This year’s divisional round weekend doesn’t feel the same for fans of the Baltimore Ravens since their team missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2017. However, it does offer another opportunity to see some potential future Ravens in action for one more time before their respective seasons come to an end.
Here is a list of soon-to-be unrestricted free agents playing this weekend that the Ravens’ front office could potentially target this offseason.
S Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs
The “Honey Badger” is at the top of every Ravens fan’s offseason wish list, according to countless Twitter polls. He is almost certainly on the organization’s radar as they prepare to embark on a pivotal offseason. The three-time First-Team All-Pro selection would be a tremendous asset for the Ravens’ defense no matter who their next defensive coordinator is because of the plethora of ways he can be deployed.
Mathieu had another spectacular season in 2021 and one of his best performances came against the Ravens in Week 2. The Chiefs came to Baltimore for a primetime heavyweight bout and he recorded six tackles, three pass deflections, and hauled in two of his three interceptions on the season, one of which he returned 34 yards for a touchdown.
He won’t come cheap and will certainly command a market-setting or value contract. However, if they could manage it under the cap after some finagling via extension and releases, it would be well worth the investment.
S Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens could also look to their AFC North rival to poach one of the best ball-hawking free safeties in the league. Even though Bates didn’t follow up his Second-Team All-Pro breakout 2020 season with another stellar one, he was still productive and impactful for the Bengals ascending young defense. While his stats and other metrics dipped in 2021, the price to acquire his services for the foreseeable future will still be high if he reaches the open market.
Cincinnati’s front office likes to retain the players that drafted and developed into upper echelon playmakers, so he might get re-signed or franchise tagged if two sides can’t agree on a long-term deal. Poaching Bates from the Bengals would be a major coup for General Manager Eric DeCosta and stoke the flames of their fierce rivalry even further.
LB De’Vondre Campbell, Green Bay Packers
While Ravens may like the potential of a Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison duo at inside linebacker, they desperately need the position group to not be a liability against the pass. Queen and Harrison are great coming downhill but have struggled mightily in coverage at times and in some key situations over their first two seasons in the league. Campbell proved to be arguably the biggest steal from last year’s free agency cycle after was named to the AP All-Pro First Team defense despite not making the Pro Bowl.
Not only did he lead the Packers in tackles by a wide margin with a career-high 146 combined mark, but this was also the seventh-highest total in the league in 2021. As stout as Campbell was against the run, he was equally as effective in coverage. He recorded a pair of interceptions, five passes defensed, and allowed a career-low opposing passer rating of 74.9. Campbell was a dangerous blitzer as well with two sacks, six quarterback hits, seven pressures, and four knockdowns.
The Packers will likely make a strong push to keep him but if he wants to test the free agency waters again, the Ravens might make a run at him. They need an inside linebacker that has a better feel and awareness of what is going on behind him in the passing game and can make plays on the ball. They’ve relied on veteran journeymen like Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort to come to their rescue at the position over the last three seasons but a player of Campbell’s caliber would take their defense to the next level.
WR Marquez Valdez Scantling, Green Bay Packers
The Ravens are pretty set at receiver after heavily investing in the position with a pair of draft picks in each of the last three years. However, they could use another speedster that can consistently get behind opposing defenses for long gains and touchdowns. Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown is their primary deep threat as the roster currently stands and while he got off to a hot start to the 2021 season stretching the field, his production tailed off dramatically down the stretch.
Valdes-Scantling is one of the fastest players and best deep ball trackers in the league and shouldn’t cost much on the open market if he decides to leave in free agency. The 2018 fifth-round pick out of South Florida averages 17.5 yards per reception and 8.7 yards per target in his career which speaks volumes about his ability to make plays after the catch.
#Packers WR Marquez Valdez-Scantling when hit in stride on his 75 yard TD receptions, clocked a top speed of 22.09 mph.— Hogg (@HoggNFL) November 21, 2021
Via @NextGenStats that is the fastest speed reached by a ball carrier this season.@MVS__11 || #GoPackGo
Marquez Valdes-Scantling beats Robert Jackson for the TD pic.twitter.com/iajpY6rzLf— packers clips (@packers_clips) December 19, 2021
CB Levi Wallace, Buffalo Bills
While the Ravens are set at starting perimeter cornerback with a pair of All-Pros in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, history and the 2021 season, in particular, validates the mantra that a team can never have enough corners. The lack of quality depth at the position cost their defense dearly in several of their close games down the stretch and Wallace has proven to be an above-average starter in the first four years of his career.
He has started in all 52 of the regular season games as well as both of the playoff bouts that he has appeared in. The 2018 undrafted free agent out of Alabama has more starting experience than his former college teammate, Anthony Averett, who will likely depart in free agency. Wallace would be an upgrade at the backup/rotational spot and would probably cost more on the open market if he isn’t re-signed by the Bills. He possesses good ball skills having recorded two interceptions in each of the last three seasons and totaled 27 passes defensed over that span as well.
DT Larry Ogunjobi, Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens need to not only get younger on the interior of their defensive line but they need more pass rush production from the unit. Acquiring a player that can consistently penetrate against the run and generate interior pressure that results in more sacks not just pressures should be near the top of their offseason priority list. Ogunjobi has spent his entire career playing for the two Ohio teams in the AFC North and is coming off his best season to date. He recorded career-highs in sacks (seven), quarterback hits (16), and tackles for loss (12) in 2021 with the Bengals, including 1.5 sacks in the first meeting against the Ravens.
Ogunjobi recently had surgery for an ankle injury he suffered in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. However, it is not career-threatening, so he will be highly sought after in free agency if he makes it to the open market. With veteran Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams slated to become unrestricted free agents and Derek Wolfe’s future currently up in the air, it may be time to make a greater investment while injecting more youth at the same time.
Good lord Larry Ogunjobi with the bench press pic.twitter.com/cErTWK8swB— Mike (Sans) (@bengals_sans) January 4, 2022
CB Mike Hughes, Kansas City Chiefs
The 2018 first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings out of UCF was traded to the Chiefs last May. He was not only able to play in every regular season game for the first time in his career but is quietly having his best year to date. In 17 games including five starts, Hughes has recorded six pass deflections, one interception, a fumble recovery that he returned for his first career touchdown, and a career-high four forced fumbles.
The Ravens might be looking to move on from the often-injured Tavon Young (27) at slot cornerback and adding a player like Hughes (24) would be the younger and likely cheaper option of the two.
MIKE HUGHES SEALS IT FOR THE CHIEFS: pic.twitter.com/oCay9RFEjL— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) September 12, 2021
CB Darious Williams, Los Angeles Rams
The former undrafted free agent out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2018 began his career with the Ravens and could have it come full circle if he is not retained by the Rams. Had he hit the open market last offseason following his breakout 2020 campaign, the Ravens wouldn’t have been able to afford him and they still might considering their current cap projections.
However, Williams wasn’t as consistent or dominant in 2021, which may drive his price down with top tier cornerbacks such as J.C. Jackson and Stephon Gilmore slated to become unrestricted free agents as well. The ball skills he put on display a year ago are exactly what the Ravens need from their quality depth players or potentially in the starting lineup.
CB Darious Williams came up with an INT in yesterday's joint practices with the Colts. pic.twitter.com/RyGfJqGj3G— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 18, 2018
C Ryan Jensen
The Ravens could be in the market for a new starting center this offseason. While they are reportedly unwilling to pay Bradley Bozeman top dollar, perhaps a potential reunion with a familiar face might persuade them to invest more at the pivotal position.
Jensen parlayed his impressive final year in Baltimore in 2016 into a lucrative deal with the Buccaneers, where went on to establish himself as one of the best centers in the league and helped the franchise win their second Vince Lombardi. His nasty and combative demeanor have been sorely missed on the Ravens’ offensive line, especially after Marshal Yanda’s retirement two seasons later. Tampa Bay won’t let him go without a fight and might even be tempted to use the franchise tag to ensure he’ll be protecting and calling out pressures with Tom Brady for at least another.
CB Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 2018 second-round pick out of Auburn is another defensive back with a wealth of starting experience and championship pedigree. While he hasn’t consistently played at a high level through his first four years in the league, Davis has started 50 of the 51 regular season games that he has appeared in. Also, he’s started in every postseason contest over that span, including a victory in Superbowl 56 last year. He has been solid thus far in his career and it’s unclear what his value will be on the open market. However, if he can be had for a reasonably priced salary, adding him would be a smart investment.
TE Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans
The Ravens could use another viable pass-catching threat at the tight end position to both complement and take some attention away from First-Team All-Pro selection Mark Andrews.
Firkser didn’t put up the numbers that many in the fantasy football community sneakily hoped he would in 2021 after Jonnu Smith departed in free agency last offseason. He finished the season with 34 receptions for 291 yards and two touchdowns on 43 targets. However, he has a history of being an underrated threat down the seam and knows how to find soft spots in zone coverage to pick up first downs. At 26 years old, he is still young, would be relatively inexpensive if he reached the open market, and will likely be available in the second or third wave of free agency if the Titans don’t re-sign him.
Dan Sorensen just got juked into oblivion by ...Anthony Firkser?— Christian D'Andrea, 2021 PAC champion (@TrainIsland) January 19, 2020
oh my pic.twitter.com/zDPw0LeM9J