Mon, 12 Apr 2021

by Clifton Brown & Garrett Downing

Brown: The Ravens have several ways to strengthen both the wide receiver and offensive line positions, even with salary cap restrictions. Many teams face greater cap challenges than the Ravens, which puts them in position to make some moves, especially if they don't chase the top players on the free agent market.

This year's draft is deep at wide receiver, so grabbing one with the 27th pick is possible. Wide receivers being linked to Baltimore in mock drafts include Rashod Bateman of Minnesota, Terrace Marshall of LSU and Kadarius Toney of Florida.

The free agent wide receiver class is also deep. I don't expect the Ravens to land one of the top free agent wideouts like Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin or Kenny Golladay, and all of those guys may be given the franchise tag anyway. However, I could see the Ravens pursuing someone like Nelson Agholor, Marvin Jones or T.Y. Hilton - a veteran to assist Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and Mark Andrews as Lamar Jackson's primary targets. I'd like to see the Ravens add an established receiver to take pressure off Devin Duvernay, Miles Boykin and James Proche II as they continue to develop. Adding a veteran receiver would also give the Ravens more leeway to address another position in the first round.

In addressing the offensive line, I think this is an important year for the Ravens to draft a lineman who becomes a starter, either as a rookie or in the near future. Orlando Brown Jr.'s status in Baltimore is up in the air after he reportedly asked for a trade, and whether Bradley Bozeman stays at left guard or moves to center, the Ravens could use another talented interior offensive lineman. I would endorse signing a veteran guard or center in free agency who can step into the lineup right away. Even if they add a veteran, I look for the Ravens to draft an offensive lineman no later than Day 2.

Downing: This is an in-depth question right here! In terms of contract restructuring, I don't see that as a real option with defensive lineman Brandon Williams. He's entering the final year of his contract, so there isn't much to change with his deal. The only way to free up cap space by altering his deal would be to extend him, release him or get him to take a pay cut. Releasing him certainly carries risk because of how well he's played the last few years, and how much the Ravens have missed him when he's not on the field. The pay cut option could work, but he'd then have to agree with that, and it's hard to say whether he would. The other scenario here, and this one is more interesting, is if the Ravens extended his contract by another year or two, and then spread out his cap hit over the course of the contract. That's a way to create some more cap room and likely keep Williams in Baltimore for his entire career.

In terms of Ronnie Stanley and Marcus Peters, re-working their deals to create cap room is possible. They both have multiple years left on their contracts, so the Ravens could defer some of that payment and keep the guaranteed money the same. Now the Ravens just did Stanley's deal less than five months ago, so they may not want to alter that so soon, but it is the biggest contract they have on the books so it's the most likely to adjust in a cap-saving maneuver.

Brown: As I mentioned earlier, I'd like to see the Ravens add a veteran receiver. But I can't see either Odell Beckham Jr. or DeSean Jackson in Baltimore next season.

Let's start with Odell. Even if the Browns deal him, and I'm not sure they will, would they really trade him to the Ravens, a competitor in the AFC North? I don't ever see that happening. I read some comments from Browns General Manager Andrew Berry after the season, where he said that he likes dynamic players, and that Beckham is a dynamic player. I think the Browns are going to give Beckham another year to see if he can stay healthy and improve his chemistry with Baker Mayfield.

As for Jackson, he has played a total of eight games the past two seasons. He's 35 years old. He has always relied on his speed and explosiveness, and those skills are deteriorating. Jackson was an impact player in his day, but I think the Ravens have options to bring in a wide receiver who will be more productive than Jackson in 2021.

Downing: Lots of receiver questions this week - it's clearly the offseason in Baltimore. I think this is a good point, and it's something DeCosta alluded to this offseason when he talked about the fact that improving the passing game isn't solely about finding a "No. 1 wide receiver." Of course, any team would love to have Deandre Hopkins, Julio Jones or Davante Adams, but it doesn't look like any of those players will be available this offseason. Plus, it's critical to look at the full picture when building an offense and find a receiver that fits into the overall system designed around Jackson. Samuel is a versatile player could be a nice fit. Regardless of whether the Ravens pursue him, the point about finding a player to complement the pieces already in place is a good one.

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