athleticism. As a pass rusher, he has an explosive get-off and the ability to bend/wrap at the top of his rush. He also has an explosive inside counter move. However, he doesn’t have any snap once engaged and fails to convert speed to power. He needs to win early in the down. As a run defender, he lacks the girth and strength to consistently hold the point of attack, but he plays with excellent effort on the back side. Overall, Burns needs to get stronger, but his upside is sky high because of his length and speed.
44. L.J. Collier, Edge
Collier has the size and skill set to line up on the edge or inside. He is extremely twitched up and he jars opponents once he gets his hands on them. In the passing game, he uses a shake/bull rush move and he can also pop/separate from blocks while only using one arm. He can convert speed to power off the edge. He isn’t an elite bender at the top of his pass rush but he still finds a way to finish. He has the strength to hold the point of attack against the run and his effort is solid. Overall, Collier isn’t the biggest name in this DL class, but it wouldn’t shock me if he emerged as the top player at the position three to four years from now.
45. Jaylon Ferguson, Edge
Ferguson has ideal size, length, power and production. He has experience standing up on the edge, as well as putting his hand on the ground. In the passing game, he is a pure power rusher. He uses a violent stutter bull rush and he’ll mix in a long-arm move, as well as an occasional hand swipe. He has very heavy hands and OTs immediately give ground once he lands them. He is a little tight at the top of his rush, but he’s an excellent finisher (see: 45 sacks at Louisiana Tech, including 17.5 this past season). In the run game, he can use his length to set the edge. His effort on the back side needs to improve. He’ll take some snaps off. Overall, Ferguson isn’t a bendy edge defender, but I love his physicality and ability to finish. He should be a Day 1 starter in the NFL.
Potential replacements for Baltimore legend Terrell Suggs.