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Baltimore Ravens Offseason Outlook

The Baltimore Ravens had quite a disappointing 2021/22 campaign, falling flat ahead of the playoffs after getting off to a pretty encouraging start to the regular season. They became the first team in the last nine years to fall from the No.1 seed to not even making it to postseason play six weeks later and are now heading towards perhaps their most crucial offseason in recent times

Their epic collapse, a six-week losing streak, was helped on by an ankle injury to highly-rated quarterback Lamar Jackson, as well as defensive frailties and failure to find success from multiple two-point conversions. The Ravens will have to do one hell of a job in the upcoming draft and free agency if they are to fix the problems that saw them fail to make the playoffs for the first time in head coach John Harbaugh’s 14 seasons in charge.

"All you do is you think every single day, probably more than my [wife], Ingrid, would like for me to, about what we’re doing, where we’re going, what do we need to do?,” the coach was quoted as saying, per ESPN. 'What’s the next step? What’s the best decision and what opportunities are we going to have? That’s kind of what you think about every second, driving somewhere, or just sitting around, or when you’re working, or working out, or watching tape."

So what's next?

Let's take a look at the job ahead for the Ravens, who have a projected salary-cap space of around $10.17 million, and their prospects for the 2022/23 season.

Top free agents include: C Bradley Bozeman, DE Calais Campbell, NT Brandon Williams, FB Patrick Ricard, WR Sammy Watkins, S DeShon Elliott, CB Jimmy Smith, OLB Justin Houston, RB Latavius Murray, OLB Pernell McPhee, CB Anthony Averett and RB Devonta Freeman

Potential cut candidates include: OT Alejandro Villanueva ($6 million in cap savings), CB Tavon Young ($5.845 million), and WR Miles Boykin ($2.54 million)

The glaring issue for Baltimore is centered on Jackson. How the team will get the QB back into their offense remains to be seen. Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta will probably tell you the change should start up front as both men have previously pointed out that the offensive line is a main area of concern. The Ravens’ offensive line leaves a lot to be desired as is. Jackson was named league MVP when he played behind one of the most formidable lines in the NFL back in 2019, a stark difference from the last one.

He intercepted a career-high 13 times playing behind a porous offensive line and was sacked 38 times, also the most of his NFL career.

Bozeman, as noted above, is the top available free agent but the Ravens might not be able to retain him as he is able to command a contract to the tune of $10 million a season.

DeCosta has indicated that the team could bring in two offensive linemen, likely offensive tackle and center. They are, however, projected to be in the middle when it comes to NFL teams’ salary cap space after cuts are made. They could have as many as nine picks in the first four rounds of this year’s draft once compensatory picks get handed out.

The best-case scenario for the Ravens would involve them getting free agents who could shore things up at the center and middle linebacker positions while also addressing the other areas such as offensive tackle, the defensive line, and pass rush in the first three rounds of the draft. Keeping Pro Bowl fullback Ricard should be a priority as well.

If they can’t re-sign Bozeman, Ryan Jensen remains an option. Baltimore has a knack for signing salary-cap cuts from other teams, mainly because they don’t count against compensatory picks. Linebacker Bobby Wagner would be a great option should the Seattle Seahawks cut him.

The Ravens would be a good bet for punters should they get some real work done in the offseason and, on that front, it’s worth noting that Maryland Fanduel offers odds on all Baltimore games and futures.

Adversely, the Ravens could simply do as they have been doing in free agency. The last three seasons have seen them shop pretty poorly - acquiring running back Mark Ingram II and guard Kevin Zeitler was great, but then they also went for safety Earl Thomas and offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

Campbell has been pretty disappointing, as have wide receiver Sammy Watkins and defensive end Derek Wolfe, who have all been unfortunate with injuries. It’s also very possible that they get priced out of the market when it comes to attempts to retain their best free agents, with Bozeman, Ricard, and Averett likely set to attract lots of attention.

Looking at the draft, the Ravens could fill the defensive line with youth because Campbell and Brandon Williams will be free agents. DeCosta could opt to go big early there.

Getting an offensive tackle to play opposite Ronnie Stanley would be great for a Baltimore team that was cut up by injuries last season. They could really use some depth in the position.