By: Jeffrey Mansour
In a wild 2021 season, the Baltimore Ravens’ surprisingly strong start was followed by an astonishing six-game losing streak. The team finished the campaign with its first losing record since 2015 and its first playoff absence since 2017. With a disappointing season in the rearview mirror, the team will look to return to playoff form in 2022; a successful offseason will be necessary to do so.
Protecting star quarterback Lamar Jackson, who missed the latter third of the 2021 season with an ankle sprain, likely sits near the top of Baltimore’s offseason goals. The offensive line was second only to that of the Bears in sacks allowed, letting Ravens quarterbacks hit the turf 57 times in 2021. The absence of former all-pro tackle Ronnie Stanley likely contributed to the unit’s subpar performance, and offseason acquisition Alejandro Villanueva failed to live up to expectations. With the 33-year-old’s retirement on March 9, the Ravens will certainly be in the market for a replacement. Well-known free agent tackles Terron Armstead, Trent Brown and Eric Fisher could be players to watch for Baltimore.
Though the Ravens have struggled to maintain good pass catchers for years, this likely won’t be as much of a priority for the team as other positions. Wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews put up career numbers in 2021, and Baltimore hopes to further develop 2021 first-round wideout Rashod Bateman. However, some fans feel a receiver is still a worthy investment for the team.
“Allen Robinson may be coming off his worst season, but he doesn’t lack the talent,” Mt. Hebron junior and Ravens fan Akhil Karumuri said. “He could thrive with a quarterback like Jackson.”
Robinson, whom the Chicago Bears declined to franchise tag before the March 8 deadline, will likely attract significant interest from multiple teams this offseason.
Ravens fullback Patrick Ricard, a Pro Bowler each of the last three years, is likely a primary re-sign for Baltimore.
“He is easily one of the best fullbacks in the NFL,” Mt. Hebron junior Srijan Adhikary said. “He plays a key role in that Ravens offense.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Baltimore struggled uncharacteristically in 2021, likely contributing to the firing of defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. Though the unit sat atop the league in rushing yards allowed per game (84.5), they were on the complete opposite end of the spectrum in average passing yards allowed (278.9) and finished bottom 10 in sacks.
Baltimore’s defensive backs did not live up to expectations in 2021. The season-ending injuries of starters Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and DeShon Elliott were major contributors to this, but given the potential departure of Elliott, the Ravens will likely be in the market for secondary improvements this year.
“It would probably be expensive to acquire a player like Tyrann Mathieu, but a physical safety like him would make a great addition,” Karumuri commented. Other free-agent safeties, including Marcus Maye, Quandre Diggs and Marcus Williams, could be top targets for Baltimore.
Though the team’s front seven excelled at stopping the run, getting to the quarterback on passing downs was a struggle for the Ravens. The development of 2021 first-round pick Odafe Oweh will likely aid the unit next season, but an edge rusher is certainly among the team’s top offseason targets. Players such as Von Miller, Chandler Jones and Jason Pierre-Paul could be pass rushers the team will go after in free agency.
The Ravens certainly have holes to fill this offseason, and with plenty of free agents hitting the market, it will be interesting to watch as players are shipped all over the league. With the start of the new league year on March 16, Ravens fans will watch as the front office attempts to best set up the team for success in 2022.