Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:
Although parting ways with players is a matter of routine for NFL teams, it's never fun and occasionally excruciating. The latter was surely the case when the Ravens said goodbye to Tavon Young, a classic, all-in Raven, undersized, feisty and destined not to look right in any other team's uniform.
Although Young's release was not a surprise, it significantly increases the likelihood that the Ravens will draft a cornerback with their first-round pick, or if not then, on Day 2. Young played 550 snaps (with injuries) in 2021, a significant load that needs to be replaced with a quality performer.
In the wake of Tom Brady's retirement and Russell Wilson getting traded, the AFC's echelon of top quarterbacks suddenly is markedly better than the NFC's. The AFC has Wilson, Mahomes, Allen, Jackson, Burrow, Herbert, Carr and Tannehill. The NFC has Rodgers, Stafford, Prescott, Ryan, Murray and Cousins. Not close, really.
Wilson, 33, has started 158 NFL games, but only one has been in Baltimore – he threw five touchdown passes in the Seahawks' win over the Ravens in 2015. The Ravens have to believe they'll fare better when he leads the Broncos into M&T Bank Stadium in 2022.
I'm seeing some weird Super Bowl odds after Aaron Rodgers signed and Wilson was traded. BetOnline has the Bills as favorites at 7-1, followed by the Packers and Chiefs at 8-1, the 49ers at 11-1, the Broncos and Rams at 12-1, and the Ravens, Bengals and Cowboys at 18-1. Yikes.
Alejandro Villanueva was past his prime with the Ravens in 2021, not a huge surprise given his age (33). But he deserves kudos for showing younger players how to be a good teammate, and for starting every game, an accomplishment that took on extra meaning in the Ravens' injury-plagued year.
Talk about a season of reunions. In 2022, the Ravens will face four defensive coordinators who are quite familiar. Wink Martindale (Giants) and Dean Pees (Falcons) had the DC job in Baltimore. Mike Caldwell (Jaguars) played for the Ravens in 1996. Leslie Frazier (Bills) coached Baltimore's secondary in 2016.
This year's salary cap cuts around the league are especially tantalizing with linebackers Bobby Wagner and Jordan Hicks and guard Rodger Saffold among the players suddenly and surprisingly available. The Ravens don't have the salary cap room for many swings but I'm sure they're kicking a lot of tires.
Remember, with their swings limited in free agency, it's pretty much imperative that the Ravens fill key needs with whatever moves they make. I'm sticking with ranking the offensive line as their top need, followed by the defensive line, secondary and pass rush in a tie for second.
They're focusing more on themselves, of course, but I'm sure the Ravens are following the Steelers' search for a starting quarterback. With acquiring Wilson out, Pittsburgh's options include trading for Jimmy Garoppolo or Jordan Love, drafting a quarterback in the first round, going with Mason Rudolph or, well, something else.