Do you remember the days when we had Terrell Suggs (among others)? We didn’t really have to worry as much about which Ravens free agency targets were going to fix our pass rush.
Now we are about to lose the majority of the OLBs on our roster. Our edge rush will be nonexistent. In fact, the only player we will have (if we don’t resign anyone) is Jaylon Ferguson. No offense Jaylon, because I do think you have some potential, but we need more.
One bright spot is that Pernell McPhee did say that he wants to return to Baltimore. That is great news because he adds a veteran voice to our defense. I see him as more of a depth player, but he really provides a lot to our defense. He was a beast against the Titans in the playoffs. He led the team in tackles.
But that isn’t enough either. I would love to believe we will at least resign Tyus Bowser, who I believe has a very bright future. Younger linebackers can be expensive to keep, though. Some people are saying he could command $10 million a year. Hopefully, we can keep him for less because he hasn’t started but two games in his career.
As far as Matt Judon goes, he is estimated to be worth about $15.6 million a year. Yannick Ngakoue didn’t have that great of a season in Baltimore as an edge rusher, but he will probably command around the same kind of money. I don’t see us franchise tagging either one, but I imagine it would probably be Yannick if we do. I only say that because Matt Judon already had one, he is kind of stirring up drama, and we gave up draft capital for Yannick in the trade. Personally, I don’t want either for the kind of money they want. Furthermore, Matt Judon is no longer conducting himself like a Raven.
Let’s take a look at some possible OLB/Edge rusher that the Ravens should target.
What are some OLB options for the Ravens in free agency?
We do have limited cap space, but most teams do this offseason. I am sure that will affect the salaries some players are able to get. There will be many one-year-prove-it-type deals this offseason. The Ravens have always been that type of team, even before the pandemic, to offer those one-year-prove-it deals.
Before resigning any ERFAs, RFAs, or UFAs, Spotrac estimates that the Ravens will have around $26 million in cap space. That is assuming we end up with $185 league cap space, though. Right now it is looking like it will be $180 million. So, let’s assume $21 million. That’s not a lot to work with, but we could restructure, extend, or terminate contracts to create more space. Let’s keep all of that in mind with this list.
These Ravens free agency targets are in no particular order of who I’d rather have, by the way.
#1. Melvin Ingram
I said this in a previous article, Melvin Ingram would boost the Ravens pass rush. I know some people don’t trust it because of health concerns. He only started 7 games last season. But the 5 years before that, he was putting up very similar numbers to Matt Judon. If he is healthy, he can do that. I also believe he would come at a far cheaper price than Judon. Technically, he is a defensive end, but he can play linebacker in a 3-4 system.
It is always a gamble to sign a player who came off an injury, but sometimes that gamble will pay off. It can save you money and potentially fill a void. We cannot afford to be without a solid pass rusher. A veteran like Ingram would be a much-needed boost to the Ravens pass rush.
#2. Justin Houston
In this century, Justin Houston is #5 on the NFL sacks active leaderboard. Even at 32, he is playing at a higher level than our current edge rushers. He had 8 sacks in 2020 and 11 in 2019. This would be an ideal pick-up for the Ravens.
He is getting older, so he won’t command a huge contract. But he is still producing. I think the Ravens could sign Houston at a reasonable price. He could definitely fill that pass rush void. Honestly, he might even get more sacks than both Yannick and Matt Judon had last season.
#3. Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney should actually be a Raven right now. We know at one point the Ravens were interested. And yes, he has struggled the past couple years to get sacks. But I don’t think jumping from team to team has helped. I believe in the right system Clowney could still be a good pass rusher. I also think because he has a couple rough seasons, that he wouldn’t be too pricey.
#4. Carl Lawson
Carl Lawson would be a great signing, but he may cost a little bit more. That is because he is younger, but according to Spotrac, he could be acquired for a little under $9 million a year. At only 25 years old, I think this would be a solid pickup for the Ravens.
He hasn’t put up the best sack numbers, but 20 sacks in 4 years is still solid. And he does get a lot of QB hits. I think this is a player with a lot of potential, who needs the right coaching.
#5. Markus Golden
Markus Golden actually played for both the Cardinals and the Giants last season. He would provide great depth for the Ravens at a pretty low price (think $4 million or less). Golden has had a couple of 10 plus sack seasons. I am not saying he would get back to that, but I honestly think for the price that he would be a solid bargain signing.
Update: Markus Golden signed with the Arizona Cardinals
I know some people would prefer to be able to keep all of our own players, so we could just focus on getting better on the offensive line and in the passing game. Or signing someone like Shaquil Barrett. But I just don’t see either of those things happening. If I had to make a prediction, I honestly see the Ravens resigning McPhee, Ward, and Bowser. Then either signing a bargain guy like Golden, a veteran like Houston, or taking care of it in the draft.
But whatever players end up being the Ravens free agency targets, I am just as excited as you are to find out what they really do!
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