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Ravens News 2/13: Busy Offseason

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AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

What Lamar Jackson and the Ravens can learn from another Chiefs Super Bowl title

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

Stay out of harm’s way

That was the first interception Mahomes had thrown in his past seven playoff games, a stretch dating to the start of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run last season. Over 18 career postseason games, he has a career 1.2% interception rate; only C.J. Stroud (1%) fared better during the 2023 regular season among qualifying quarterbacks, and the Houston Texans were certainly not playing playoff-caliber defenses every game.

Turnovers, of course, have been Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s postseason bugaboo. Not just fumbles and interceptions, either, but plays that should’ve ended in a takeaway, too. In the Ravens’ loss to the Chiefs, Jackson was strip-sacked, threw a fourth-quarter interception, and was lucky to not have at least one or two other passes picked off.

Over his six postseason appearances, Playoff Lamar has been notably more turnover-prone than Regular-Season Lamar.

Playoff Mahomes, meanwhile has only improved on Regular-Season Mahomes since 2019, his first Super Bowl-winning season in Kansas City. Jackson’s kryptonite is Mahomes’ superpower.

Twelve Ravens Thoughts following Super Bowl LVIII

Luke Jones, Baltimore Positive

Steve Spagnuolo’s defense had a postseason to remember, but the 2000 Ravens giving up a total of 23 points in four playoff games — seven coming off a kick return in Super Bowl XXXV — sounds less conceivable by the year. Yes, the game has changed, but that defensive dominance remains remarkable.

Watching Chris Jones come through at critical junctures reiterated why Baltimore has little choice but to place the franchise tag on Justin Madubuike if a long-term deal isn’t struck. Consistent inside pressure in today’s game is so rare — and valuable.

Terrell Suggs and Marshal Yanda are eligible for the Hall of Fame next year, but Julius Peppers and Jason Taylor are the only edge rushers and Larry Allen is the lone guard to be inducted on the first ballot since 2010. Those two may have to wait a little bit.

Ravens biggest positional needs this offseason: Retooling O-line No. 1 priority

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

2. Outside linebacker

Under contract: Odafe Oweh, Tyus Bowser, David Ojabo, Tavius Robinson, Malik Hamm

Pending free agents: Jadeveon Clowney, Kyle Van Noy, Malik Harrison

Baltimore relied heavily in 2023 on Clowney, who was signed halfway through training camp; and Van Noy, who was signed before Week 4. Either one of them could be back, but the price would have to be right and they probably won’t come as cheaply as they did this past season. Bowser, who missed the entire season with a mysterious knee injury, is the most obvious potential cap cut the Ravens have. Oweh took a small step forward, and the Ravens believe Robinson and Hamm have potential. Ojabo has missed most of his first two seasons, and it would be hard to pencil him in for a significant role until he shows he can stay on the field. There is room for one proven veteran. With the importance of the position, the Ravens should pounce if a pass rusher they covet falls to them in the draft.

5. Cornerback

Under contract: Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Stephens, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion Williams, Ar’Darius Washington, Tre Swilling, Christian Matthew

Pending free agents: Ronald Darby, Arthur Maulet, Rock Ya-Sin, Kevon Seymour, Trayvon Mullen

This is a position where the Ravens feel they need to add both veterans and rookies every year. This offseason will be no different. It would help if they could re-sign either Darby or Maulet. Pairing one of those guys with Humphrey and Stephens would lessen the need to do anything else significant. Still, Baltimore can’t count on Armour-Davis and Williams, who have struggled mightily to stay on the field and remain healthy, so quality depth is needed. The Ravens also have to look toward the future. Stephens is entering the final year of his rookie deal and Humphrey has been unable to finish two of the last three seasons. Don’t discount the Ravens using their first-round pick on a cornerback. That’s always a consideration for them.

2024 NFL Season: SI’s One Bold Prediction for Every Team

Conor Orr, Sports Illustrated

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens draft another first-round wide receiver.

With some of their positional depth approaching free agency, GM Eric DeCosta takes another swing at the receiver position in the first round. While the back end of the round isn’t always the best spot, DeCosta has a sound sense of positional economics, and possesses a fifth-year option on a potential star corner or wide receiver in this market is extremely valuable. With Rashod Bateman also approaching his walk year, Baltimore needs to stockpile the roster with complements for Zay Flowers.

Early NFL power rankings 2024: Where do Chiefs, 49ers land?

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

1. Baltimore Ravens

2023 record: 13-4

Offseason in three words: Busy, busy, busy

The Ravens have 25 unrestricted free agents, including 15 who totaled at least 200 snaps this season. The list includes three Pro Bowl players in defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, inside linebacker Patrick Queen and guard Kevin Zeitler. Baltimore won’t have a lot of salary cap space to keep all of its free agents, who combined for 24 touchdowns and 42 sacks this season.

“Well, we’ll be busy,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said at the end of the season. “At some point, you get to the point where you have to play with who you have, and you have to draft well, and you have to hit on players, and we’ve done that the last couple of years.”