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3 under-the-radar offseason moves that could pay dividends for the Ravens in 2020

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens offseason was headlined by the big-name additions of Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, Patrick Queen and J.K. Dobbins, among others. Additionally, retaining incumbent free agents like Marcus Peters and Matthew Judon also stand out as high-octane moves.

However, in addition to the transactions listed above, Eric DeCosta and company made a number of less-heralded moves that could similarly have a major impact on the team’s success in 2020.

What are your thoughts on the three acquisitions below? Vote in the polls at the end of this article and join in on the conversation with any other considerations!


Re-signing Pernell McPhee

The latest of the Ravens’ free agent signings this offseason came on May 5, when it was announced that the team had re-signed OLB Pernell McPhee to a one-year deal.

McPhee rejoined Baltimore in 2019 after playing the first four seasons of his career with the Ravens. Unfortunately, his return was cut short after seven games, as McPhee suffered a torn triceps injury in Week 7 and missed the remainder of the season.

When the Ravens held off on adding an edge rusher in the draft, it almost felt like a given that McPhee would be back - and sure enough that’s what happened.

McPhee is now 31 years old but demonstrated last year that he still has plenty left in the tank. In seven appearances, McPhee had racked up three sacks, six QB hits and nine pressures. He was on his way to his best statistical campaign in quite some time.

The Ravens needed consistent, starter-level production from McPhee last season, as he was the only established pass-rusher at the position aside from Matthew Judon. In 2020, though, McPhee can work in more of a rotational role alongside Jaylon Ferguson and Tyus Bowser.

McPhee’s veteran leadership and playoff experience will also be invital as the Ravens look to make a push towards a Super Bowl appearance.


Signing D.J. Fluker

The Ravens added a number of offensive lineman this offseason to help replace Marshal Yanda, and the competition for the vacant right guard spot should be intense. Heading into training camp, veteran D.J. Fluker likely has the inside track.

Fluker was signed to a one-year in late April after being released by the Seahawks earlier in the offseason. Fluker’s play in Seattle was inconsistent, but the former first-round pick did start in all 14 of his appearances in 2019.

Fluker spent the past two seasons with the Seahawks after playing for the Chargers and Giants, briefly, between 2013-2017.

At 6-foot-5, 342 Ibs, Fluker’s size gives him an advantage as a mauler in the downhill run game, as does his impressive 7-foot wingspan. Given his athletic traits and scheme fit, Fluker could potentially thrive in Greg Roman’s offensive system.

He’s the only candidate for the starting right guard spot with experience to his name, as Ben Bredeson and Tyre Phillips are rookies and Ben Powers appeared in just one game last season.


Re-signing Jihad Ward

Another lowkey but well-received move was the re-signing of Jihad Ward, who also was given a one-year contract. Ward joined the Ravens in Week 4 of the 2019 season and saw his role expand as the season progressed.

From Week 5 on, Ward played over 50% of defensive snaps in all but one game, which was the 42-21 drubbing of the Jets on Thursday Night Football in Week 12. Ward’s increasing and then steady snap count reflects the trust he quickly earned from the coaching staff.

His numbers don’t jump off the page, but they fail to tell the whole story. On the season, Ward posted seven tackles, six pressures, six QB hits and one sack. In a rotational role, though, he seemingly made a number of impact plays throughout the year.

Ward is a natural defensive end but possesses the versatility to kick inside and outside along the front seven, which gives “Wink” Martindale yet another tool to work with. He should provide steady depth behind Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, while the upgrades the Ravens made on the defensive line could open up more individual opportunities for him to make his share of plays.


Poll

Which move do you think will have the biggest impact in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Re-signing Pernell McPhee
    (464 votes)
  • 39%
    Signing D.J. Fluker
    (398 votes)
  • 8%
    Re-signing Jihad Ward
    (88 votes)
  • 6%
    Other
    (68 votes)
1018 votes total Vote Now