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AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

Zach Orr’s Vision for Ravens Defense

Ryan Mink,

As he puts his stamp on a Ravens defense that won’t change as much as continue to evolve, Orr knows what he wants it to stand for. He presented it like a checklist:

Playing as one: ”I want our defense to play together first and foremost – 11 people playing as one.”

Violent: ”I want it to be violent – very violent, physical. That’s just the standard here. Everything we’re going to do is going to be with physicality and violence.”

Execution: ”Executing at a high level, executing in certain situations, executing all the time.”

Organized chaos: ”Present a lot of problems to the offense. Never give the answer to the offense before the snap.”

Schematically, Orr said not much will change but he will put his own stamp on Baltimore’s system.

“We definitely want to build on that. That’s a scheme that we helped build here for years,” Orr said. “We’re always looking to get better. I think that’s why you’ve seen great defenses here in the past. That’s what we’ve got to continue.”

Sizing up the Ravens’ 2024 class of free agents

Luke Jones, Baltimore Positive

RB J.K. DobbinsAfter a disgruntled offseason that included a “hold-in” to open training camp, the talented 2020 second-round pick suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the season opener, continuing a brutal run of injuries that have derailed a promising career.

WR Devin Duvernay Though a two-time Pro Bowl selection as a return specialist, Duvernay saw his role in the offense all but disappear with the other additions at wide receiver, so it will be interesting to see what kind of free-agent market he has next month.

RB Gus Edwards Despite setting career highs in touchdowns, rushing yards, rushing attempts, and receiving yards in an expanded role, Edwards averaged a career-low 4.1 yards per carry, so it seems clear he’s better suited for a more complementary role if he returns.

LB Malik HarrisonSeeing most of his snaps as an early-down Sam linebacker with Tyus Bowser missing the entire season, Harrison offers some versatility and a good presence on special teams, so a return at a low cost wouldn’t be surprising.

QB Tyler HuntleyLamar Jackson’s backup has shown the ability to hold down the fort for limited stretches, so we’ll see how he’s valued elsewhere, especially with the Ravens having signed quarterback Malik Cunningham off New England’s practice squad in December.

ILB Patrick QueenMaking the Pro Bowl in his contract year, Queen has positioned himself to earn a lucrative contract, but it’s very difficult to see the Ravens making another major investment at inside linebacker after signing Roquan Smith to a $100 million deal.

Longtime NFL Exec Michael Lombardi: How Ravens Can Better Utilize Lamar Jackson

Luke Jackson, PressBox

The Ravens also have to get better along the offensive line after getting pushed around some by the Chiefs, according to Lombardi. Starting guards John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler are pending free agents, and Lombardi believes the Ravens have questions to answer at both tackle spots. Veterans Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses are both under contract for 2024 but split time with younger tackles Patrick Mekari and Daniel Faalele for much of the 2023 season.

Stanley in particular might prove to be a tough conversation for the team. The former All-Pro signed a five-year contract worth nearly $100 million during the 2020 season, but he almost immediately suffered a career-altering ankle injury. Stanley has played in just 31 of 67 regular-season games since the beginning of the 2020 season. He turns 30 in March and has two years remaining on his contract.

The Ravens would save roughly $8.3 million on the cap by designating Stanley as a pre-June 1 cut and $15 million by designating him as a post-June 1 cut. The better solution may be to ask Stanley to take a pay cut that allows him to earn the rest of his money via incentives, but that becomes tricky as well.

“If you go to the kid and say, ‘I want you to take a pay cut. I want to put all the money in incentives so you’re playing in all the games,’ what’s his motivation to do that? Go ahead and release me,” Lombardi said. “He has no real motivation to work with you. He’s not going to say, ‘I’m sorry I missed games.’ They paid him.”

“When they do that,” Lombardi continued, “the reality here becomes can he get that deal on the open market? Is someone willing to pay Ronnie Stanley what they’re willing to pay him? And that’s where the Ravens gain an advantage because I’m not sure someone’s going to pay that to a player who’s only played in 31 games over the last four years.”

Ravens roundtable: Answering questions about Lamar Jackson, free agency, 2024 record and more

Brian Wacker & Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens have the 30th pick of the NFL draft plus six other picks. What’s their biggest need(s)?

Wacker: With the exception of tight end and quarterback, the Ravens need help just about everywhere, most notably along the offensive line with two aging, injury-prone tackles and two starting guards who are free agents and little in the pipeline behind them. After that, outside linebacker is a big need with uncertainty about how David Ojabo will fare coming back from a torn ACL after suffering a torn Achilles tendon the year before and Odafe Oweh’s performance having flattened out as the season went on (though his ankle injury could’ve played a part). Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, meanwhile, are both free agents and coming off career years, likely making them unaffordable. Cornerback, wide receiver and running back are also areas that will need to be addressed.

Walker: They need at least one young offensive lineman who could start in 2024 and preferably another to compete for a starting job by 2025. They could go a win-now route in 2024 and bring back most of their line, save penalty-prone left guard John Simpson, but major change will be in order the following season, with center Tyler Linderbaum the only long-term building block on the current roster. They also need a cornerback given that Brandon Stephens is headed for free agency after next season and Marlon Humphrey missed eight games with a variety of injuries in 2023. A plug-and-play running back would help given that Keaton Mitchell will be coming back from knee surgery.

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Broadway Brock Bowers as Jets Land Talented Tight End, Joe Alt Becomes Commanders’ Cornerstone

Oliver Hodgkinson, Pro Football Network

30) Baltimore Ravens: Graham Barton, G, Duke

The Baltimore Ravens added multiple interior offensive linemen a year ago, but they should continue strengthening the trenches this time around.

Duke’s Graham Barton is a powerful and well-built piledriver who will likely transition inside at the next level despite holding down the left tackle spot in Durham. He’ll upgrade all facets of the Ravens’ offense.