2023 NFL Offseason Rankings, Part I: Breaking down which teams thrived, stumbled with their roster building
Garrett Podell, CBS Sports
18. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens’ national nightmare is over: MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson is now signed to a long-term deal (five years, $260 million), so the future at the game’s most important position is, expensively, secure in Baltimore. Sure, the price tag was higher than if they had gotten serious about negotiations a year or two ago, but it’s all water under the bridge now.
The front office also put to bed the narrative that they haven’t surrounded Jackson with adequate pass-catching talent this offseason with the signing of three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year, fully guaranteed $15 million contract as well as with the first-round draft selection of Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers, one of the 2023 draft’s most precise route runners. Jackson shouted out those two teammates Flowers and Beckham in addition to former first-round receiver Rashod Bateman, plus tight ends Isaiah Likely and Mark Andrews, his top target since coming to Baltimore, in his new contract presser. Those five and new offensive coordinator Todd Monken give Jackson a chance to produce as a passer like he never has before.
There’s still work to be done defensively. Current free agent pass-rusher Justin Houston was the only Raven to record six or more sacks last season (9.5), but he’s 34 years old now. Currently, it appears as if Baltimore is banking on the development of 2021 first-round pick outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (24 years old) and 2022 second-round pick outside linebacker David Ojabo (23 years old). The Ravens would benefit from bringing Houston or Yannick Ngakoue, another former Raven, into the flock right before training camp.
Jamison Hensley, ESPN
Better, worse or the same? Worse.
The loss of Campbell is a big one in terms of leadership. Washington, one of the team’s more underrated players, gets the chance to step up to fill the void in the starting lineup. It’s unknown how much Baltimore can count on Pierce, who hasn’t played more than eight games in a season since 2019. Blackson joins the rotation after receiving a strong endorsement from Smith, who played with Blackson for two seasons in Chicago.
Losses: Marcus Peters, Kyle Fuller
Better, worse or the same? Same.
It feels like a negligible difference with the Ravens signing Ya-Sin to replace Peters, who never seemed like his old ball-hawking self last year. The only other notable additions were Mullen, a former-second-round pick of the Raiders and cousin of quarterback Lamar Jackson, and Kelly, a rookie fifth-round selection. This group could still use another experienced cover guy.
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
Bryce Callahan, CB: It wasn’t long ago when Callahan was considered one of the better slot cornerbacks in football. He’s 31 now and has had some injury-marred seasons. Yet, last year for the Los Angeles Chargers, Callahan had 47 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions in 15 games. If the Ravens are looking to add a veteran corner, and they should be, they could do a lot worse than Callahan. He’d allow Marlon Humphrey to remain outside and give Baltimore some insurance if its young corners, such as Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion Williams and Kyu Blu Kelly, aren’t ready to be relied on for significant snaps.
Kyle Fuller, CB: Fuller tore up his knee in Week 1 against the New York Jets, ending his first — and perhaps only — season with his hometown team. Ravens officials have monitored Fuller’s recovery, and he spent some time around the team even after his injury last year. Fuller is 31 and this is his second major knee injury. There’s obviously no guarantee that he returns as an effective corner. However, it wouldn’t cost the Ravens very much to find out. Fuller’s ability to play both in the slot and outside, and his experience, could make him a nice addition to the cornerback room.
C.J. Doon, The Baltimore Sun
Cornerback Marcus Peters
Whether it’s Peters being patient or a lack of interest in a 30-year-old cornerback two years removed from season-ending knee surgery, there hasn’t been much of a market for the former Ravens starter. That could lead to a return to Baltimore, where Peters has been up and down in two healthy seasons. Given the uncertainty at the position across from three-time Pro Bowl selection Marlon Humphrey, a one-year deal for Peters could provide valuable insurance.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft has been on four teams in the past five seasons, and his time in Cleveland did not end well. Still, the 30-year-old veteran has been productive in spurts, including nine sacks and 32 quarterback pressures in 2021, and has always provided stout run defense. He could be a worthy flier for a team that’s relied on relatively cheap veterans such as Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul and Pernell McPhee for snaps in recent seasons.
Trevor Sikkema, PFF
5. JOHN HARBAUGH, BALTIMORE RAVENS
I can’t keep Harbaugh out of the top five. Some may look at his lack of postseason success since winning the Super Bowl in 2014 and argue to push him down further. It’s true, his team is 2-5 in the playoffs since then. But the Ravens have made the playoff in four of the past five seasons.
In a modern NFL world that says can’t run the ball anymore, the Ravens are No. 1 in the league since 2018, staying creative and innovative as they play to their strengths, earning 0.092 expected points added per rush over the span. In second place is the Green Bay Packers at 0.051, which shows the Ravens aren’t just better than everyone else on the ground; they’re far and away better. They also rank sixth in the league in EPA per play allowed on defense at -0.059.