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Restricted Free Agents the Ravens Should Consider

March 11, 2019 - 11:31 pm
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By Joe Schiller 

Less than 24 hours into the NFL’s legal tampering period, it’s been a wild ride.

We’ve seen a litany of signings and a ton of money thrown around like kids spending their gift cards on Christmas morning.

While the focus has undoubtedly been on unrestricted free agents, restricted free agents are always intriguing. Teams have until 4 pm on Wednesday to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents and they can do it in a number of ways – first-round tender, second-round tender, original-round tender, and right-of-first-refusal tender. 

The Baltimore Ravens benefited from the restricted free agent pool last season, signing wide receiver Willie Snead to a 2-year, $10.4 million deal. Snead had a productive year in Baltimore (651 yards, 1 touchdown) and General Manager Eric DeCosta could target the restricted free agent market this offseason.

He’d be smart to do so and here are five players the Ravens should consider signing.

 

Geronimo Allison, WR (Packers)

Status: No tender received

The Ravens have an obvious need at wide receiver and their formula of targeting veteran pass catchers is a band-aid covering a bigger wound. With Michael Crabtree gone and John Brown a pending unrestricted free agent, Baltimore could add a talented young receiver in Geronimo Allison.

Allison was on pace for a career year in 2018 (20 receptions, 303 yards, 2 touchdowns), before being placed on injured reserve in early November with a groin injury.

He has steadily improved throughout three seasons and would be a cheap but effective add to Greg Roman’s offense. Allison likely won’t garner a second-round tender ($3.095 million), meaning the Packers would use an original-round or right-of-first-refusal tender.

In both cases, the Ravens could sign Allison without losing any draft compensation.


Jordan Lucas, S (Chiefs)

Status: No tender received

Eric Weddle’s release signaled the need for the Ravens to get younger at safety. Now they’re tasked with finding a replacement to start alongside Tony Jefferson.

They could look no further than to Jordan Lucas.

The safety saw limited time as a starter for the Kansas City Chiefs last season but impressed. He finished with 32 total tackles, one sack and one interception in four starts.

Lucas, 25, is a former sixth-round pick. The Ravens could certainly afford giving up one of their two sixth-round picks if Lucas were to be signed to an original-round tender.

With Eric Berry and the addition of Tyrann Mathieu, Lucas becomes expendable. Adding competition to a young group of Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott would be a wise move for the Ravens. 

 

Cory Littleton, LB (Rams)

Status: No tender received

It’s becoming more and more likely the Ravens will lose out on C.J. Mosley. He could become the NFL’s highest-paid linebacker this offseason, after Kwon Alexander and Anthony Barr reportedly signed monster deals on Monday.

DeCosta and co. must prepare for the potential of losing one of their defensive stars but Cory Littleton could provide a fantastic replacement.

The former undrafted linebacker out of Washington started all 16 games for the NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams last season and was a stud. He finished tied for 10th in total tackles (125) and added four sacks and three interceptions.

Littleton ranked 11th among linebackers in pass coverage (83.1), per Pro Football Focus – an area Mosley has struggled in.

At only 25-years-old, Littleton is certainly flying under the radar. The expectation is that he’ll receive a second-round tender. If that’s the case, the Ravens are out of the running without a second-round pick.

 

Rashard Higgins, WR (Browns)

Status: Original-tender (5th round)

Rashard Higgins’ emergence last season was noticeable and the Ravens saw the first-hand he could do. Higgins totaled seven catches for 156 yards and a touchdown in two meetings last season – en route to a 572-yard, four touchdown campaign.

The Browns placed an original-round tender (5th round) on Higgins this offseason. If you’re following the theme, he’s another young receiver the Ravens could target.

I could see Higgins, a deep threat, helping the Ravens’ offense this season. He averaged 14.7 yards per reception in 2018 and despite concerns about Lamar Jackson's arm strength, the second-year quarterback would have a deep-threat target.