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Ravens News 1/20: Cap Casualties and more

Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Greg Roman out after four seasons as Ravens’ offensive coordinator - Childs Walker

The Ravens enjoyed the greatest offensive season in franchise history in 2019 but also suffered some of their most frustrating defeats with Roman calling the plays. He helped unleash quarterback Lamar Jackson as one of the sport’s most exciting offensive centerpieces, but critics wondered if he ultimately held Jackson back with unimaginative passing designs.

As Ravens coach John Harbaugh prepares to hire the seventh offensive coordinator of his 15-year tenure, he said, “this is going to be a highly sought-after job. This is one of the top football-coaching jobs in the world. Everybody’s going to want this job.”

The 2022 season was a rocky cap to Roman’s rocky tenure. The Ravens started hot and dominated opponents on the ground to secure a playoff spot. But their passing game, short on talent to begin with, lost steam as the year went on. They sputtered repeatedly in the red zone and did not score more than one touchdown in any of their last six regular-season games.

With Greg Roman’s departure, here are 7 potential Ravens offensive coordinator candidates - Jonas Shaffer

Brian Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach

In his 13 years as a play-caller and position coach, Johnson has helped develop two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks: the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts and Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott. Hurts emerged as a league Most Valuable Player front-runner in his second year working with Johnson, while Prescott, a three-star recruit in high school, earned All-Southeastern Conference honors at Mississippi State in his final two years with him.

Johnson also has experience as a coordinator; the 2020 Florida spread offense he coordinated finished fourth nationally in efficiency, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.

Bobby Slowik, San Francisco 49ers passing game coordinator

Slowik could be the next big name to come out of the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. Shanahan doesn’t have an offensive coordinator this season, so he relies on two two quasi-coordinators: Slowik for the passing game, and Chris Foerster for the running game.

Despite cycling through three quarterbacks, including seventh-round pick Brock Purdy over the second half of the season, the 49ers finished the year ranked third in the NFL in passing efficiency, according to Football Outsiders.

Their passing offense, built around Shanahan’s wide-zone scheme and bolstered by maybe the NFL’s most talented group of skill players, helps put playmakers in space after the catch. Jimmy Garoppolo ranks first in the NFL in yards after the catch per completion (7.0), according to Pro Football Reference, while Purdy would rank third (6.2).

Lamar Jackson’s future central theme at Ravens’ end-of-season press conference - Danny Favret

“I truly believe Lamar wants to finish his career in Baltimore,” DeCosta said. “I just believe that in my conversations with him and just watching him, talking with him and communicating. I think John feels that way too. So, all of those things kind of work together for me that tell me we still have a chance and that I should be as optimistic as possible.”

“ Lamar Jackson is our quarterback; he’s been our quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “Everything we’ve done in terms of building our offense and building our team, how we think in terms of people and putting people around him is based on this incredible young man, his talent, his ability and his competitiveness.”

Harbaugh added that Lamar Jackson will be involved in the team’s search for a new offensive coordinator.

10 Biggest Offseason Questions for Ravens - Ryan Mink

How do the Ravens clear salary-cap space?

The Ravens are projected to have just more than $40 million in salary-cap space, per Spotrac, but much (or all) of that could disappear if Jackson signs a franchise tag tender. That means they may need to part ways with some respected veterans or work out lowered salary-cap hits.

Chuck Clark is a highly respected member of the Ravens secondary and was once again a key piece of Baltimore’s secondary. However, with a salary-cap hit of about $6.3 million next year, the veteran safety said he enters this offseason uncertain about his future in Baltimore.

Clark held off first-round pick Kyle Hamilton for the starting safety job next to Marcus Williams, but the rookie came on strong and finished with a stellar playoff game in Cincinnati. Hamilton proved he’s going to have a major role in this defense for a long time. The question is at what position. He flourished once the Ravens put him in more of a slot cornerback role. Is that valuable enough and such a good fit that he stays, or does he move into the more traditional safety spot manned by Clark?

Running back Gus Edwards is slated for a salary-cap hit of $5.6 million, per Do the Ravens make Dobbins their clear No. 1 back moving forward?

Defensive tackle Calais Campbell has a projected salary-cap hit of $9.4 million in 2023 and is mulling retirement again. Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington took steps forward this season, and rookie defensive tackle Travis Jones got a lot of valuable experience and flashed his potential. Are they ready to take over the defensive line?

Sizing up the Ravens’ 2023 class of free agents - Luke Jones

RB Justice Hill Though the 2019 fourth-round pick averaged a career-high 5.3 yards per carry returning from last year’s Achilles injury, his touches remained limited and you wonder if he’ll aim for a fresh start elsewhere.

OLB Justin HoustonHouston turns 34 later this week and has expressed interest in returning to the Ravens, but his production slowed considerably after registering nine sacks over his first seven games of the season.

CB Marcus PetersOzzie Newsome often said he’d rather part with a veteran a year early rather than a year too late, which could be the way the Ravens approach the 30-year-old Peters unless he’s open to a team-friendly deal.

OLB Jason Pierre-PaulPierre-Paul, 34, still sets a good edge against the run, but the two-time Super Bowl champion’s pass-rushing contributions were pretty minimal over 14 games.

G Ben PowersOne of the better stories of 2022, Powers should do well for himself on the open market as an established starter, but he figures to be out of Baltimore’s price range with other roster needs and limited cap dollars.

WR Demarcus RobinsonRelative to expectations as a late-August signing, Robinson had a decent campaign, but it was an incredibly low bar at a position that needs significant improvement this offseason.