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Ravens News 6/29: Best Contracts and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Ten Possible First-Time NFL Pro Bowlers in 2022 - Conor Orr

Marcus Williams, S, Ravens

I think we’re all curious to see what kind of identity the Ravens’ defense will take on after the departure of Wink Martindale. What we can be certain of is the success of a targeted addition like Marcus Williams, who was one of the best safeties in the NFL a year ago. Williams fits the bill as a prototypical Ravens safety, who can manipulate offenses from multiple spots on the field. He is a more than capable run defender and last year was one of the Saints’ best individual players in terms of net yards over average. He allowed an astounding sub-50% opposing quarterback completion rate a year ago.

Five Returning Ravens Who Face a Pivotal Training Camp - Clifton Brown

DT Michael Pierce

Pierce missed mandatory minicamp for personal reasons, but Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated he expects Pierce to be ready for training camp.

“He’s healthy, he’s good; it’s just a personal matter with his family, and that’s what it is,” Harbaugh said.

Pierce is a key piece on a Baltimore defensive line that has undergone significant changes. The Ravens have to replace Brandon Williams and Justin Ellis who were in the D-line rotation last year, and Derek Wolfe was recently waived with an injury settlement after missing all of last season.

Pierce is a proven run-stopper on a defense that prides itself on being tough to run against. However, Pierce has only played eight total games the past two seasons. The Ravens would love to see a strong training camp from him that sets the foundation for the season.

Every AFC team’s best contract: Darren Waller, Trey Hendrickson and more - Brad Spielberger


There are a half-dozen candidates for this selection, as the Ravens have been particularly sharp with both extending their own players early on and taking advantage of other teams’ cap casualties. Baltimore earned three spots on our top 32 contract rankings and an honorable mention for guard Kevin Zeitler.

Tyus Bowser is a Swiss Army knife for the Ravens’ defense, having played more than 200 snaps in run defense, as a pass rusher and in coverage in 2021. Bowser set career highs with 40 quarterback pressures and seven sacks last season, earning his third-straight season grade of 70.0-plus with a big bump in snaps played.

Bowser tested off the charts at the 2017 NFL scouting combine, particularly demonstrating his explosiveness with 90th percentile broad jump and vertical scores, but was a bit raw coming out of Houston. As he rounds out his game — an extremely versatile game, at that — he could continue to build on a strong foundation and provide great value to Baltimore for the next few years.

2022 NFL linebacker unit rankings: San Francisco 49ers claim the top spot, Seattle Seahawks crack the top 10 - Seth Galina


The Ravens are still looking for that breakout year from Patrick Queen after two subpar seasons. He at least improved upon his 29.7 grade as a rookie with a 43.5 mark in Year 2. Next to him is the underrated Josh Bynes, who returned to Baltimore in 2021 after one season in Cincinnati. In 2019 and 2021 with the Ravens, he graded out to 80.0 and 74.8, respectively.

Ravens OLB Steven Means: ‘Nothing Short Of A Blessing’ To Return To Baltimore - Brandon Schwartzberg

The 31-year-old signed a one-year contract with Baltimore earlier this month. Means was invited to try out for a roster spot during mandatory minicamp and earned the one-year deal. The 6-foot-3, 263-pound outside linebacker learned a lot from the Ravens the last time around and is grateful for his return to Charm City.

“To be able to get the opportunity to talk to [head coach John Harbaugh] and get on the phone with him and communicate with him and get an opportunity to come back here and do it all over again eight years later, it’s an honor and nothing short of a blessing,” Means said. “I prayed for it and manifested it and it just came right back full circle.”

“It’s a young room and to be able to impart that on them and show them how I’ve seen [past teammates] go about their business and how it made me go about my business, just to be able to be that for them,” Means said.

Eight years later from his first stint in Baltimore, Means is surrounded by almost a completely new team. Only two players from the 2014 Baltimore squad are currently on the 2022 roster — Justin Tucker and Brent Urban.

Biggest remaining team needs in the AFC from the Ravens to the Titans - Dallas Robinson

Baltimore Ravens: Wide receiver

Solution: Sign Julio Jones

The Ravens filled most of their needs through free agency and the draft, but wide receiver remains a glaring issue. 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman will ascend to Baltimore’s No. 1 role after the club traded Marquise Brown to the Cardinals. Behind Bateman, the Ravens have a cadre of young, unproven pass catchers in Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace.

A veteran receiver makes sense for the Ravens, and Jones would give them a contested-catch threat on the outside. Julio hasn’t been able to stay healthy in recent years, missing 14 games over the past two seasons. Still, Baltimore can afford to take on that risk, given that the 33-year-old shouldn’t command a significant salary.