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Ravens News 3/23: No Man’s Land and more

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NCAA Football: Baylor at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens and QB Lamar Jackson could be in for a long offseason as free agent money dries up - Mike Preston

Because of the tag designation, there is no rush for Jackson to get a deal done soon. In fact, if he doesn’t find another interested team and he and the Ravens don’t find common ground, he’ll probably hold out of offseason training activities, minicamp and training camp. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken tried to downplay the importance of Jackson missing practices, but he isn’t fooling anyone.

Repetition is the key to learning, especially in football. If practices weren’t so important, then why are minicamps mandatory? If practices weren’t so important, why are new NFL head coaches allowed to start training camp sooner than other teams?

Patience is being urged. Right now, no one knows when, where or how this is going to end. The Ravens could trade Jackson on the first day of the draft if the price is right. All we can do is wait.

And wait some more.

Offseason of discontent for Ravens, Jackson continues with no end in sight - Luke Jones

Even more difficult is its impact on Baltimore’s offseason as the Ravens remain the only NFL team not to have added an outside player via free agency or trade since the start of the new league year. It appears that general manager Eric DeCosta is maintaining as much salary cap flexibility as possible to match a potential offer sheet, but that’s not helping improve the rest of the 2023 roster in the meantime, leaving the Ravens in no man’s land. At the same time, what wide receiver or notable veteran chasing a Super Bowl is eagerly signing up — at least at a team-friendly price — without knowing if Jackson is even going to be here?

Yes, the Ravens seem stuck for the time being, and that’s a sobering thought, especially with the July 17 deadline for a long-term contract still nearly fourth months away and there being no guarantee of a resolution even by then. If you think things are frustrating now, imagine going through this all over again next year.

What is clear is no one should be making any strong assumptions about how this is all going to play out. With each passing day, the smart money remains on Jackson staying put for at least 2023, but how confident can anyone really be after more than two years of a negotiation that was supposed to be a non-story still being one today?

Unfortunately, this offseason of discontent has no end in sight for the Ravens or Jackson.

NFL Power Rankings: Jets, Dolphins climb after free agency frenzy; Vikings, Packers slip - Dan Hanzus

Rank 13

Baltimore Ravens

The non-exclusive tag applied to quarterback Lamar Jackson has forced the entire organization into a wait-and-see approach at the onset of the new league year. This is not optimal, as playmakers who would help this stale offense are acquired by other teams on a near-daily basis. To say Jackson’s apparent market has been chilly so far would be an understatement, and it could lead the former MVP back to Baltimore for another year. If both sides decide a divorce is necessary at this point, well, it’s time to really get to work and make something happen.

Landing spots for the NFL’s top trade candidates - Sam Monson


Possible Landing Spots: New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions

Rumors have been swirling all offseason that basically the entire Denver receiving corps is on the trading block for the right offer as Sean Payton looks to change tack and craft an offense that Russell Wilson can succeed within. Sutton has looked like the most obvious odd man out from the beginning. Last season, he averaged just 1.55 yards per route run and registered six drops. At 6-foot-4 and over 210 pounds, Sutton has the skill set to be a true X-receiver, something that this free agency class and draft are light on. There are teams that have yet to find that player, or actively lost one, that could be interested.

2023 Ravens Draft Watch: Will McDonald IV - Joe Serpico

Will McDonald IV

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 239 pounds

NFL Player Comparison: Vic Beasley

Draft Projection: Late Day 1 — Day 2

In terms of production, there might not be a better pass rusher in the class. McDonald would be the most accomplished edge player on the roster. It’s well documented that Oweh failed to produce big numbers in college. Ojabo got the majority of his sacks in one year and was opposite another dominant rusher in Aidan Hutchinson.

McDonald would give Baltimore a player it can plug and play to rush the passer. He’ll need some time to build his frame to handle the run, but he would give the pass rush a boost as he develops his overall game.

The Ravens have to hope they can find help in the draft to keep the defense among the top five in sacks in the league. McDonald’s addition to Macdonald’s defense would give the Ravens a more natural pass rusher to complement the other edge rushers on the roster.

NFL Draft 2023: Comparing consensus top prospects in this year’s class to former infamous draft busts - Chris Trapasso

RB Bijan Robinson (Texas)

Bust comparison: Trent Richardson

Pick and year: No. 3 overall, 2012 draft (Browns)

College: Alabama

Richardson was the man in college. Flat-out, unequivocally, the man. After consecutive seasons reaching the 700-yard mark at Alabama in the early-ish Nick Saban years, Richardson erupted in 2011 with nearly 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns at close to 5.9 yards per attempt. He was compact, seemingly sculpted from stone, elusive, powerful, and decently fast. In a class that saw Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III go No. 1 and No. 2 overall, Richardson was universally lauded as a glorious pick by the Browns at No. 3 overall.

After a strong rookie campaign, Richardson’s lack of between-the-tackles vision reared its ugly head. Injuries didn’t help the developmental process either. Soon he was traded to the Colts and once he ventured into the bust woods, he never returned.

Robinson feels a lot safer than Richardson, right? RIGHT?! No, he is. But there are striking similarities between their frames, their collegiate careers and the adoration of them by the overwhelming majority of draft analysts.