In the past three offseasons (2019, 2020, 2021), the Baltimore Ravens have added the following veteran players on the offensive side of the football:
• Mark Ingram
• Seth Roberts
• D.J. Fluker
• Kevin Zeitler
During that same span, Marshal Yanda retired and Hayden Hurst quietly requested a trade.
At the same time, they’ve poured resources into their defense, acquiring Marcus Peters, Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe and Earl Thomas. It seems more cost effective to buy the defense and draft the offense, which the Ravens have done for the most part. In the past two drafts, the Ravens have selected:
• Marquise Brown
• Miles Boykin
• Justice Hill
• Ben Powers
• J.K. Dobbins
• Devin Duvernay
• Tyree Phillips
• Ben Bredeson
• James Proche
Out of that group, three or four will likely receiving starter type workloads. The draft, at best, will provide two impact players on a given side of the ball. Once in a blue moon, the stars will align, and you might walk away with five or six legitimate NFL players.
However, the Ravens haven’t added a blue chip talent offensively since fully committing to Lamar Jackson ahead of the 2019 season. Marquise Brown has been good. So has J.K. Dobbins. Yet, Baltimore has struggled in eerily similar ways in the postseason on the offensive side of the ball in each of the past three seasons.
There have been injuries, obstacles, bad breaks and downright unlucky bounces of the leather oblong object which the game is played with. Fortunately, they’ve returned year after year. The Ravens have added a dearth of defensive talent in that time, largely in part to their star quarterback’s measly rookie salary. That will be over after 2021. Jackson will be playing for at least $25 million on his contract’s fifth year option, which the Ravens will certainly pick up.
Then what? The cap is going to increase due to new TV deals and a (hopeful) return to normalcy (or as much as we can get back) from a terrible pandemic. Prices will also go up, and you will be working with an expensive quarterback. The Ravens should’ve learned from this after they extended Joe Flacco and slowly gave away all of his favorite toys before leaving him with Kamar Aiken and Crockett Gilmore to try and fight for the playoffs, at best, for three years. Despite the lumps they took, they had a Lombardi Trophy to show for it. This era of Ravens football . . . does not.
While free agency and bold moves have often flamed out, teams like the Chiefs, Rams, Saints, Buccaneers and Patriots have gone “all in” year after year. In Baltimore, there’s always fear of “mortgaging the future.” However, is adding one outside, blue chip playmaker mortgaging the future? Or simply opening up a credit card?
Will Fuller V is available. He would be a nice step to improving the weapons at Lamar Jackson’s disposal that shouldn’t break the bank. Fuller has been among the Top-17 receivers in yards per route run in each of the last three seasons, ranking ninth this past year. That would be head and shoulders above any Raven in that same time, with only Marquise Brown in the same ballpark. Of course, by the time this article is published Fuller will likely be signed to a team that values the wide receiver position more than Baltimore does.
Will Fuller I can absolutely be talked into. pic.twitter.com/LVkpber9Kh— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) March 18, 2021
Perhaps Baltimore fans have grown fickle and spoiled. The 2012-13 Super Bowl run did take several strokes of luck. The pandemic and restricted cap have certainly made navigating waters difficult. Nonetheless, if the goal is to hoist a Lombardi Trophy, the Ravens need to go all in. They can’t afford to waste the last year of Lamar Jackson’s cheap contract.
Whether it’s acquiring another starting-caliber offensive linemen, trading for a top shelf receiver, or trading up in the draft to add Ja’Marr Chase or Kyle Pitts at the expense of some future draft picks . . . they need to go all in. Perhaps a trade is made similar to what the Bills did to acquire Stefon Diggs, or the Cardinals to acquire DeAndre Hopkins. It doesn’t have to happen in free agency, or even the draft, but if the Ravens make it to the 2021 regular season without adding another blue chip offensive talent, they’re doing themselves a disservice.
Would you rather look back and say, “we tried, but the cap was too tough.” Fortune favors the bold. This the last chance to capitalize before extending Lamar Jackson. If not now, when?