How much optimism should the Ravens feel based on their near-miss against the Bengals?
On a scale of one to 10, call it a six. The Ravens’ wild-card loss in Cincinnati confirmed what we knew all season: they could compete with anyone for 60 minutes. It also confirmed that even with a decent offensive performance, they would struggle to score enough points to knock off the league’s best. But the Ravens will spend the offseason knowing they came as close as anyone to shutting down one of the NFL’s hottest teams.
Aside from Jackson’s extension, what’s the Ravens’ most pressing piece of business this offseason?
They need a wide receiver. Again. But DeCosta also needs to find a young starter at cornerback, where the Ravens have yet to develop an obvious successor to Marcus Peters. They could bring the 30-yard-old Peters back as a short-term solution if he’s willing to agree to a modest deal. But they have to assume Peters’ days as an elite turnover creator are behind him and look to draft Humphrey’s next partner. The Ravens are not devoid of young talent at the position. Brandon Stephens made some important plays late in the season with his rugged style. Jalyn Armour-Davis is a smart guy with Alabama pedigree and standout physical tools. Damarion “Pepe” Williams could earn snaps as a slot corner. But none of them seized the opportunity presented by Peters’ injuries. DeCosta could find a starter with the 22nd pick in the first round, and that should be his goal.
2023 offseason needs for all 32 NFL teams - Sam Monson
BALTIMORE RAVENS: WIDE RECEIVER
An injury limited former first-rounder Rashod Bateman to just six games and 28 targets in 2022, meaning that Demarcus Robinson led the team’s wideouts in targets (78), catches (50) and yards (507). Baltimore desperately needs to upgrade at the position, even if tight end Mark Andrews is the team’s true No. 1 receiver.
2023 NFL free agency: Biggest re-signing decisions for all 32 teams - Jamison Hensley
Ravens officials remain optimistic that after the season they can reach a new deal with Jackson, but it probably won’t happen unless the star quarterback budges off his desire for a fully guaranteed contract. The most likely outcome is the Ravens placing the franchise tag on Jackson by March 7 to keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent. Jackson would become only the third QB over the past decade to get the tag. Then the questions become: When does Jackson report to the team under the tag? And will the Ravens listen to trade offers for Jackson?
Hurts averaged 4.7 yards per dropback with a 37-percent success rate against the Niners, both near season lows, per TruMedia. He was inaccurate on 16.0 percent of his throws, his third-worst mark of the season. And this happened while playing behind an offensive line that allowed pressure on only 25.9 percent of his dropbacks. None of that mattered in the end. The Eagles put up 31 points without breaking a sweat thanks to a defense that overwhelmed a hamstrung Niners offense, and a historically dominant run game that shows up every week.
Hurts didn’t just slap his name on the group project and get an A. He did his part and earned his trip to the Super Bowl. And it’s not like Hurts is the first quarterback to be surrounded by talent. The Eagles weren’t the outliers this past weekend. The Bengals have provided Joe Burrow with a deep group of playmakers and a formidable defense that has kept him in every playoff game he’s ever been part of. The 49ers were deep enough to turn Mr. Irrelevant into a Rookie of the Year candidate in only half a season. This NFL season has been defined by strong supporting casts, as we’ve seen superstar quarterbacks around the league buckle under the weight of poorly constructed rosters: Josh Allen’s hero routine wasn’t nearly enough for Buffalo; Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson rarely got to play with their full complement of weapons; even Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady couldn’t elevate their teams to a winning record.
NFL trends that will carry into 2023 season: Invest heavily in the offensive line, be aggressive, and more - Chris Trapasso
The Bengals and Chiefs finished third and fourth, respectively, in first-down pass rate during the regular season. Eight of the 14 playoff teams were in the top 10 in first-down pass rate and first-down pass rate in one-score game scenarios. If the NFL is a copycat league, other teams need to mimic what the best teams are doing, and one of those things is passing it more frequently than they run it on first down, even if the game is close.
And YAC is here to stay for a while. The Chiefs finished with the most total YAC during the regular season. The 49ers had the best YAC-per-reception average. The Chiefs were second in that category, while the Eagles were fifth and Bengals were 11th despite Ja’Marr Chase missing four contests.
Be aggressive ... be, be aggressive
I’m talking aggression with building the roster. This really could be an extension of what the Rams did before their Super Bowl-winning season a year ago.
Think of the exemplification of this idea Roseman demonstrated last offseason. He traded a first-round pick for A.J. Brown during Day 1 of the draft. If that wasn’t enough — and normally would be viewed as enough — he scooped up James Bradberry nine days after he was released by the Giantsin May. Then, to really hammer home his aggressive style — Roseman traded a fifth and sixth in the 2024 draft for pesky safety/slot corner Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and a 2025 seventh in August.