The 2023 NFL season is lining up to be quite the important one for the Baltimore Ravens. Among other reasons is the number of important players entering the last year of their current contracts with the team, leading credence to the importance of winning now. With a quarterback now under the biggest contract in NFL history, tough decisions will have to be made going forward over which players are retained.
Who are the top players entering a contract season for the Ravens in 2023?
5. Justin Madubuike
The 2020 third-round defensive tackle out of Texas A&M is fresh off his best season as a pro in which he tallied 42 total tackles and 5.5 sacks — tied for second most on the team. With the departure of veteran Calais Campbell to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency and the expiring contracts of fellow 2020 draft mate Broderick Washington and veteran Brent Urban, Baltimore’s defensive line faces much uncertainty going forward.
Madubuike has flashed top-end reps both against the run and as a pass rusher but has yet to put everything together for a single dominant season. If Madubuike has that type of season in 2023, then it may be too hard for the Ravens to retain him. If that happens, a juicy compensatory pick will be awaiting in the near future.
4. J.K. Dobbins
One of the ongoing stories of the offseason for Baltimore has been the frustration of the former second-round pick out of Ohio State. Dobbins appeared poised to take the league by storm as one of the best running backs in the game after a rookie season full of highlights in 2020. Unfortunately, a devastating knee injury erased any hope of that happening in 2021 with the effects lingering into the 2022 season as well. The supremely talented back began to find his footing again towards the end of the season, however, and with another offseason removed from the injury, 2024 is shaping up to be the best of the Dobbins’ young career.
Handing out a hefty contract to a running back is frowned upon for the most part in today’s NFL and the Ravens would be unwise to do so with Jackson’s contract on the books now. However, Dobbins has the chance to prove this season that he is worth the consideration.
3. Kevin Zeitler
The most reliable member of Baltimore’s offensive line for the past two seasons is now entering the final year of his deal with the team. At the age of 33, Zeitler has yet to show any signs of losing his status as one of the best guards in the NFL and has recently stated that he does not plan to retire anytime soon. If Zeitler continues to play at a high level this season, the Ravens would be wise to reach an extension and keep the right guard in Baltimore for as long as his play demands it.
2. Patrick Queen
The Ravens have found themselves in quite an interesting predicament at the inside linebacker position. After a bumpy start to the former first-rounder's career, Queen’s game soared to new heights during the 2022 season. Despite this, the organization declined to pick up Queen’s fifth-year option this offseason, meaning 2024 will be the final season of his rookie contract. One major issue stands in the way of Queen receiving a long-term extension to remain in Baltimore if he has another standout season. That is the fact that the Ravens traded for and signed inside linebacker Roquan Smith to the highest contract in NFL history at the position.
It is truly unfortunate timing for Queen. However, given he follows up last season’s breakout performance with an equal or even better one in 2023, he will be a very rich man next offseason whether in Baltimore or elsewhere.
1. Odell Beckham Jr.
For once, the Ravens' biggest acquisition of the offseason was at the wide receiver position. Many were surprised by the $15 million dollar deal (worth up to $18 million with incentives) that the veteran receiver got from Baltimore of all teams this offseason — considering his time away from football in 2022 following a torn ACL injury. Beckham became a megastar in the NFL landscape after bursting onto the scene as one of the best receivers in the game as a rookie with the New York Giants in 2014.
After failing to top 1,000 receiving yards in a season since 2019 and coming off a major injury, the soon-to-be 31-year-old wideout is looking to prove he still has what it takes to be a top player in the NFL. Baltimore needs Beckham to bounce back this season to maximize Jackson’s ability as a passer in offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s offense.