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Ravens News 2/22: FA Predictions and more

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Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens NFL offseason preview: Getting Lamar Jackson back on track starts with improved OL - Jamison Hensley

Best-case offseason scenario: The Ravens solidify center and middle linebacker in free agency, address the other major needs (offensive tackle, defensive line and pass rush) in the first three rounds of the draft and find a way to keep Pro Bowl fullback Ricard. If Baltimore can’t re-sign Bozeman, the Ravens bring back Ryan Jensen and his nasty streak. The Ravens love signing other teams’ salary-cap cuts (because they don’t count against compensatory picks), and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner would represent a great fit if he is let go by the Seattle Seahawks.

Five young players the Ravens need more from in 2022 - Luke Jones

ILB Patrick Queen

For the second straight offseason, we’re discussing the need for improvement and more consistency from Queen, which isn’t what you envision with a first-round pick. The 22-year-old admitted he even “pouted for a few days” when his struggles were most pronounced early in the 2021 season and the Ravens inserted veteran Josh Bynes at the Mike linebacker spot. But Queen did play better after that, leading the team in tackles for a loss for a second straight year. In fairness, his lack of starting experience at LSU wasn’t exactly a secret and Queen will now have his third position coach in as many years, which isn’t ideal for the development of a 6-foot, 232-pound linebacker who’s made splash plays to show off his potential.

While Queen displayed better tackling as his second season progressed, improvement in pass coverage remains the biggest key in determining whether he’ll be the kind of first-round pick warranting a second contract. According to Pro Football Reference, his numbers were worse in that department than they were in 2020, meaning there’s still much work to be done.

AFC North Whiparound: How big is the gap for the Bengals? Combine focus, possible cuts - Jeff Zrebiec

Every team has obvious needs. Looking at draft picks, salary-cap space and perhaps even trade candidates, summarize the number of assets the team you cover has to fill its needs this offseason.

All things considered, the Ravens are in OK shape. They have about $9 million of cap space, but that number will grow significantly before March 14 with a few cap cuts, some contract alterations and perhaps an extension or two. The Ravens won’t have enough cap flexibility to be huge spenders in free agency, but they don’t want to be that team anyway. They’ll have enough room to sign a few of their own free agents and add an outside free agent or two. Their primary means of adding talent will be the draft, and they’ll have at least 10 picks with which to work. Nine of those picks will be in the first four rounds. There’s no reason Eric DeCosta and company can’t come out of this draft with two Day 1 starters and a few other immediate contributors.

2022 NFL Free Agency: Updated landing spots for PFF’s top 50 free agents - Arjun Menon

17. S TYRANN MATHIEU, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens – Three years, $48.75 million ($30.75 million guaranteed)

All signs have pointed to the Chiefs and Mathieu splitting up, and his playmaking skills would be welcome anywhere. The Ravens’ needs are tough to evaluate because their entire secondary was hurt last year, but they were interested in Mathieu when he was a free agent in 2019, so he could be on their radar again given their current situation at safety.

Additionally, their new defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald had a similar versatile safety at Michigan in Daxton Hill, who lined up all over the place. Hill played box safety, slot corner and some dime backer for MacDonald, which is a role Mathieu can emulate.

30. DI CALAIS CAMPBELL, BALTIMORE RAVENS

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens — One year, $8 million (fully guaranteed)

Campbell is another guy who’s been steady despite his advanced age. In 2021, he finished with an 80.8 PFF grade — his sixth year with an 80.0-plus grade. His best fit is with a team that lines him up over guards and allows his skill set to flourish. His durability hasn’t really been a concern, either, especially since he played every game this past season.

Which Free Agents Will Be Back With The Ravens? Part One: Offense - Bo Smolka

C Bradley Bozeman: 15 percent chance of returning

Bozeman was one of the Ravens’ most consistent players on an offensive line that struggled this past season, and the contributions of this two-time Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee go well beyond the field.

Pro Football Focus ranked Bozeman No. 11 overall and No. 5 in pass blocking among centers this past year, while ESPN listed Bozeman No. 2 among centers in pass block win rate, which measures whether a lineman can sustain his block for 2.5 seconds or longer.

Ten centers have contracts worth at least $10 million in average annual value, according to spotrac.com, which tracks player salaries. Whether Bozeman can command that remains to be seen, but the Ravens and Bozeman have remained far apart in negotiations, and at this point, Bozeman is more likely to find his asking price elsewhere.

FB Patrick Ricard: 30 percent

Ricard received a two-year extension two years ago worth $7.3 million, and he has added two more Pro Bowl appearance since then. He could be seeking to become the league’s highest paid fullback.

How brisk will the market be for a fullback in a pass-happy league? Ricard is about to find out, and if the price gets too high, the Ravens will let him walk and begin to groom Ben Mason, their fifth-round draft pick who was cut, signed by New England but returned to the Ravens this winter on a reserve/future deal.