Ravens News 3/5: Secret Sauce (2024)

How the Ravens can win the offseason: A 10-step plan for free agency

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

1. Restructure QB Lamar Jackson, TE Mark Andrews and ILB Roquan Smith’s deals

A simple restructure of Jackson’s contract, in which most of his 2024 base salary would be converted into a prorated signing bonus, would create $11.1 million in savings. A simple restructure of Andrews and Smith’s contracts would free up another $8.6 million. Altogether, that’s about $20 million in savings.

2. Agree on pay cut with LT Ronnie Stanley

Stanley’s $26.2 million cap hit is the second biggest on the Ravens’ 2024 books, a sky-high price tag for an injury-prone left tackle (10 missed games over the past two years). According to Sports Info Solutions, Stanley had the highest blown-block rate in both pass protection and run blocking among the Ravens’ regular starting linemen last year.

But there might be more upside in keeping him than parting ways. If he’s released, the Ravens would save just $8.3 million in cap space and leave $17.8 million in dead-money charges. If he’s designated as a post-June 1 release, the Ravens would create $15 million in cap space — but not until the first waves of free agency have passed. A decision will have to come soon; Stanley’s owed a $4 million roster bonus March 17 if he’s still on the team.

A pay cut in the range of $6 million, with performance incentive opportunities for Stanley, could be a compromise for both sides.

3. Designate WR Odell Beckham Jr. with post-June 1 release

2024 NFL free agency: Best available receivers, defensive backs

Bill Barnwell, ESPN

Tier 4: Borderline starters/high-end backups

Free agents: Odell Beckham Jr., Ravens; Tyler Boyd, Bengals; Gabe Davis, Bills; Darnell Mooney, Bears; Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Chiefs

Possible cap casualties: Michael Gallup, Cowboys; Allen Lazard, Jets; Michael Thomas, Saints

Beckham’s one-year deal with the Ravens ended up producing a different sort of season than what we’ve seen from the former Giants standout in previous years. He averaged a career-high 16.1 yards per reception, but Baltimore cut back heavily on his usage. He played just about every snap in Week 1 and during the first half of Week 2, then missed all of the second half and the next two games with an ankle injury. From that point forward, the Ravens played him on about 45% of the offensive snaps. I’m not sure he’s more than a rotational player at this point.

Will Ravens pounce on a RB such as Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley in free agency?

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

The Ravens have had just one 1,000-yard running back (Mark Ingram in 2019) in Jackson’s five full seasons as a starter. Yet, they’ve led the league in rushing yards per game in three of those seasons and finished second and third in the other two. There were questions about how effective the Ravens would be running the ball with the departure of Greg Roman following the 2022 season, and all Baltimore did last year was lead the league in rushing in offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s first season, averaging 156.5 yards per game.

Investing in the running back position for a team that relies so heavily on its ground game obviously wouldn’t be a difficult decision if the Ravens, coming off a 13-4 regular season and a berth in the AFC championship, were awash in cap space and running back was one of their precious few needs.

That, however, is not Baltimore’s reality. It has more than 20 unrestricted free agents — many were key players in 2023 — and has roughly $12 million of salary-cap space to use in retaining players and making outside additions. DeCosta and company have several ways to create cap space, including roster cuts, but the savings and then some will be needed if they have to use the $22 million franchise tag on defensive tackle Justin Madubuike by Tuesday’s deadline. A Madubuike extension would eat into that space as well.

The stated priority of the Ravens’ decision-makers is to solidify the offensive line, and that won’t be cheap. They also need to add at wide receiver, edge rusher and cornerback. Depth at interior defensive line, inside linebacker and safety feels like a necessity, too. Paying $10-to-$12 million a year, if not more, for a running back simply may not fit in Baltimore’s budget.

10 Observations From the 2024 NFL Combine

Ben Solak, The Ringer

This is the year to get a nickel corner.

But even beyond [Mike] Sainristil, there are some great prospects. Rutgers corner Max Melton, brother of Packers wide receiver Bo Melton, rose over the course of a strong Senior Bowl week and rose again in Indianapolis, where he ran a sub 4.4-second 40-yard dash and jumped over 40 inches. Kentucky’s Andru Phillips hasn’t started much and played primarily on the outside, but his traits translate better to the interior, where his toughness and explosiveness would be welcome. Both Florida State corners, Renardo Green and Jarrian Jones, might be better suited on the interior, as may be the case for Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw Jr., currently viewed as a late first-round prospect.

Overrated and underrated.


West Virginia OL Zach Frazier

Michigan LB Junior Colson

Western Michigan edge Marshawn Kneeland

USC RB MarShawn Lloyd


Oregon WR Troy Franklin

Penn State edge Chop Robinson

Clemson CB Nate Wiggins

Oklahoma OT Tyler Guyton

DeCosta: Ravens look beyond on-field performance with NFL Draft

Todd Karpovich, Baltimore Sports

While general manager Eric DeCosta will focus on the blue-chip prospects, numerous other factors will determine who the Ravens select in the draft. DeCosta has developed his philosophy on what he values in a prospect, and it goes beyond how they perform on the field.

“I think integrity is important to me. Passion for the game is important to me,” DeCosta said. “Work ethic, dependability, growth mindset, grit – all those things – factor in. It’s something that we really kind of focus on. I mean, anyone can watch tape and assess how good a player can catch a football or bend his knees or make a tackle in space or block somebody.”

“To me, the secret sauce is really knowing the person behind the tape, the personality of the player, [and] how he carries himself day to day,” DeCosta said. “What’s he going to do every day in the offseason? How is he going to carry himself on the field, in the community? All those kinds of things are critically important. And really, I think, those are probably as important – those factors – as how a guy plays the game.”

Ravens News 3/5: Secret Sauce (2024)
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