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Ravens News 5/2: Pierce signs tender, draft takeaways and more

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NFL: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Pierce Signs Restricted Free Agent Tender - Clifton Brown

Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce has signed his restricted free agent tender to return next season.

Pierce is entering his fourth season with the Ravens and has steadily improved to become one of the team’s primary run-stoppers. After last season, Pro Football Focus graded Pierce as the team’s top defensive player on a unit that was ranked No. 1 in the NFL.

Pierce will earn $3.1 million in 2019. Without a contract extension, he will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Five Takeaways From the NFL Draft and What They Tell Us About the 2019 Season - Caleb Friedman

The Ravens are concocting a fascinating offensive experiment

Now, Jackson’s back in Baltimore and Flacco isn’t, and Greg Roman takes over as offensive coordinator for Marty Mornhinweg. The Ravens’ biggest question, then, becomes how the offense, which was unlike anything else in the league at the end of last season, will evolve in Jackson’s second season. The draft offered some clues. (Hint: speed. Lots of speed.)

In a run-first offense that includes a lot of quick-hitting throws, having players that can run away from defenders is an important way to manufacture big plays, especially if your quarterback can’t win consistently down the field (the jury is still out on Jackson there). As it currently stands, Baltimore has three good tight ends in Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle. The Ravens also have a proven stable of physical running backs. Now, they have the speed that will move defenders around and create space in the box. The Ravens will enter 2019 with one of the most interesting offenses in the league.

Coordinator Greg Roman now has a variety of playmakers at his disposal. Creating deception should lead to a significant improvement in explosive plays.

In Iman Marshall and Daylon Mack, Ravens went with potential over defensive need late in NFL draft - Aaron Kasinitz

In fact, cornerback and defensive tackle might stand as Baltimore’s strongest positions groups. But the Ravens took Iman Marshall and Daylon Mack on Day 3 of the draft anyway — and team officials gushed about both prospects afterward,

Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz said the decision to use a fourth-round selection on Marshall, a physical 6-foot-1 corner out of USC, was straight forward.

“He was just the best player available on our board,” Hortiz said.

“Daylon Mack – big, strong guy that we saw at the East-West game and also at the Senior Bowl,” DeCosta said. “[He has] two-gap ability as a nose tackle, also a sneaky pass rusher. He had 5.5 sacks this year, and for a big guy – 335 pounds, he ran a 5-flat 40-yard dash – he moves pretty well.”

In Iman Marshall and Daylon Mack, the Ravens addressed a pair of long-term positional needs with players who possess starting potential.

Baltimore Ravens Defensive Tackle Gerald Willis: ‘Would Be A Blessing If I Get To Hit Tom Brady Before He Retires’ - Ryan Mayer

Gerald Willis III is one of 19 players that the Ravens signed earlier this week after they went undrafted over the weekend in Nashville.

Willis broke out in his senior season in 2018, recording 59 tackles (18 for loss) and four sacks en route to being honored with 2nd team All-ACC and 2nd team All American (Sports Illustrated) honors

“Tom Brady,” said Willis. “Tom Brady before he retires man. That would be a blessing if I was able to get the chance to hit him.”

“I bring quickness. I bring ability to sack the quarterback. I am a get after the ball type of guy,” said Willis. “I am relentless. Just know that anybody who takes me is getting a ball player and a winner.”

Baltimore is scheduled to host the Patriots for a primetime tilt in Week 9.