As they do every year, ESPN recently released their offseason grades for all 32 teams in the NFL. Senior writer Mike Sando wasn’t too high on Baltimore’s moves in free agency and the draft, giving the Ravens just a “C” letter grade.
“The Ravens subtracted defensive leaders Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, and Eric Weddle,” said Sando. “They signed former Seattle safety Earl Thomas to a deal that was costly on two levels; beyond the $32 million that was guaranteed at signing, the deal canceled out the 2020 third-round compensatory pick Baltimore could have received for losing Mosley in free agency.”
Sando also quoted an anonymous NFL executive who shared a similar sentiment.
“The defense is going to regress. They are not going to have flexibility or balance and they will be stuck. It was good for John Harbaugh to get that contract extension.”
It’s interesting that Sando chose to focus on the financial and draft pick implications of the Thomas’ signing rather than the on-field optics. While there’s no denying the leadership lost with Suggs and company, Thomas brings experience and a veteran presence to the team in his own right.
There’s also no denying Thomas isn’t a better overall player than both Weddle, whom he’s replacing at the safety position, and C.J. Mosley, who the Ravens let walk in free agency, which freed up the cap space for them to sign Thomas.
In addition, while Sando touches on the potential impact of Greg Roman’s promotion to offensive coordinator and Lamar Jackson making second-year improvements, the article makes no mention of the Mark Ingram signing, nor does it touch on anything Baltimore did in the draft.
The likes of Ingram, Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, and Justice Hill could signifcantly transform the offense into a far more potent unit. There’s also the potential that improvement from returning players like Patrick Onwuasor, Kenny Young, and Tim Williams, among others, prevent the defense from regressing all that much.
Granted, we have to wait and see how these things manifest. Because of these unknowns and the name recognition/pedigree of the players they lost in free agency, one can see where Sando is coming from in his grading process.
However, all things considered, a “C” letter grade seems a bit low. Baltimore added arguably the best free safety in the league (when healthy) in Earl Thomas, a Pro Bowl-caliber running back on an affordable deal in Mark Ingram, and several contributors in the draft that figure to have a big impact next season and beyond.
Sando wasn’t too kind to the other teams in the AFC North, either. The Bengals and Steelers also received “C” grades, while the Browns offseason was given a slightly-better “C+”.
Do you agree with ESPN’s grade for the Ravens offseason? If not, what grade would you give the team instead? Join the conversation by sharing your thoughts in the comments!