In just about a month, the 2022 NFL free agency period will officially will commence. For the next few weeks, much of the talk surrounding the Ravens will be what free agents could they sign or re-sign, and what pending free agents might they lose to other teams.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Matt Bowen listed the best fits for each of their Top-50 free agents this offseason. Fowler and Bowen linked the Ravens to a pair of offensive lineman, one of which is a familiar face in Baltimore — Bradley Bozeman.
Bozeman is an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career after being drafted by the Ravens in 2018. He’s started 16 games in each of the past three seasons and in 2021, he made a position switch from guard to center. Having spent his entire four-year career with the Ravens, it’s not a hot take to say Baltimore is the “best fit” for him in free agency.
“Bozeman stays in Baltimore because of the run game structure,” Bowen wrote. “He’s a meat and potatoes lineman, with the strength to dig out defenders and the awareness/toughness to battle up front.”
Bozeman is in fact a great scheme-fit for the Ravens, but there has been much speculation in recent weeks that the team may not re-sign him in free agency. Rumors have suggested the two parties have not found common ground in contract talks. Bozeman’s asking price will probably make him one of the league’s highest-paid centers. It’s possible that the team’s decision to give Patrick Mekari a three-year contract extension last month hinted they are not confident Bozeman will be returning.
The former sixth-round pick and Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee has been a consistent contributor for the Ravens. In 2021, he earned a PFF grade of 73.3 and allowed only three sacks on the season in over 1,100 snaps.
On this ESPN list, Bozeman ranks No. 31 out of the Top-50 free agents — ranking behind only seven other offensive lineman and one other center (Ryan Jensen). He’s the third highest-placed interior offensive lineman, also.
The other player Fowler and Bowen link to the Ravens is one of the lineman ahead of Bozeman but is an offensive tackle: Trent Brown. It’s no secret that addressing the offensive tackle position will be a priority for the Ravens this offseason, which Fowler notes in his reasoning.
“Baltimore is in a transition at tackle with Alejandro Villanueva turning 34 in September and Ronnie Stanley missing most of the past two seasons with a severe ankle injury,” Fowler wrote. “Quarterback Lamar Jackson would have fun running behind this mammoth man.”
Brown is ranked No. 18 on the ESPN list, 13 spots ahead of Bozeman. He’s the fourth-highest offensive lineman and third-highest offensive tackle behind only Terron Armstead and Orlando Brown Jr.
Brown returned to the Patriots last season after a two-year stint with the Raiders in 2019 and 2020. He missed almost half of the 2021 season due to a calf injury and appeared in 16 combined games in two seasons with the Raiders. When healthy and on the field, though, Brown has proven to be a high-level offensive tackle.
In his nine games in 2021, Brown allowed just one sack and was penalized once, earning a PFF grade of 77.6. The 28-year-old boasts a 6-foot-8, 380-pound frame, which could make him an ideal tackle in the Ravens’ gap-heavy run system.
“Brown is an easy fit given the power he displays at the point of attack and the light feet we see on the tape,” Bowen wrote. “Pull, he can block down and move people. He’s an upgrade in Greg Roman’s offensive structure.”
Brown would indeed be an upgrade over the Ravens’ offensive tackle situation from this past season. Villanueva struggled for much of the year and while Patrick Mekari performed admirably during his stint at right tackle, he was in-and-out of the lineup with injuries.
The Ravens may need Mekari to play center in 2022, Villanueva is unlikely to return and Ronnie Stanley’s health is a question mark. Needless to say, the offensive tackle spot will be a point of emphasis for the team this offseason, so it’s not a surprise to see one of the top options like Brown linked with Baltimore.
Like Bozeman, Brown too is an unrestricted free agent and both players figure to command a high price tag on the open market. Retaining the former or acquiring someone like the latter would definitely be a big move for the Ravens and help solidify their offensive line.