The Ravens defense ranked 20th against the run last year, below the team’s standards and contrary to its mantra that stopping the run is top priority.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome said the team’s chief aim is to upgrade the middle of the defense, and that starts up front.
The Ravens could opt to add talent via the draft, where there is a deep pool of defensive linemen. They could instead, or also, supplement with a bargain free agent.
Here’s a look at some of the players on the market the Ravens may consider:
Ricky Jean Francois, San Francisco 49ers
Unrestricted (5th season), 26 years old, 6-foot-3, 295 pounds
The Ravens have “some interest” in Jean Francois, according to The Baltimore Sun. Jean Francois has been a backup throughout his career, but has flexibility to play multiple positions. He got two starts at defensive end and one at nose guard last year, compiling 22 tackles and a sack. The former seventh-round pick out of LSU has developed into a valuable run stopper.
Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders
Unrestricted (13th season), 33, 6-6, 317
The seven-time Pro Bowler is nearing the end of his playing days, but still has more in the tank. He missed eight games last season and notched just 15 tackles and three sacks. When healthy, he’s a versatile and knowledgeable lineman who could provide leadership to a young group.
Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans Saints
Unrestricted (6th season), 27, 6-1, 307
The former first-round pick never really panned out in New Orleans. He was a consistent starter, but he didn’t put up big numbers and notched just a half sack over the past two years. He flashed his potential with enough quickness to cause problems in the backfield. Ellis could use a change of systems.
Isaac Sopoaga, San Francisco 49ers
Unrestricted (10th season), 31, 6-2, 330
Strictly a nose tackle, Sopaga is often overlooked in the 49ers’ outstanding defensive front. His ability to eat blocks is what allowed linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman to compile tackles. Sopaga started nine games last year and made 27 tackles.
Terrance Knighton, Jacksonville Jaguars
Unrestricted (5th season), 26, 6-3, 330
He’s battled some weight issues over the years, but Knighton can be a force against the run when he’s in shape. He lost his starting job last year, starting just four of 16 games played. He still notched 32 tackles (two away from his career high), two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Other notable names:
- Justin Bannan, Denver Broncos
- Desmond Bryant, Oakland Raiders
- Chris Canty, New York Giants
- Dwan Edwards, Carolina Panthers
- Aubrayo Franklin, San Diego Chargers
- Kedric Golston, Washington Redskins
- Roy Miller, Tampa Bay Buccaneers