Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti put his name on a sentiment that many league executives reportedly feel as it relates to Deshaun Watson’s record-setting contract with the Browns. Bisciotti, speaking from the annual league meeting on Tuesday, was openly critical of the Browns’ decision to give Watson a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract.
“It’s like, ‘damn, I wish they hadn’t guaranteed the whole contract,’” Bisciotti said, via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. “I don’t know that he should’ve been the first guy to get a fully guaranteed contract.
“To me, that’s something that is groundbreaking, and it’ll make negotiations harder with others. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to play that game, you know? We shall see.”
“We’ll pay him when he’s ready,” Bisciotti said of Jackson, who last season was selected to his second Pro Bowl despite missing the season’s final five games with an ankle injury. “Without a QB you believe in, life (stinks) as an NFL owner and as a fan base. ... We appreciate (Lamar). All I know is that his teammates love him and the front office loves him.”
No Need for Ravens to “Panic” or “Rush” - John Eisenberg
Not that they’ve been idle or cheap. They’ve spent $70 million on a playmaking free safety, Marcus Williams. They’ve solidified the right side of their offensive line with a 335-pound tackle, Morgan Moses. They’ve fortified their D-line with Michael Pierce and retained fullback Patrick Ricard, a key offensive piece.
Remember what now-General Manager Eric DeCosta said when, as an assistant, he was asked to identify the biggest lesson he’d gleaned from his mentor and predecessor, Ozzie Newsome?
“Patience, probably,” DeCosta said in 2017. “Just don’t panic. Take your time and consider everything, and don’t rush the process. Don’t create something. Let it come to you.”
In his 23 years in charge, Newsome seldom made moves that stunned fans. He slowly built the roster using each of the many tools available — free agency, the draft, cap cuts, trades, undrafted rookie free agency.
It worked well. The Ravens won two Super Bowls and made 11 playoff appearances in his 23 years, quite a record considering the state of the roster when the team arrived from Cleveland in 1996.
Breaking Down every Team’s Needs Entering the NFL Draft - Danny Heifetz
Edge rusher, Defensive tackle
Baltimore’s defense managed just two sacks per game last season, tied for the fourth-worst mark in team history. Meanwhile, the offense allowed 57 sacks, the most in team history. Baltimore signed right tackle Morgan Moses in free agency to help on offense, so now it’s time to look at the defense. The Ravens have not drafted a defensive lineman in the first round since Haloti Ngata in 2006, but considering the team has five edge rushers or defensive linemen who remain free agents—and Za’Darius Smith ultimately chose to go to Minnesota instead of returning to Baltimore—the draft could be the perfect way to replenish the group.
For the first time, the Ravens are coming off a last-place finish under Harbaugh after losing their last six games to finish 8-9. While much of the Ravens’ struggles can be chalked up to quarterback Lamar Jackson’s injuries and other banged-up starters, Harbaugh believes Baltimore has to play some catch-up in a much-improved AFC North. The defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals have bulked up the weakest part of their team by signing key offensive linemen, and the Cleveland Browns have traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Amari Cooper.
“Hey, where we’re sitting right now, we’re the ones that have the most work to do. That’s how we look at it,” Harbaugh said Monday. “We have a long way to go. We’ve got to get ourselves back in contention and become a team that is vying for the AFC North championship and beyond. Great quarterbacks, great players … but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
“I want everybody. The fans want everybody too, but you can’t have everybody,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a salary cap limitation to it. We try to get as many great players on our team as we can, within the cap rules. Try to be responsible and think down the road as well, not spend our future generations’ money as much as possible. We won’t be able to sign everybody we want. If we sign one or two more guys, that’s going to forego other guys from coming, and that’s going to be an either-or type of situation.”
Ranking the strongest position groups in the 2022 NFL Draft - Michael Renner
Not only are there 14 edge rushers in the PFF top 100, but there are also three in the top 10. This class has high-end talent, including the presumptive No. 1 pick Aidan Hutchinson, as well as depth into Day 2.
The top four edges in this year’s class — Hutchinson (No. 1 on PFF’s big board), Kayvon Thibodeaux (No. 4), George Karlaftis (No. 10) and Travon Walker (No. 14) — would have all been EDGE1 in the 2021 class.
This marks the third straight impressive tackle class. The 2022 class is far more like the 2020 version than the one we saw a year ago. By that, I mean it’s top-heavy — you still want one of the top five tackles in this class and don’t want to be the team that reaches for the sixth (think Austin Jackson).
You won’t find the kind of depth in Round 2 that saw six tackles come off the board from picks 39-53 a year ago, but you will find high-end starter potential at the top of the draft.