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Ravens News 7/16: Contract projections and more

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Mike Preston: As Lamar Jackson hype continues to build, don’t overlook Ravens’ offensive line paving way Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

2020 NFL Team Preview Series: Baltimore Ravens - Steve Palazzolo

The Baltimore Ravens were the model franchise when it came to using every edge to win games in 2019.

From building their offense perfectly around Lamar Jackson’s skill set to playing a unique brand of aggressive defense to attacking fourth downs with a winning mentality rather than a not-to-lose one, Baltimore maximized its season en route to a 14-win campaign.

The Ravens remain strong in the right areas, and this year they’re looking to get over the playoff hump after first-round exits in each of the last two seasons.

It may be difficult for Jackson to duplicate his incredible statistics from a year ago — a touchdown rate of 9.0% is just not sustainable — but he’ll still be one of the league’s most dangerous quarterbacks. His improved accuracy puts defenses in a bind, and the next step will be passing in come-from-behind situations where the conditions are less favorable.

This should be one of the best offensive lines in the league once again, aided in part by Lamar Jackson’s ability to open up the offense, but they’ll miss Yanda’s all-around game up front.

The Ravens have an elite defense that has been built back to front, with resources plowed into the secondary as more and more evidence surfaces as to the importance of coverage.

DEVELOPMENT NEEDED: JAYLON FERGUSON

Ferguson ranked near the bottom among rookie edge defenders in both overall and pass-rush grade, as he picked up 30 pressures on 287 rushes. That number isn’t bad, but 11 of them were late in the down, and his pass-rush win rate of 10.0% ranked just 91st out of 110 qualifiers.

The Ravens need more players who can win one-on-one matchups up front, and the 2019 third-rounder will be a crucial part of the defensive line rotation.

Baltimore Ravens position preview: Here comes a new generation of inside linebackers - Aaron Kasinitz

Digging for depth

The question is whether Baltimore has any other linebackers worthy of real playing time. Board’s been a steady presence on special teams the past two years, and Alaka displayed signs of promise in practices as an undrafted rookie last season before suffering a hamstring injury.

Roster projection

In my latest projection, I guessed Queen, Harrison and Fort would be the only full-time inside linebackers to make the 53-man roster at the start of the season. With Baltimore interested in playing safeties like Anthony Levine and Chuck Clark as dime linebackers, the Ravens don’t need to keep much depth at the position.

Top five NFL rivalries entering the 2020 season: 49ers-Seahawks are back on top - Bryan DeArdo

3. Ravens vs. Titans

OK, this rivalry isn’t nearly as juicy as the previous two. But considering what the Titans did to the Ravens during the 2019 playoffs, along with Lamar Jackson’srecent comments about Baltimore “overlooking” Tennessee prior to the Titans’ 28-12 win, makes this a very interesting matchup to keep an eye on as the 2020 season progresses. If both teams are as good as advertised, the Titans’ Week 11 trip to Baltimore should be one of the most anticipated games on the 2020 regular season schedule.

As is the case with the previous two rivalries on this list, the narratives in this rivalry are pretty juicy. The Titans are looking to prove that last year’s playoff run wasn’t a fluke, while Jackson is out to show that he can have success in the playoffs after falling to 0-2 in the playoffs as Baltimore’s starting quarterback this past January.

Projecting the Baltimore Ravens Next Five Biggest Contracts - Ben Ramos-Salsberg

Projecting the Baltimore Ravens Next Five Biggest Contracts

1. Lamar Jackson (QB) – Contract Expiration: 2022 + 2023 option

Jackson’s numbers could be hard to repeat on a yearly basis but with his work ethic being one of his defining traits, his ceiling is immensely high. As long as he’s on the field, he may be the most dynamic player in NFL history and has earned every bit of a salary close to Mahomes.

Predicted Contract: Six-years/$270 million

2. Ronnie Stanley (LT) – Contract Expiration: 2021

If Stanley gets to the open market, there’s no doubt his AAV will be in the ballpark of $25 million per year. If he were to stay with the Ravens, his yearly salary would likely have to take a hit.

Predicted Contract: Five-years/$120 million

3. Marlon Humphrey (CB) – Contract Expiration: 2022

One of DeCosta’s first moves as general manager was extending fellow corner Tavon Young‘s contract through 2021 and it likely isn’t a coincidence that both he and Humphrey’s contracts expire at the same time.

The Ravens made their living off of their defensive backs in 2019 and Humphrey is perhaps the most important member of the secondary.

Predicted Contract: Five-years/$90 million

4. Mark Andrews (TE) – Contract Expiration: 2022

Andrews finished 2019 leading all tight ends in receiving touchdowns and he was fifth in receiving yards. This was despite playing just 41 percent of snaps on the year — 38th among tight ends.

If Andrews wants to be paid like an every-down tight end, that money likely won’t come from the Ravens.

Predicted Contract: Five-years/$55 million

5. Orlando Brown Jr. (RT) – Contract Expiration: 2022

There could be a lot of change on the Ravens line over the next calendar year and whether or not to pay Brown will be one of their biggest decisions in 2022.

Predicted Contract: Four-years/$68 million