After C.J. Mosley signed with Jets, Patrick Onwuasor was tasked with replacing him in the middle of the defense. Well, Onwuasor did not take the leap forward that many expected. In addition, fellow inside linebackers Kenny Young and Chris Board were not playing at a high-level. As a result, the unit struggled early in the season. After giving up over 500 total yards to the Browns in a Week 4 loss, it was clear the front office needed to make a move.
So, they made two moves. L.J. Fort was signed after his release by the Eagles, and former Raven Josh Bynes was signed after spending seven months as a free agent. Impressively, Bynes had an interception against the Steelers just four days after signing. Both players proved to be immediate upgrades and became integral to the team's sudden 12-game winning streak.
Fort was rewarded in November with a two-year contract extension, but Bynes is set to hit free agency. Although he is not the biggest name on the market, the Ravens need to re-sign him.
Bynes quietly had one of the strongest seasons among linebackers. His PFF grade of 79.4 ranked sixth among linebackers this season. This is not an isolated occurrence, either; he had a PFF rating of 75.3 with the Cardinals in 2018. That included a run defense grade of 80.2.
While Bynes is a good run defender, he really stood out in pass coverage. Opponets had a passer rating of only 47.4, when targeting him. Let's compare that to his fellow inside linebackers.
Opponent passer rating when targeted
- Josh Bynes: 47.4
- L.J. Fort: 84.1
- Patrick Onwuasor: 118.6
- Chris Board: 118.7
In addition, Bynes had a career-high two interceptions.
Inside linebacker is still a need for the Ravens entering the draft, but having a solid veteran like Bynes on the roster would be extremely helpful. There would be no pressure for a draft pick to step into a starting role immediately, and a prospect could have time to develop.
Bynes was signed to a contract that paid him only $930,000, and his previous deal with the Cardinals paid him an average of $1.858 million per season. Considering that, the Ravens will not have to sacrifice a lot of cap space to retain him. Considering his market value and production, Bynes is one of the best values on the entire free agent market.