Where Ravens are better, worse or the same following offseason of notable losses


Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta probably isn’t done.

The Ravens have gotten great value from late offseason and training camp free-agent signings over the years, and they’re still in contact with potential roster additions ahead of the 2024 season. The back-end roster churn will likely persist for the next couple of months.

Still, with rookies due to return to the Under Armour Performance Center next week and veterans required to report for training camp by July 20, it feels like a good time to evaluate the Ravens’ offseason roster additions and subtractions. And to ask where are they better or worse and where have they remained the same?

Better

Cornerback

In: Ka’dar Hollman (FA), Nate Wiggins (first-round pick), T.J. Tampa (fourth-round pick), Bump Cooper Jr. (UDFA)

Returning: Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Stephens, Arthur Maulet, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion Williams, Trayvon Mullen, Tre Swilling, Christian Matthew

Out: Ronald Darby (Jaguars), Rock Ya-Sin (49ers), Kevon Seymour (FA)

Reasons for confidence: The Ravens believe Humphrey will be ready for the season after an injury-plagued 2023. Stephens established himself last year as a starting corner. With the addition of Wiggins and Tampa and the return of Maulet, Baltimore has myriad matchup options.

Reasons for concern: Rookies, even first-round picks, tend to get challenged early. Wiggins has to prove he’s up to the task. There are questions about his size and Tampa’s speed, so they’ll be tested. Humphrey has struggled in recent seasons to stay healthy and make game-changing plays. Several Baltimore corners have health red flags.

Outlook: At least on paper, this is probably the most improved position group on the team. The Ravens will miss Darby, but they needed to add high-end talent to their cornerback room — Wiggins should do that. They will need their young corners to grow up fast and Humphrey to regain his Pro Bowl form. The pieces, though, are in place.

AP24149719667178 scaled


First-round cornerback Nate Wiggins helps bolster Baltimore’s secondary. (Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Running back

In: Derrick Henry (FA), Rasheen Ali (fifth-round pick), Chris Collier (UDFA)

Returning: Justice Hill, Keaton Mitchell, Owen Wright

Out: J.K. Dobbins (Chargers), Gus Edwards (Chargers), Dalvin Cook (FA), Melvin Gordon (FA)

Reasons for confidence: Henry strikes fear in defenses and forces teams to commit more manpower at the line of scrimmage, perhaps even creating space for Lamar Jackson. He’s also a workhorse who has played 15 games or more in seven of his eight seasons.

Reasons for concern: Henry tied a career low by averaging 4.2 yards per carry last season. He’s 30 and hasn’t run a lot out of shotgun and run-pass option looks like the Ravens utilize. It will be an adjustment. With the speedy Mitchell likely to miss a chunk of the season as he recovers from a knee injury, Baltimore lacks experience behind Henry and Hill.

Outlook: There’s risk involved when you bring in a free agent. However, signing a respected and durable back like Henry was a move the Ravens had to make. Edwards’ yards per carry average went down by nearly a full yard last season, and Dobbins’ health issues continued. Even if he’s not peak Henry, his punishing style and big-play potential is something the Ravens have lacked in their run game.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Derrick Henry feels right at home with Ravens: ‘This is where I knew I wanted to be’

Worse

Inside linebacker

In: Chris Board (FA), Deion Jennings (UDFA), Yvandy Rigby (UDFA)

Returning: Roquan Smith, Trenton Simpson, Josh Ross

Out: Patrick Queen (Steelers), Del’Shawn Phillips (Texans)

Reasons for confidence: Not only is Smith one of the best middle linebackers in football, he makes the players around him better. Smith should be an immense help for Simpson as the second-year linebacker moves into a starting role. Simpson has had a nice offseason so far and a much better grasp of the defense.

Reasons for concern: Queen’s speed, explosiveness and playmaking ability helped make Baltimore’s defense one of the top units in the league. Simpson may very well develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber inside linebacker, but growing pains are inevitable. The Ravens are relatively thin at the position, although Malik Harrison could factor here, too.

Outlook: It’s not that the Ravens didn’t want to keep Queen or didn’t believe he was a key part of their defense. They had to make some tough financial choices. Their belief in Simpson cushioned the blow. Simpson needs time to grow into a starting role, but he plays with the speed required.

Offensive line

In: Josh Jones (FA), Roger Rosengarten (second-round pick), Nick Samac (seventh-round pick), Corey Bullock (UDFA), Darrian Dalcourt (UDFA), Julian Pearl (UDFA), Darrell Simpson (UDFA)

Returning: Ronnie Stanley, Tyler Linderbaum, Patrick Mekari, Daniel Faalele, Ben Cleveland, Andrew Vorhees, Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, Tashawn Manning, TyKeem Doss

Out: Morgan Moses (Jets), Kevin Zeitler (Lions), John Simpson (Jets), Sam Mustipher (Broncos), Josh Wells (FA)

Reasons for confidence: Linderbaum, an ascending third-year pro, is already one of the top centers in the NFL. During offseason practices, Stanley looked as athletic and healthy as he has in several years. Ravens offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris has a well-earned reputation for being a good teacher, and the Ravens have several developmental linemen.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

A rejuvenated Ronnie Stanley feels he has a lot left in the tank

Reasons for concern: Replacing three starters isn’t easy, and Zeitler and Moses brought a lot to the table. Neither Faalele nor Cleveland have shown enough consistency to indicate they are ready to be above-average starters. Stanley has a lot to prove in terms of staying healthy and returning to his pre-injury level.

Outlook: The Ravens’ decision-makers don’t share the same angst about the state of their offensive line as outsiders do, or they would have made more moves to address it. Still, there are legitimate questions here. Is Rosengarten ready to be a plug-and-play guy? Are the Ravens putting too much faith in Vorhees? What happens if Stanley falters? Going younger and more athletic makes sense, but there’s a lot of unknown here.

Outside linebacker

In: Adisa Isaac (third-round pick), Joe Evans (UDFA)

Returning: Odafe Oweh, Kyle Van Noy, David Ojabo, Malik Harrison, Tavius Robinson, Malik Hamm

Out: Jadeveon Clowney (Panthers), Tyus Bowser (FA)

Reasons for confidence: The Ravens have invested a lot of early- and mid-round draft capital in this group, and assistant Chuck Smith can develop pass rushers. Oweh made strides last year and metrics indicate he had a much better season than his stats suggested. Van Noy’s versatility and experience fit the Ravens well.

Reasons for concern: Ojabo, a second-round pick in 2022, has essentially had two lost seasons and is still working his way back from last year’s knee injury. Isaac missed all of the offseason practices with a strained hamstring, so it’s tough to expect too much from him early. Baltimore failed to replace Clowney, a force against the run and pass, with a proven and feared rusher.

Outlook: It’s a production business and the Ravens don’t have a double-digit-sack outside linebacker on the roster. For Clowney’s departure not to loom large, Oweh needs to graduate into an eight-to-10-sack guy and one of the young outside linebackers has to become a weekly threat. If it appears neither of those things will happen, DeCosta will be looking at the available edge rushers before the trade deadline.

Safety

In: Sanoussi Kane (seventh-round pick), Beau Brade (UDFA), Jordan Toles (UDFA)

Returning: Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton, Ar’Darius Washington

Out: Geno Stone (Bengals), Daryl Worley (FA), Andrew Adams (FA)

Reasons for confidence: If they remain healthy, Marcus Williams and Hamilton could become the top safety duo in football. Hamilton has Defensive Player of the Year potential. Washington has played well when called upon. There are several quality free agents still available if the Ravens don’t believe their No. 3 safety is currently on the roster.

Reasons for concern: Stone parlayed a career year into a nice contract from Cincinnati, and Baltimore didn’t replace him. They’ll miss his steadiness. If the Ravens want to continue to move Hamilton around, they’ll need to have a No. 3 safety they trust. Williams and Washington have both struggled to stay on the field.

Outlook: The Ravens’ depth here would be a bigger concern if there weren’t a handful of proven safeties available. Asking prices will likely come down as free agents look to find homes in time for training camp, and that’s typically when DeCosta pounces. Adding a player such as Justin Simmons or Quandre Diggs would erase any concerns.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

What should each NFL team be worried about entering camp? Picking one concern for all 32 teams

About the same

Defensive line

In: Deadrin Senat (FA), Josh Tupou (FA), C.J. Ravenell (UDFA), Tramel Walthour (UDFA)

Returning: Justin Madubuike, Michael Pierce, Broderick Washington, Travis Jones, Brent Urban, Rayshad Nichols

Out: None

Reasons for confidence: This group played well last year and returns intact. Team officials believe Madubuike, who had 13 sacks last season, has another level he can get to. The financial commitment the Ravens made to him is proof. Jones could be the next Baltimore defender to break out.

Reasons for concern: Pierce will need to show he can stay healthy for another full season. Madubuike will command even more attention, particularly with Clowney and Queen playing elsewhere. Anthony Weaver, the Ravens’ ex-defensive line coach, is now the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator. His replacement, Dennis Johnson, is well thought of but new to the NFL.

Outlook: Barring injuries, the Ravens are probably set with Madubuike, Pierce, Washington, Jones and Urban on the 53. It’s a solid group, but it could be even better if Jones takes a big step forward in Year 3 and Washington plays more like he did in 2022.

Scoop City Newsletter

Scoop City Newsletter

Free, daily NFL updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

Free, daily NFL updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

BuyBuy Scoop City Newsletter

Quarterback

In: Devin Leary (sixth-round pick), Emory Jones (UDFA)

Returning: Lamar Jackson, Josh Johnson

Out: Tyler Huntley (Browns)

Reasons for confidence: The Ravens have Jackson, a two-time league MVP, and they’ve been one of the top teams in football when he’s healthy. With a year in Todd Monken’s offense under his belt, Jackson should be even more comfortable and dangerous.

Reasons for concern: With Huntley now playing for a division rival, Jackson’s primary backup is Johnson, a 38-year-old journeyman who has started just nine NFL regular-season games since 2009. Leary is a developmental guy who may not be ready to contribute as a rookie.

Outlook: Ravens offensive coaches appear to have a comfort level with Johnson that waned with Huntley, who made critical mistakes at bad times. While Johnson lacks Huntley’s athleticism, he’s capable of moving the offense and making smart decisions. If Jackson is out for an extended period, Baltimore’s in trouble. But that was the case with Huntley, too. It makes sense for the Ravens to periodically check in with free agent Ryan Tannehill to see if he has any interest in backing up Jackson.

Specialists

In: Randen Plattner (UDFA)

Returning: Justin Tucker, Jordan Stout, Nick Moore

Out: Tyler Ott (Commanders)

Reasons for confidence: Tucker remains one of the best in the league, and he’s not exactly the rest-on-his-laurels type. The Ravens are extremely well coached on special teams and have enjoyed stability with their kicking battery.

Reasons for concern: Moore missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles, so he’s going to have to prove he’s all the way back. Consistency has been elusive for Stout, a fourth-round pick in 2022.

Outlook: Tucker didn’t have his best year last season, but he’s the least of Baltimore’s concerns. Plattner provides some insurance if Moore struggles. Otherwise, there’s not much to see here.

Tight end/fullback

In: Mike Rigerman (UDFA), Riley Sharp (UDFA)

Returning: Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar, Scotty Washington, Patrick Ricard

Out: Ben Mason (Chargers)

Reasons for confidence: Andrews, who should be back to 100 percent, and Ricard are two of the best players in the league at their respective positions. Likely emerged in Andrews’ absence last year and looked this offseason like a player who has found another level.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Ravens stock report: Who rose, who fell during OTAs and minicamp?

Reasons for concern: Andrews plays with such great effort and physicality every time he’s on the field, so his health always bears watching. The Ravens have struggled to get Likely and Kolar involved when Andrews is playing — that needs to change.

Outlook: Unsurprisingly, the Ravens didn’t bring in anybody here this offseason beyond adding Rigerman and Sharp after the draft. Injuries happen, and the unproven tight ends will get plenty of opportunities this summer, but the Ravens are set with Andrews, Likely, Kolar and Ricard.

Wide receiver

In: Deonte Harty (FA), Keith Kirkwood (FA), Malik Cunningham (transitioning from quarterback), Devontez Walker (fourth-round pick), Qadir Ismail (UDFA), Dayton Wade (UDFA), Isaiah Washington (UDFA)

Returning: Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, Tylan Wallace, Sean Ryan

Out: Odell Beckham Jr. (Dolphins), Devin Duvernay (Jaguars), Laquon Treadwell (FA), Dan Chisena (Cardinals)

Reasons for confidence: Flowers had the best season ever for a Ravens rookie receiver and has the talent to become the young No. 1 the team has long lacked. After his first healthy offseason and a contract extension, Bateman is primed for a breakout. At the very least, he should see a major uptick in targets.

Reasons for concern: The Ravens didn’t replace Beckham, who had modest numbers but was still a threat defenses had to account for and a positive influence in a young receiver room. An injury to Flowers, Bateman or Agholor would leave the Ravens vulnerable and spur the need for Wallace and Walker to become major contributors. Bateman and Jackson have not always been on the same page. That needs to be rectified.

Outlook: There’s been plenty of talk about the Ravens not making a major investment at wide receiver, but Beckham and Duvernay combined for 39 catches last season. The Ravens will miss Beckham’s presence more than his production. If Beckham’s departure leads to more opportunities for Bateman, and he cashes in on those, the Ravens could be better at receiver, especially if Walker is an immediate contributor.

(Top photo of Derrick Henry: Nick Wass / Associated Press)



Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top