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Looking Ahead at the Ravens’ Biggest Offseason Needs

January 15, 2019 - 7:56 am
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By Joe Schiller

Following a 10-6 season and a Wild Card berth, the Baltimore Ravens face a pivotal offseason under the guide of new general manager Eric DeCosta.

The Ravens are one of the few, if only successful teams this past season that could see a number of turnover on the coaching staff and the 53-man roster. It’s already beginning to happen with the promotion of Greg Roman to offensive coordinator.

It’s the beginning of a new era with Lamar Jackson under center and the coming months will prove crucial. Now provides a window the Ravens can us rare cap flexibility to build around their dynamic second-year quarterback.

In no particular order, here are my top five offseason needs for the Ravens.

 

1. Offensive Line

Unintentionally, this was the first need on my list and it may just be the most important. The offensive line, specifically the interior, was a weak link for the Ravens this season. Ryan Jensen’s absence was felt at center and the revolving door of James Hurst, Alex Lewis and Bradley Bozeman at left guard lacked continuity.

Marshal Yanda is nearing the final years of his NFL career with two years left on his current contract. Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. offer bright spots on the edges at left and right tackle but there's work to be done.

When it comes to needs, this is a position I feel confident in the Ravens’ ability to address. They have an tremendous track record finding talent through all rounds of the draft.


 

2. Wide Receiver

John Brown is set to become an unrestricted free agent while the rest of the group is under contract for the 2019 season. Although, Michael Crabtree is a potential cap casualty following a disappointing first year with the Ravens.

Adapting to an unconventional offense in today’s NFL standards means finding receivers who can fit it and will want to play in it. Are Brown and Crabtree those kinds of pass catchers at this point in their careers?

Willie Snead seems like a fit but the rest of the depth chart features rookies in Jordan Lasley and Jaleel Scott, who didn’t play a regular-season snap, along with Quincy Adeboyejo.

Receiver has been a position the Ravens have struggled to find consistency at but they’ll have their pick at a talented pool of players come late April.

 

3. Running Back

A mid-season offensive change gave the Ravens one of the NFL’s most potent rushing attacks. They finished second in the league, averaging 152.6 yards per game led primarily by Lamar Jackson, Kenneth Dixon and Gus Edwards.

It was Alex Collins the year before, Terrance West and Justin Forsett in years past but Baltimore hasn’t had a home-run hitter at the running back position in quite some time. Dixon, a fourth-round pick, and Edwards, an undrafted free agent, were extremely productive but are they might not be the long-term answer the Ravens need to sustain this type of offense.

However, if the Ravens are going to commit to a run-heavy attack under Roman, they need an elite-level talent. The remaining running backs are effective complementary pieces.

 

 

4. Outside Linebacker

The NFL’s No. 1 overall defense finished T-11th with 43 sacks this season and could see their leading sacker (Za’Darius Smith) depart in free agency. Smith could certainly follow the calling card of previous Baltimore pass rushers who earned their payday on the open market.

Terrell Suggs is likely on to Canton when it’s all said and done but the 36-year-old is set to be an unrestricted free agent with the desire to continue his career. There’s no guarantee that will be with the Ravens, especially if the price tag is too high.

Matt Judon is the only proven pass rusher under contract next season. Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser have left much to be desired through two seasons. While their third seasons could make for breakout campaigns, the Ravens need established talent at the position.

 

 

5. Safety

This might be the most challenging position the Ravens will decide on this offseason. There’s a realistic scenario where both starters from last season – Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson – return to their respective roles, or a scenario where they both are gone.

Weddle, 34, enters the final season of a 4-year, $26 million contract and will contemplate retirement if he doesn’t return in Baltimore. Jefferson could be cut for two years into a 4-year deal for $19 million in cap savings but $8.8 in dead money.

Two intriguing young players in Chuck Clark and Deshon Elliott are waiting in the wings for an opportunity. It may be a year late but the Ravens must prepare for a change at the safety position sooner or later.