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Ravens News 3/9: New defensive leaders, 2020 comp picks and more

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NCAA Football: Air Force at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Which Ravens player will become the voice of top-ranked defense? - Jamison Hensley

Eric Weddle was cut. C.J. Mosley didn’t get the franchise tag. Terrell Suggs is headed to free agency for the first time in his career.

These three players have combined for 460 NFL starts and 17 Pro Bowls. Weddle, Mosley and Suggs also have teamed up to become the core leaders on the best defense in the NFL.

Suggs has been the face of the Baltimore Ravens’ defense for the past six seasons, taking over Ray Lewis’ role in giving emotional pregame speeches. Weddle and Mosley were the defensive playcallers and helped put teammates in the right positions before the ball was snapped.

Who will take the reigns if Suggs and Mosley sign elsewhere in free agency next week? On the day Weddle officially got cut, he pointed at safety Tony Jefferson and outside linebacker Matthew Judon as the next leaders.

”It’s their time,” Weddle said. “They’ve learned from us older guys and it’s a revolving door in that sense. Those guys got to step up. There’s no doubt. I know they will.”

“The guys that are there, they understand and they know what to do,” Weddle said. “It obviously would hurt but life goes on. There will be a void, but guys will step up.”

Normally, the ‘green dot’ captain lines up in the middle of the formation to facilitate communication of the play call.

5 questions for Baltimore Ravens to consider before free agency opens - Aaron Kasinitz

How much of the NFL’s top-ranked defense should they keep together?

Five of the Ravens’ 11 defensive starters are candidates to depart. That number climbs to a half-dozen if the team chooses to release cornerback Jimmy Smith in a cost-trimming move.

The Ravens allowed the fewest yards in the NFL last season thanks to a defense packed with talent, experience and leadership and hope to maintain such a strength for years to come. But they also want to get younger and create more flexibility under the salary cap, a process they expedited by releasing Weddle.

Can Baltimore retain Mosley and Suggs or Smith at a reasonable price? And if not, how can the team keep the defense from crumbling in the wake of a mass exodus of accomplished veterans?

In recent interviews, DeCosta’s walked a fine line between committing to his older players and setting the grounds for a defensive makeover. Soon, he might have to jump to one side or the other.

Releasing Jimmy Smith would result in $9.5 million of net cap savings in exchange for $6.4 million of dead money. However, the cover man’s contract is not excessive at his premium position and continuity at cornerback would help bring stability to a defense that is undergoing significant change.

2020 Compensatory Picks Potential - Nick Korte

Ravens

Pending UFAs: 10

This will be Eric DeCosta’s first offseason at the helm of the Ravens, taking over for well know comp pick collector Ozzie Newsome. Will he continue this tradition in Baltimore? Time will tell, but if DeCosta wants to do so, he’ll have to be restrained in unrestricted free agency. On the one hand, the Ravens’ quality of pending UFAs is high. CJ Mosley, Za’Darius Smith, and Brent Urban have all been high performing starters on defense, along with the age defying Terrell Suggs. On offense, Buck Allen could see some attention too. But on the other hand, with only 10 pending UFAs total, the quantity is low. Several good arguments can be made on how the Ravens should proceed, but it shouldn’t surprise to see the Ravens with some form of comp picks as usual. Potential: High

If the linebackers flee in free agency, Baltimore should receive at least one third round compensatory pick.

BREAKING THE 2019 WIDE RECEIVER CLASS INTO NFL ROLES - Brad Kelly

“X” RECEIVER

D.K. Metcalf

Kelvin Harmon

Hakeem Butler

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Miles Boykin

“Z” RECEIVER

Riley Ridley

Terry McLaurin

Emanuel Hall

Darius Slayton

Deebo Samuel

Parris Campbell

“SLOT” RECEIVER

Marquise Brown

Mecole Hardman

“BIG SLOT” RECEIVER

N’Keal Harry

A.J. Brown

Jalen Hurd

With Willie Snead set the man the slot, the Ravens should be in the market for a split end (X) and flanker (Z) to compete with Chris Moore.

PFF 2019 NFL Mock Draft 4 - Steve Palazzolo

22. BALTIMORE RAVENS: DEVIN BUSH, LB

With C.J. Mosley hitting free agency, Bush adds an explosive presence in the middle of the field who can also attack as a blitzer (47 pressures on only 184 career rushes).

Bush may develop into a better linebacker than C.J. Mosley. He possesses superior athleticism across the board, with sideline-to-sideline speed and the agility to mirror in coverage.