It appears the Ravens are disinterested in signing a free agent at center to fill the void left by Bradley Bozeman. When fielding questions during a press conference at the owner’s meetings on Monday, Head Coach John Harbaugh said it’s ‘unlikely’ they will sign a free agent and that he’s ‘happy with the internal options’ for the position.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he’s happy with teams internal options at center. Said Patrick Mekari will likely start at center. Said signing a FA center is unlikely. pic.twitter.com/IwhIxmPhmn— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) March 28, 2022
Mekari is the most experienced player at the position already on the roster with 16 career starts at center, including the postseason. He is their most versatile offensive lineman and has started multiple games at right tackle and guard during his first three years in the league. The Ravens extended the former undrafted free agent gem before the 2021 season concluded which some speculated that it signaled and prepared them for the eventual departure of Bozeman in the ensuing offseason.
Patrick Mekari started 7 games at C in 2020. Across 209 pass block opportunities in those 7 games, he allowed 4 pressures (1 sack).— Cole Jackson (@ColeJacksonFB) March 28, 2022
I would've went after JC Tretter, but if the priority is protecting Lamar Jackson, you can't say Mekari is a bad option. His issue is run blocking.
The Ravens don’t just hand out starting jobs but the fact that Harbaugh named Mekari as the early favorite open the 2022 season as the starter shows the confidence the coaching staff and front office has in him. The only other in-house option that could challenge Mekari for the starting spot is Trystan Colon. He originally signed with the team as an undrafted free agent out of Missouri in 2020, has appeared in 14 games, and made three starts in his first two years in the league.
While Harbaugh expressed the unlikelihood of the team adding a veteran free agent option at the position, he didn’t rule out the 2022 NFL Draft class which offers some intriguing options. They’ve been a popular landing spot for consensus top center prospect Tyler Linderbaum in many mock drafts. Several prospects are projected to go in the middle rounds where they have a wealth of picks that they could target to add more competition. Tennessee-Chattanooga’s Cole Strange, Nebraska’s Cam Jurgens, and Kentucky’s Luke Fortner are some to name a few.