Analysis

Baltimore Ravens Free Agency Outlook

Baltimore Ravens Free Agency Preview

The Baltimore Ravens 2021 season was a tale of two halves that were determined by one limb. The Ravens began the season on a tear, sitting at 5-1 entering Week 7. They kept up their strong play heading into Week 13 as they sat atop the AFC, poised to earn the coveted first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Ravens stumbled in Week 13 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, failing to convert what would have been a game-winning two-point conversion with 12 seconds left, and then saw quarterback Lamar Jackson sustain an ankle injury in a Week 14 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Jackson would not return the rest of the season, and the Ravens endured a six-game losing streak to close out the year despite the best efforts of backup quarterback Tyler Huntley. The Ravens entered 2021 with the 16th oldest average roster age in the league and are projected to have just $6 million in cap space to retool and return to the postseason after their three-year playoff streak was broken.

Update: The Ravens now have $15,650,982 available in cap space.

Baltimore’s Impending Free Agents

C Bradley Bozeman

CB Anthony Averett

DT Calais Campbell

EDGE Justin Houston

LB Josh Bynes

CB Tavon Young

FB Patrick Ricard

RB Devonta Freeman

DT Brandon Williams

WR Sammy Watkins

DT Justin Ellis

LB Chris Board

RB Latavius Murray

S DeShon Elliott

CB Jimmy Smith

TE Eric Tomlinson

EDGE Pernell McPhee

CB Chris Westry

QB Josh Johnson

OT David Sharpe

S Anthony Levine

LB Otaro Alaka

LB L.J. Fort

DT Aaron Crawford (ERFA)

CB Khalil Dorsey (ERFA)

The most notable free agents for the Ravens are on their front seven, particularly with defensive tackle Calais Campbell and edge rusher Justin Houston. Campbell will turn 36 a week before the 2022 season begins and has seen his sack numbers decline in three straight seasons. However, he remains an important cog on the defensive line and one of Baltimore’s most important leaders. Houston is 33 years old and has similarly seen his sack numbers decline in three straight seasons. With over 100 career sacks and plenty of experience, he will certainly draw interest in free agency as a rotational pass rusher. Other important defensive free agents for the Ravens include safety DeShon Elliott and cornerback Anthony Averett. Elliott went on season-ending IR with a biceps and pectoral injury suffered in Week 8 while Averett had three interceptions and 54 tackles in 2021.

On offense, the most notable free agent for the Ravens is center Bradley Bozeman. He has started every game for the Ravens the past three seasons, playing center for the first time in 2021 after starting at left guard in 2019 and 2020. Bozeman has been a reliable fulcrum for the Ravens upfront and as a competent offensive lineman, will draw plenty of interest. Fullback Patrick Ricard is another key free agent for the Ravens’ offense with 2021 marking his third consecutive Pro Bowl. He is a crucial part of the rushing attack that anchors the Ravens’ offense and will definitely be a priority for Baltimore to re-sign.

Franchise Tag

The Ravens do not have any candidates that would make sense for the franchise tag. Baltimore has only used the franchise tag once since 2012: on kicker Justin Tucker in 2016. 

Update: The Ravens elected to not use their franchise tag this offseason.

Top Team Needs

  1. Offensive Tackle
  2. Edge Rusher
  3. Defensive Tackle
  4. Center
  5. Safety
  6. Wide Receiver

Baltimore’s top four needs being on the lines of scrimmage speaks appropriate volumes about the state of the trenches in Maryland during last season and the significant fixes needed. An offseason trade of left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. in 2021 was made with the idea of playing 2016 6th overall pick Ronnie Stanley at left tackle full-time. However, Stanley played in just one game in 2021 as he underwent surgery for a season-ending ankle injury and right tackle Alejandro Villanueva was forced to play left tackle for much of the season. Villanueva played poorly, and with Stanley’s health uncertain, both tackle spots remain high priorities for the Ravens. Center also remains a weak point especially if Bozeman exits in free agency.

The Ravens are set to lose significant talent and depth from their defensive front – in addition to the free agencies of Campbell and Houston – as defensive tackles Brandon William & Justin Ellis and edge rusher Pernell McPhee are no longer under contract as well. The Ravens lack a dominant player on their defensive front and will look to make a splash in free agency. At safety, Elliott is a free agent and the Ravens could certainly look to upgrade in free agency. Safety projects as one of the strongest and deepest positions in 2022 free agency. Despite Baltimore having one of the lowest pass rates in the league, they lack receiver depth behind Marquise Brown and are set to lose fellow wideout Sammy Watkins.