The initial wave of free agency has passed and a lot has transpired in Baltimore. The Ravens agreed to early deals with outside free agents Marcus Williams, Morgan Moses and Michael Pierce before re-signing Patrick Ricard to a three-year contract yesterday.
A trio of Ravens’ incumbent free agents recently signed elsewhere: center Bradley Bozeman to the Carolina Panthers, cornerback Anthony Averett to the Las Vegas Raiders and Chris Board to the Detroit Lions. Losing Bozeman and Averett reinforce the offensive line and cornerback spots as areas of need for the Ravens.
General Manager Eric DeCosta recently said that the team “wasn’t done” making moves in free agency and would continue to seek talent after making an early splash. This is good news, because there’s still plenty of quality players available on the market. Somebody who fits this description is 31-year-old center J.C. Tretter.
Tretter was released by the Cleveland Browns last week as part of the Browns’ effort to clear cap space. The veteran offensive lineman started 16 games in five consecutive seasons for Cleveland and missed only one game since 2016. That one game came last year but was not because of injury, but rather he was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list.
As soon as he hit the open market, speculation emerged that Tretter could make sense as a free agent target for the Ravens. Some outlets see this as a good fit, including Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox. Knox prescribed one move every NFL team should make in free agency right now and for the Ravens, it was signing Tretter.
“The Baltimore Ravens lost starting center Bradley Bozeman to the Carolina Panthers in free agency. That leaves a big opening along the offensive line, and it’s one Baltimore should look to fill with a former division rival,” Knox wrote. “The 31-year-old isn’t a player Baltimore can build around for the next decade, but he’s a plug-and-play guy who can lock down center for the next three-to-five years with no concern.”
This would not be out of the ordinary for the Ravens. Last offseason, they signed another veteran offensive lineman — one that used to play for the Browns also — in Kevin Zeitler to a three-year contract. Tretter fits a similar profile. The Ravens also just signed 31-year-old Morgan Moses to a three-year deal, again showing their chops for adding veteran offensive lineman in free agency.
As Knox noted, the departure of Bozeman complicates the center position situation for the Ravens. They have some potential in-house options to replace Bozeman, including Patrick Mekari — who the team signed to a three-year contract extension in January. The Ravens could also look to draft a center in the early rounds next month.
However, if they want to avoid any potential drop-off in play at the position, even if marginal, signing Tretter would be a good move. In over 1,000 offensive snaps in 2021, Tretter was tagged with just five penalties and one allowed sack, earning him an impressive PFF grade of 78.7. Like Knox said, he would instantly be a plug-and-play guy and leave the Ravens without any question marks at center.
Letting Bozeman, who ultimately signed a one-year contract worth roughly $2.8 million, could be a sign the Ravens aren’t interested in investing more capital at the position. They might feel comfortable with Mekari and Tristian Colon as potential starters and want to explore their options in the draft.
Or, it could just mean that Bozeman and the Ravens simply wanted to part ways, and that Baltimore would have no problem signing a free agent replacement. If this is the case, Tretter is the best remaining center available and checks off a lot of boxes for the Ravens.
Adding him into the mix would eliminate the position as a need heading into April’s draft and give them the flexibility to use Mekari as a backup at both center and tackle. More importantly, Tretter is a good player who would provide some much-needed consistency and steadiness to the Ravens’ offensive line.
Should the Ravens sign J.C. Tretter?
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