The Baltimore Ravens entered the 2021 offseason with five of their six edge defenders slated to be unrestricted free agents. After they reportedly lost their top two outside linebackers from the 2020 season to a pair of conference rivals, all the attention turned toward making sure they retained the services of fourth-year pro Tyus Bowser.
It looks like they have done just that —
#Ravens are re-signing OLB Tyus Bowser to a 4-year deal, $22m (upside to $27m), with $12m gtd, source said.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 16, 2021
The Ravens are bringing back Bowser to be their starting SAM linebacker for a fraction of the price of what the New England Patriots will reportedly pay Matthew Judon. The disparity in their average annual salary is stark at $14 million for Judon compared to just $5.5 million for Bowser with the opportunity to max out at $6.75 million if incentives are met.
Bowser was drafted in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of Houston. After an up and down start to his career where he showed flashes, he carved out a vital role in the Ravens defense over the last two seasons. Despite being deployed as a rotational piece, making just two starts in 67 career games including the playoffs, he still managed to blossom into a well-rounded and complete outside linebacker.
An area where Bowser took the biggest leap over the last two seasons was in coverage, where he excelled and played better than any linebacker on the roster. While his sack total dipped in 2020 compared to 2019, he recorded career highs in both interceptions (3) and pass breakups (5) and allowed a career-low opposing passer rating of 42.2 last season.
Matthew Judon: $14M AVV— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) March 16, 2021
Yannick Ngakoue: $13M AVV
Tyus Bowser: $5.5M AVV
Eric DeCosta got excellent value with Bowser, whose all-around ability and coverage skills as a SAM is underrated. Ravens still need more pass-rush help, but Bowser’s a key signing.pic.twitter.com/3ZsRRzseeq
The Ravens’ outside linebacker depth chart will still look a lot different than the one they finished with in 2020. However, holding on the Boswer at this price not only ensures that they’ll be able to make more moves in free agency, but it also means that they won’t have a glaring hole to fill at the SAM spot — which is one of the key components to Defensive Coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s scheme.
After sitting behind Judon for the last two years, Bowser will have the opportunity to shine in a full-time starter roll going forward. He could be poised for a truly transcendent season come this fall. The signing also marks another great coup for General Manager Eric DeCosta, who locked up another starter for the foreseeable future on a bargain deal.