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Late for Work: Derrick Henry Addition Gives Ravens the Most Improved Rushing Attack This Offseason

RB Derrick Henry
RB Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry Addition Gives Ravens the Most Improved Rushing Attack This Offseason

A bunch of big-name running backs found new homes during the first week of free agency, but no team improved its running game more than the Ravens with their acquisition of Derrick Henry, according to Pro Football Focus’s John Kosko.

Kosko named the most improved position groups in free agency thus far, and he gave the nod to the Ravens at running back. That's saying something, since the Ravens had the No. 1 rushing attack in the league last season.

"King Henry has entered the AFC North: a division known for smash-mouth, run-it-down-your-throat offenses," Kosko wrote. "If the Ravens weren't already terrifying enough with Lamar Jackson threatening to run it at any moment, now defenses will have to contend with one of the best bulldozers of the past decade in Derrick Henry. And when he needs a blow, the electrifying Keaton Mitchell is there to back him up.

"Henry was successful running behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL in 2023, as he was only afforded 1.0 yards before contact per rush attempt. The Ravens enjoyed 1.6 yards before first contact. The NFL is often a game of inches and now Henry gets quite a few more of those to pick up a head of steam."

PFF’s Dalton Wasserman said the Ravens have "created a backfield that is an opposing defense's worst nightmare."

"Lamar Jackson is arguably the most dynamic runner we've ever seen at quarterback. Derrick Henry is likely a future Hall of Famer after carrying the Tennessee Titans on his back for eight seasons. Now, they join forces as Henry looks to prove he still has plenty in the tank entering his 30s," Wasserman wrote. "If 2023 is any indication, Henry will be just fine. He finished the year with an 86.8 rushing grade, ranking sixth, and led the league in yards after contact during the regular season despite the struggles of Tennessee's offensive line. Henry figures to fit in seamlessly and shouldn't have to bear the entire load once Keaton Mitchell returns from his knee injury."

Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin ranked the Ravens' signing of Henry at No. 5 on his list of the top 10 offseason moves to this point.

"Turns out paying decent money to a 30-year-old workhorse running back can be good in the year 2024," Benjamin wrote. "Henry may be older, but his supersized frame has enabled him to outlast peers as a pile-pushing, chain-moving featured back, and his job should only get easier in Baltimore next to the electric Lamar Jackson. The fit feels absolutely seamless."

Ravens Praised for Deliberate Approach in Free Agency

While other teams have been wheeling and dealing and signing free agents at a frenzied pace, it's been business as usual for the Ravens. The only outside free agent the Ravens have signed thus far is Henry. Their other free-agent signings this offseason have been their own players.

That's a good thing, by the way. History has shown that the Ravens' patient approach in the offseason works well for them.

When analyzing the Ravens' needs on a recent episode of “The Athletic Football Show,” Robert Mays and Nate Tice said it's virtually pointless to have that discussion at this point.

"The Ravens' team needs might feel a lot different on March 18 than they feel on Sept. 10," Mays said. "I think that's worth mentioning anytime you're going to talk about this team and how they're going to plug some of those holes."

Mays specifically noted the impact signings of outside linebackers Jadeveon Clowney and Justin Houston late in the offseason in recent years.

"I feel like I don't want to talk about them until training camp starts," Tice said.

It just serves as a reminder to Ravens fans not to fret about the team still having some holes to plug. As Executive Vice President and former General Manager Ozzie Newsome was fond of saying — and General Manager Eric DeCosta has echoed — they don't play games until September.

Morgan Moses Played With Torn Pec Last Season, Has Undergone Surgery

During right tackle Morgan Moses' introductory video conference with the New York Jets yesterday, the former Raven revealed that he played through a torn pec last season and underwent surgery six weeks ago.

Moses said he suffered the injury in Week 4. He ended up missing three games (Week 5, Weeks 9-10). Moses, 33, had not missed a game the previous eight seasons.

"I'm feeling great. I'm moving around, getting back in shape and things like that," Moses said. "Look forward to just getting around the guys and obviously doing the things that I need to do to get back on the field and prepare myself the way I need to. … I look forward to having two arms this year."

The 10-year veteran spent the past two seasons in Baltimore before being sent to the Jets along with a fourth-round pick in this year's draft (No. 135) in exchange for fourth- and sixth-round picks, reported to be No. 113 and 218. Moses had a base salary of $5.5 million that will now be off the Ravens' salary cap, per Over the Cap. He was due to have a $6.96 million salary-cap hit.

The Ravens are in the process of rebuilding their offensive line. In addition to trading Moses, Baltimore did not re-sign free-agent guards Kevin Zeitler (Detroit Lions) and John Simpson (Jets).

Simpson, who also spoke with the Jets media yesterday, said he felt he blossomed in his one season with the Ravens last year after not feeling wanted during his time with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Ravens Select Arizona OL in The Athletic's Latest Beat Writer Mock Draft

The Athletic conducted its second beat writer mock draft. Jeff Zrebiec stuck with his original pick for the Ravens at No. 30, Arizona offensive lineman Jordan Morgan.

"[The Athletic draft analyst Dane] Brugler has Morgan as his No. 32-ranked player, so it's not like taking him here is a huge reach. However, it does feel a bit like the Ravens prioritized need over 'best player available,' which they traditionally don't do," Zrebiec wrote. "That's what happens, though, when you have to replace three starters up front and don't necessarily have the salary cap space to do it in free agency. That's also what happens when you try and trade out of the first round, but there are no suitors.

"Morgan could immediately plug in at right tackle, replacing Morgan Moses, who was traded to the Jets. He also played a lot of left tackle at Arizona, so he'd be an option to shift to Lamar Jackson's blind side if Ronnie Stanley departs after the 2024 season."

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