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Ravens News 3/16: Zeitler Grades and more

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New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

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Grade: Very Good

Zeitler instantly became one of the best guards on the market when he was released earlier this month by the Giants. He’s coming off a down season by his standards with New York in 2020, but his 65.9 overall grade was still the top mark of any member of that offensive line.

Zeitler has consistently been one of the best pass-protecting interior offensive linemen in the league, posting 75.0-plus pass-blocking grades in all but two seasons of his nine-year career. He figures to help solidify the right side of the Ravens’ offensive line, which could be in flux with Orlando Brown Jr.’s trade request.

Zeitler was set to make $12.5 million in 2020 with the Giants, so this new deal qualifies as a sizable pay cut and good value for the Ravens. The average of $7.5 million per year slots him in below the top tier of guards across the NFL.

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G Kevin Zeitler, Baltimore Ravens

Kevin Zeitler, who was recently a cap casualty of the Giants, signed a three year, $22 million contract with the Ravens according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. This is a move that makes sense for both sides. The Ravens were desperately in need of offensive line upgrades after Lamar Jackson had to put on his Superman cape to guide the Ravens into the postseason. Signing Zeitler will alleviate some of the pressure on him to do everything for the Ravens offense.

Zeitler isn’t the dominant guard he was at his peak with the Browns, but he’s still a quality player, especially in pass protection. If the Ravens can convince Orlando Brown to stay as Ronnie Stanley returns from an Achilles tear, the Ravens should have one of the better offensive lines in the league.

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Kevin Zeitler, RG, Ravens

3 years, $22,500,000, $16,000,000 total guarantees ($16,000,000 full)

A decent deal for both sides with the second year guarantee and strong year one cash likely being the reason this one got done so quickly. $7.5 million is a fair value for Zeitler. Structure of the contract would allow the Ravens to trade him next year if they needed to, but that would be a miss if that happened due to how much they are paying in 2021. I would guess Baltimore is actually looking at this as a three year investment that goes beyond the guarantees.

Zeitler won’t count against the Ravens comp picks which is another reason they were aggressive here with the signing. Cap is reasonable with $9 and $9.5 million chargers in the 2nd and 3rd year of the contract.

Grade: C

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The signing period doesn’t begin until Wednesday — wink-wink — but the first afternoon of the “tampering” period felt slower and the money less lucrative. I anticipated Matthew Judon’s departure, but I expected more than $14 million per season. A salary cap roughly $30 million lower than envisioned a year ago hurts.

Re-signing Pernell McPhee always made sense, but trying to push his workload beyond the 30.6 defensive snaps he averaged per game in 2020 would be unwise. Regardless of how the position group shakes out, you want to keep the 32-year-old healthy and fresh for as many games as possible.

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Loser: Ravens pass rush

While the Ravens did make a big addition to their O-line by adding guard Kevin Zeitler, John Harbaugh’s front seven did take a hit with the club losing both Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders) and Matt Judon (Patriots). Judon led the team in sacks and quarterback hits while Ngakoue wasn’t too far behind after only joining the club for nine games following a mid-season trade from the Vikings. While the Ravens have a history of restocking their defense on the fly — and should see even more production from middle linebacker Patrick Queen in Year 2 — the edge will need to catering as free agency and the draft moves forward.