Sat, 04 Jul 2020

Late for Work 6/3: Pump the Brakes on More Offseason Splashes

Baltimore Ravens
04 Jun 2020, 05:25 GMT+10

Pump the Brakes on More Offseason Splashes

In recent months, we've discussed the possibility of the Ravens signing Jadaveon Clowney or trading for Jamal Adams.

While both would be exciting additions, it's really never made financial sense.

According to Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland, the Ravens will have just under $7 million in cap space after all the rookie draft picks are signed.

So if you're expecting any big moves to happen, it's time to pump the brakes.

"That should be enough cap space for the Ravens to make an additional veteran-minimum type signing or two, and for the team to have enough flexibility to make roster moves once the inevitable injuries hit during the season," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote.

"It also is a reminder that if you're waiting for the Ravens to make a splash signing or addition any time soon, it's probably time to move on. The Ravens would have to work out a long-term deal with [Matthew] Judon or [Ronnie] Stanley to have the space to make another significant roster addition."

Clowney reportedly turned down a deal from the Cleveland Browns worth $12 million a year in base salary, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. He's reportedly been looking for close to $20 million a year.

The Ravens were also reportedly one of the teams interested in trading for Adams, but reports said the New York Jets wanted a first-round pick and third-round pick. Similar to Clowney, Adams is also reportedly looking for an extension.

Neither move would make sense unless the Ravens extended Judon or Stanley, as Zrebiec noted.

The Ravens typically haven't been a team that makes splash signings late in the offseason anyway. They've built their success on drafting and developing talent, as well as finding value on the market. Trading a fifth-round pick for Calais Campbell this offseason is the perfect example.

"Getting him for a fifth-rounder is tantamount to grand theft," Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox wrote.

Ravens' Offense Could Be More Explosive

The Ravens were one of the most explosive offenses under Greg Roman last season, and pundits think they can be even more dangerous.

"Absolutely this offense will be more explosive, which is crazy because they were the most explosive offense last year," NFL Network's Shaun O'Hara said. "But do I think [Lamar Jackson] will be [Patrick] Mahomes? No, I think they're two different quarterbacks. ... This offense, I can't wait to see it."

Sportsnaut's Jesse Reed ranked the Ravens as the second-most explosive offense in the NFL behind the Kansas City Chiefs.

But what makes the Ravens just as dangerous is their balanced attack. They became the only team in NFL history to average 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards per game in a single season.

There's optimism from pundits because the Ravens have surrounded Jackson with a bulk of weapons.

"Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown is a budding star," Reed wrote. "Former Notre Dame star Miles Boykin has tremendous potential. Mark Andrews [is] capable of making huge plays downfield. Adding rookie Devin Duvernay out of Texas should lead to even more explosive plays in the passing game."

You can also add second-round pick J.K. Dobbins and others to that list.

With the talent the Ravens have on that side of the ball, their biggest challenge is getting over the playoff hump. NFL Network analyst and former Ravens' head coach Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick believes it starts with improvement in the passing game.

Jackson led the NFL in touchdown passes last season, but the offense averaged just 201.6 passing yards per game. Part of that is because they ran the ball so much and averaged so many rushing yards.

"Naturally, everything is going to come back to Jackson," Billick said. "Where they're focused right now, as brilliant of a year as he had and it was stunningly brilliant, I think they'd like to see more of a balance. First off, throwing outside of the numbers. They've talked about that. That's where there was, if there was one, an Achilles heel. That's where the incompletions came from. That's where the interceptions came from.

"The other thing is the amount of runs versus the passes. They're not going to inhibit him from running. Jackson has been brilliant. That's the Hallmark of what they were able to do. You run as much as you need to run."

Ravens 'Loved' Jalen Hurts During Pre-Draft Process

The Ravens didn't make any significant changes to their quarterback depth chart this offseason. The only new face they added was undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley.

But how close were they to adding a quarterback in the draft?

It was never a top need, but the Ravens reportedly expressed interest in former Alabama and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts.

"Baltimore loved Hurts, for instance," NBC Sports' Peter King wrote. "Not saying the Ravens would have taken him, particularly with Dobbins left on the board, but Baltimore wouldn't have been afraid to insert him in the offense six or eight plays a game to scare the crap out of the defense."

The Ravens reportedly did their due diligence on Hurts during the pre-draft process. Quarterbacks Coach James Urban attended Hurts' Pro Day and pundits saw him as a fit behind Jackson.

Hurts was drafted two picks ahead of the Ravens in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles. Baltimore eventually took Dobbins at No. 55.

Even without Hurts, Bleacher Report's Chris Roling ranked the Ravens as the third-best quarterback group.

"Baltimore also rosters former No. 2 pick Robert Griffin III, who fits the current attack schematically, never mind his droves of experience in the league to this point," Roling wrote. "Jackson is nearly impossible to replace, but it's hard to think of a better backup for the Roman-directed attack."

Interior Offensive Line Remains Biggest Question Mark

When discussing an explosive offense, its success is predicated on the players blocking up front.

Heading into the season, one of the Ravens' biggest question marks remains how the interior offensive line will shape up.

[I]f there's one situation that could be a little shaky, it's the torch-passing up the middle," Football Outsider's Rivers McCown wrote. "The Ravens spent a pair of mid-round picks there in third-rounder Tyre Phillips (Mississippi State) and fourth-rounder Ben Bredeson (Michigan). Those two will pair with Matt Skura, Patrick Mekari, and 2019 fourth-rounder Ben Powers to try to fill the shoes of Marshal Yanda at right guard and put an above-average center out there. As good as Baltimore's run game was last year, and as old as Yanda was, this is probably best regarded as a talent downgrade until proven otherwise."

Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. are locked in as the bookend tackles, but the other three positions are up for grabs.

The closest other "lock" would be Bradley Bozeman. He was quietly one of the Ravens' most consistent offensive linemen last season after winning the starting job at left guard. Bozeman played every offensive snap in the regular season, but pundits like Sports Illustrated's Todd Karpovich believe he could shift back to center.

Veteran free-agent addition D.J. Fluker is one of the favorites to replace Yanda given his experience, but he'll have competition.

We're still at the beginning of June, and players haven't even hit the field for team activities at this point. But the Ravens will have to figure out the best combination on the interior offensive line between a mix of young and veteran talent.

Quick Hits

ESPN's Rob Ninkovich said the best is yet to come for Andrews. "I feel like he is just scratching the surface with that combination of him and Lamar Jackson. I just feel like he is gonna be a very good tight end for years to come." [247Sports]

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