Ravens Offseason Needs
Lamar Jackson dominated as a runner yet again but needs more offensive help through the Ravens offseason (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Ravens Offseason Needs 2021

Baltimore was yet again one game out from the AFC Championship for the second year in a row. Lamar Jackson and the run game remained dominant, while the passing game remained lackluster. Ravens feature one of the better cap situations in the league with $19 million in 2021. However, most of that will likely go towards re-signing expensive free agents. If Lamar Jackson and the passing game can take a step forward and the defense stays dominant, the Ravens offseason will be considered a success.

Roster Needs: EDGE, IOL, WR

Offense

Ravens Offseason Needs
Marquise Brown has come along well, but Baltimore needs to add another receiver for Lamar Jackson (Nick Wass/Associated Press)

Lamar Jackson needs better weapons. People complain about his shortcomings as a passer, but Jackson can only do so much with the weapons he has. Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown has flashed the speed that made him a first-round pick in 2018 but is not a true alpha receiver. Willie Snead is a free agent who is not worth bringing back. The athletically gifted Miles Boykin cannot separate and coincidentally has not produced anything notable in his first two seasons. Mark Andrews has quickly become one of the premier pass-catching tight ends in the league but can only do so much blocking half the time. The front office must acquire an all-around alpha at receiver for Lamar Jackson during the Ravens offseason.

Compelling options for the position are in free agency. Chris Godwin broke out in 2019 and maintained his high level of play during the Tom Brady era. Godwin runs a diverse route tree, routinely getting separation from the defense. Godwin can be dangerous in the slot and on the outside, both of which would benefit the Baltimore passing attack. Godwin may be too expensive; therefore, the hole at receiver may be attended to in the draft. GM, Eric DeCosta, would jump at the opportunity to draft Terrace Marshall and Rashod Bateman should they drop to the 27th pick in the first round. Both would immediately step into the top receiving role on the offense.

Given how reliant John Harbaugh and the offense are on the run game, the offensive line must continue to control the trenches. The combination of the line and Lamar Jackson led to the best rushing attack in the league. However, the Ravens lacked a quality center all year. In the last few games of the season, Jackson has trouble corralling muffed snaps. An upgrade is crucial over Patrick Mekari, the undrafted center out of Cal. Matt Skura, the other center is also an impending free agent who showed no reason to be re-signed.

Alex Mack should be a top target for DeCosta this offseason. The Falcon is a year removed from being ranked as a top center in the league. The 35-year old displayed solid athleticism for his age in the run game. The zone blocking scheme implemented in Atlanta will make a perfect fit transitioning to the Baltimore offense.       

Defense

Ravens Offseason Needs
Matt Judon led the team in sacks in 2020 and should be a priority to re-sign. (Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens)

Multiple free agents on the defensive side of the ball will look to get bigger paydays elsewhere next season. Baltimore is losing four starters along the defensive line. Matt Judon who has been an impactful edge rusher is supposedly seeking $20 million per year on his next contract.

Another edge rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, will also be looking for a significant pay raise. The two top rushers for Baltimore accounted for 13 of the team total 39 sacks last season. Baltimore will have a tough time trying to replace that production. Finally, rotational edge rusher Tyus Bowser will hit the open market and is unlikely to return. The veteran interior defender, Derek Wolfe, will likely be gone next season as well. Profiling as an ideal run-stopper, Wolfe will be another hole to fill amongst the defensive line.

In terms of confronting the issue at the edge, re-signing one of Ngakoue or Judon will be the plan. Preferably, the younger more athletic Ngakoue, but retaining either of the two will be a win for the front office. If they are unable to keep either, free agency offers the likes of Bud Dupree to fit the Ravens’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Dupree was having himself a massive season before an ACL tear cut it short. Dupree could step in opposite of the re-signed Judon to form a pass-rushing duo opposing quarterbacks will fear even more than last season.