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Ravens News 3/21: Apparent Urgency and more

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens’ Urgency Is Apparent in Free Agency - John Eisenberg

Seldom are they so willing to take swings when costs are higher at the outset of free agency. But seldom do they have such urgency after a disappointing season. General Manager Eric DeCosta recently said they were “probably a little embarrassed” not to make the playoffs. This is the response.

No doubt, Williams’ age was a huge factor in convincing the Ravens to pursue him and give him a big deal. Seldom does a high-caliber player so young hit the market. Eric Weddle was 31 for his first game in Baltimore. Earl Thomas was 30. Williams turns 26 in September.

Moses wasn’t signed to compete for a starting job. He IS the starting right tackle. His signing solidifies that side of the O-line, with Kevin Zeitler entrenched at right guard. It remains to be seen who’ll occupy the other three starting spots, but the dose of clarity is welcomed.

Ravens Offensive Line Coming Into Focus - Todd Karpovich

The addition of Morgan Moses will help solidify the right side of the line. Moses will start at right tackle next to Kevin Zeitler at guard.

Moses should help the Ravens maintain a balance of running and throwing the football.

“When you look at it, the game-planning and things like that, the league is … You look at the AFC, especially the AFC West – all the quarterbacks there – at some point, you’re going to have to pass the ball,” Moses said. “It’s good to have a balance of offensive linemen that can pass block, run block and do all of those things. It’s not just that I’m pass-heavy. I’m pass-heavy, pass blocking. At the same time, you realize that the game is changing as well, and you have to have players out there that are able to adapt to that.

“So, I think what I’ve done over the course of my career showing that, I think getting in here, getting around the guys, learning the playbook and just running around, hopefully the leadership qualities that I bring with myself, help the team thrive. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Center Bradley Bozeman leaves Ravens to join Carolina on one-year deal - Luke Jones

Though a robust market for his services didn’t materialize after Bozeman and the Ravens never got close to a contract extension in recent months, the 27-year-old will now join the Panthers and try to cash in next offseason. Meanwhile, the Ravens will have their sixth different Week 1 starting center since Matt Birk’s retirement following Super Bowl XLVII, a lack of continuity that’s hindered their offense at various points over the last decade.

The Ravens improved their right tackle picture earlier this week by signing veteran Morgan Moses to a three-year, $15 million contract, but the uncertainty surrounding the health of left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s ankle still leaves a dark cloud over an offensive line that must now replace a reliable starter from the last three seasons.

2022 NFL Free Agency LIVE Deal Grader: Grading and tracking every free agent signing - PFF

DI Michael Pierce: Three years, $16.5 million ($6.75 million guaranteed)

Pierce signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent in the 2020 offseason but opted out for the season. Then an injury kept him out from Weeks 5-12 of 2021, leading to his release. Pierce has been a very productive nose tackle when on the field, earning an 84.5 pass-rushing grade in 2021 with 16 quarterback pressures on just 123 pass-rush reps.

He isn’t an every-down player but is a force on the interior, never missing more than three tackles in a season and earning a 90.7 run-defense grade since 2016 that ranks sixth among interior defensive linemen.

Grade: Average

After Za’Darius Smith reversal, where do Ravens pivot at pass-rusher? - Jamison Hensley

Getting after the quarterback is one of Baltimore’s biggest remaining needs. The Ravens’ current top two outside linebackers — Odafe Oweh and Tyus Bowser — are coming off offseason surgeries and have a combined 22.5 career sacks.

Baltimore has watched several other AFC teams upgrade their pass rush significantly this offseason with Von Miller (Buffalo Bills), Chandler Jones(Las Vegas Raiders), Khalil Mack (Los Angeles Chargers) and Randy Gregory(Denver Broncos).

Justin Houston: In his first season with the Ravens, Houston played better than what his numbers (4.5 sacks) indicate. But saying that the Ravens got better in the pass rush by bringing back Houston, who is 33 and entering his 12th season, could be a tough sell.

Jadeveon Clowney: The journeyman is coming off a season in which he totaled nine sacks for the Cleveland Browns, his most since 2019. At this stage of his career, he’s more known for stopping the run than getting to the quarterback. The biggest issue with Clowney has always been availability (17 games missed over the last three years).

Derek Barnett: He has never surpassed seven sacks in a season and finished with a career-low two last season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Barnett has had double-digit quarterback hits in all five of his NFL seasons, but he’s been an underachiever since being the No. 14 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

Julio Jones Predictions: Could the Ravens, Browns, Patriots, or Packers be interested? - Tommy Garrett

Baltimore Ravens

When you have someone as talented under center as Lamar Jackson, giving him as many targets as possible makes sense. A trio of Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, Rashod Bateman, and Jones would be incredible. Not to mention, Mark Andrews is coming off a career-best 1,361-yard season.

Going from Sammy Watkins to Jones is about as substantial an upgrade as one could imagine. With the moves happening in the AFC North, this prediction makes plenty of sense.