The Baltimore Ravens have been one of the top teams in the NFL since giving quarterback Lamar Jackson the full-time reins two years ago. In an MVP campaign, Jackson led the Ravens’ nearly unstoppable rushing attack that resulted in a No. 1 seed and a 14-2 record in the 2019 season. Unfortunately, they ran into a tough opponent in the Tennessee Titans, who sent them packing without a single postseason win. This past season, though they gave their fans a bit of a scare this year—at one point sitting on a 6-5 record—they finished the regular season on a five-game winning streak on their way to getting revenge on that same Tennessee team in the postseason a year later.
The 2020-21 campaign still ended short of their goal, however, as the Ravens were eliminated by the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round. Now that the season is over, we’ve been able to really step back and see what was different for the Ravens’ offense this season and their priority of adjustments moving forward.
The Ravens were the best team in the NFL when it came to rushing the ball in 2020. They rushed for a league-high 3,071 yards with a league-high 5.5 yards-per-carry average. They finished third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, but that is no slight to them rushing the ball the most and being the most efficient team while doing it.
However, the Ravens also finished with the lowest passing yards in the league. Is there a give and take? Sure, and if you can get more than five yards per carry on the ground, I can certainly understand doing that often. However, you have to be able to pass the ball effectively and explosively to win a championship in this league. Too many times we saw the Ravens get behind on the scoreboard, their game script was forced to change, and their offense got uncomfortable as a result. When they had to speed things up and push the ball with the passing game, that’s where they showed deficiencies. For as good as Jackson, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards were on the ground, they needed more from the passing attack.
Wide receiver Marquise Brown was the team’s top target in 2020, and where Brown brought that big-play speed deep down the field, the Ravens needed more consistency underneath him. In 2019, the Ravens had a three-headed tight end attack with Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst, and Nick Boyle. After giving so many targets to Hurst in the passing game, they did not replace his presence after trading him. They tried to make it work with just Boyle and Andrews, but it wasn’t the same, both in personnel preferences and in tight end efficiency.
The Ravens have 17 unrestricted free agents, which is a lot, but the only big name on offense in that group is wide receiver Willie Snead, who Baltimore can replace if need be. They also have running back Gus Edwards as an exclusive rights free agent, which will cost them about $3-4 million to tender him. The current projected cap space is all over the place right now, but if we assume it will be somewhere around $180 million, the Ravens should have somewhere between $10-$15 million of space available to them.
So, given what the Ravens need to do on offense to take the next step, here are some offensive free agent options for the Ravens at varying prices.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans
Projected AAV: $8 million
This likely won’t be the last time you read a Jonnu Smith free agency blurb from me. I love what Smith brings as both a blocker and a receiver. He can be a true tight end addition as an extra blocker in-line next to offensive tackles, and he also has experience as an H-back hybrid out of the backfield in motion behind the line of scrimmage before and after the snap. He brings a lot of versatility in both the run and pass game. This is a perfect addition for the Ravens, and should honestly be one of their top targets.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers
Projected AAV: $12.5 million
I really do think Samuel’s best ball is ahead of him. He’s finished the past season with nice stats, but with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson also on the Carolina Panthers’ depth chart, Samuel didn’t have as much of a chance to prove his worth as he could in the future on another team. Samuel would be a good complement to Brown and the tight ends already on the roster. Samuel can be a quick-hit, yards-after-catch player while giving you a field-stretching threat with his speed.
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Projected AAV: $18 million
If money were not an option, Godwin would be the top player for the Ravens’ offense. Godwin has not only shown that he can be a deep ball receiver, as he has been with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the past two seasons, but he is also a reliable possession type on money downs—and maybe most importantly, brings an important mentality toward blocking and being used in the run game. Godwin is an all-around stud. The Ravens would love him, I’m just not sure they can afford him—and I don’t think he’s leaving Tampa.
- Aug 22, 2022
- Aug 22, 2022