The 2022 offseason is well underway and the new league year is upon us. With an increased salary cap of $208.2 million for the 2022 season, the Baltimore Ravens will have more monetary resources to fortify their roster ahead of the draft next month.
The unrestricted free agent market will feature several quality to elite players at several of their top positions of need, as well as some that are under the radar but vital nonetheless. In the second article of a this six-part series, I’ll be breaking down free agent candidates that the Ravens can explore at edge rusher.
Von Miller, Los Angeles Rams
The Ravens played the future Hall of Famer twice in 2021 with two different teams. Their patchwork offensive line managed to limit him to just half a sack in Week 4 when he was still a member of the Denver Broncos in a 23-7 win. However, when he came to Baltimore in Week 17 after being traded to the Los Angeles Rams at the midseason deadline, it was Miller who sealed the come-from-behind win for his new team with the second of his two sacks in a 19-20 defeat for the Ravens.
Miller finished the regular season with 9.5 sacks between his two teams and channeled his Super Bowl MVP form during the Rams title run with four more sacks in the playoffs including a pair against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl 56. He will be one of the most sought after free agents on the market. While he has expressed interest in returning to the team that drafted him, the Ravens should strongly consider making a run at him anyway because he is just the kind of scale tipping and clutch playmaking veteran that could help them win a championship.
Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals
Like Miller, the 10-year veteran is a future Hall of Famer and has been one of the most consistently dominant and productive pass rushers in the league. Jones has registered double-digit sacks in six of the last seven seasons with the only exception being the 2020 season in which he was limited to just five games due to injury.
At 32-years-old and still with plenty left in the tank, he will be hitting the open market for the first time in his career since he was traded to and retained by the Cardinals. Jones recorded 10.5 sacks, 26 quarterback hits, and forced six fumbles in 15 games in 2021. His services won’t come cheap but maybe he won’t want to break the bank if it means he’ll have an opportunity to make a strong push to win the second Super Bowl of his career.
Emmanuel Ogbah, Miami Dolphins
While he has yet to record double-digit sacks in a single season, the six-year veteran is an ascending player who has recorded 18 sacks, four forced fumbles, and 45 quarterback hits in the past two seasons. At 28-years-old, he is still relatively young and his ability to be consistently disruptive on the edge will earn him a new deal around or even above market rate given the premium placed on potent pass rushers.
Haason Reddick, Carolina Panthers
The fifth-year pro proved that his breakout 2020 season in his last year with the Cardinals wasn’t a fluke. In 2021 with the Panthers, he followed up a 12.5 sack season by reaching double-digit figures for a second straight year. His 11 sacks led the team and were two more than his teammate Brian Burns who earned a Pro Bowl bid. The two recorded the same amount of forced fumbles (two) and quarterback hits (18) and Reddick even logged 18 more tackles with 68, which was the fourth most on the team.
At 27-years-old, he is still young and possesses the athleticism to play SAM outside linebacker in the Ravens hybrid 3-4 scheme. Reddick won’t be cheap after proving that he has begun to realize the potential that made him a top 15 pick coming out of Temple in 2017. With veteran Tyus Bowser having suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the 2021 season finale, the Ravens could use another proven player at his position.
Haason Reddick sacks Matt Ryan pic.twitter.com/vHHJaGP79k— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 31, 2021
Melvin Ingram, Kansas City Chiefs
The former three-time Pro Bowler only recorded a pair of sacks between two teams in 2021 but he became a consistently disruptive presence on the edge for the Chiefs down the stretch and in the playoffs. He forced a fumble that was returned for a game-sealing touchdown in Week 18 and matched his regular-season sack total in three playoff games.
Given his lack of gaudy sack numbers over the past two seasons, Ingram could be had at a much lower price tag than the other players on this list. Reminiscent of Ravens’ franchise legend Terrell Suggs, he possesses sneaky athleticism and a high football IQ to make plays in both running game and passing game.
Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys
The seven-year veteran was well on his way to earning his first career Pro Bowl or possibly even All-Pro bid with five sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in his first seven games. An injury forced him to miss four games in the middle of the season and hampered him down the stretch, but the talent is clearly evident and he’d make a great situational pass rusher in sub-packages that regularly rotates at RUSH outside linebacker. He wouldn’t be worth overpaying as some pass rushers usually are, but Gregory’s checkered past that appears to be behind him now could still drive his asking price down enough to take a flier on.
Jadeveon Clowney, Cleveland Browns
Even though the former No. 1 overall draft pick has yet to record a double-digit sack season, he just missed out on the threshold for the fourth time in his career with nine in 14 games. Clowney resembled his three-time Pro Bowl form for the first time since he was traded away by the Houston Texans.
The Ravens have been linked to the eight-year veteran ever since he went on the trade block and every time he reaches free agency. This still might not be the year but his positional versatility to line up inside at five-technique/defensive end could make him an intriguing option to kick the tires on if Calais Campbell doesn’t return for his 15th season.
Justin Houston, Baltimore Ravens
Re-signing the 11-year veteran who they inked on a very team-friendly deal at the onset of training camp last year should be one of the Ravens’ top priorities when the new league begins. Houston is past his prime but proved that he can still be consistently disruptive as a pass rusher and defended the run better than expected last season, even if his stats didn’t reflect it.
He finished with 4.5 sacks which were the third-most on the team but his 17 quarterback hits led the pack. At 33-years-old and two years removed from his last double-digit sack season, Houston won’t command top dollar on the open market so he could be a prime candidate to be brought back in the second wave of free agency.