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Ravens News 3/10: Free agent targets and more

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Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

With Free-Agent Deadline Looming: Who Stays, Who Goes for the Ravens? - Todd Karpovich

Linebackers: Matthew Judon, Josh Bynes, Patrick Onwuasor, Pernell McPhee and Jihad Ward

Analysis: The Ravens will likely use the franchise tag on Judon. That designation, which will cost the Ravens just over $16 million, will also allow general manager Eric DeCosta more time to possibly work out a new deal. Bynes, McPhee and Ward each played well enough to earn another contract. Onwuasor had a down year and never appeared to be fully comfortable with his role.

Who Stays: Judon, Bynes, McPhee and Ward.

Who Goes: Onwuasor

Baltimore Ravens potential free agent targets: Looking at options for five positions of need - Aaron Kasinitz

Logical available options: Gerald McCoy (Panthers), Derek Wolfe (Broncos) D.J. Reader (Texans), Austin Johnson (Titans)

Where the Ravens stand: Most indicators suggest the Ravens will lose defensive tackle Michael Pierce in free agency, leaving the team in need of depth and muscle up front. Baltimore’s also lacked an interior pass-rush presence in recent seasons.

McCoy’s an 32-year-old with six career Pro Bowl invites to his name who visited Baltimore as a free agent last spring. Maybe the Ravens will consider courting him again this offseason.

Like McCoy, Wolfe would help more as a pass rusher on the inside than as a run-stuffer. Wolfe, 30, finished 2019 with a career-high seven sacks, and it’ll be interesting to see how much money he commands on an open market.

Reader and Johnson fit more as direct replacements for Pierce. They’re big and physical players with experience serving as nose guards in 3-4 defenses like the one the Ravens use. Either one could help Baltimore fill out a defensive line rotation behind one-time Pro Bowler Brandon Williams.

2020 NFL free agency: Eight players who could be overpriced - Gregg Rosenthal

Jimmy Smith, cornerback: His injury history is the reason he’s on this list. Seeing how incredibly respected Smith is in Baltimore, it’s not a good sign for his future that the team that loves him for all he did --- including locking down their second Super Bowl title — is willing to let him go.

POST-COMBINE 2020 NFL DRAFT SLEEPERS - Jonah Tuls

DERREK TUSZKA, EDGE, NORTH DAKOTA STATE

At 6-foot 4-inches and 251 pounds with just 31-inch arms, Tuszka projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker with intriguing pass rush potential. He finished his career with FCS defensive player of the year honors, racking up 29 sacks over three years as a starter. His college production speaks for itself, but the biggest concern with Tuszka was whether or not his athleticism translated to the pro game.

He answered those questions right away with a strong performance in Indianapolis: a 6.87-second 3-cone drill (95th percentile), 4.34-second short shuttle (70th percentile), 120-inch broad jump (76th percentile), 4.79-second 40-yard dash (58th percentile) and 33.5-inch vertical jump (56th percentile).

Tuszka opened eyes with his standout week at the Shrine Bowl. But now that he has the strong athletic testing numbers to match his elite college production as a pass rusher, I expect his stock to rise exponentially in this edge defender class.