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Late for Work 1/31: Four Key Roster Decisions That May Be Flying Under the Radar

WR Devin Duvernay
WR Devin Duvernay

Four Key Roster Decisions That May Be Flying Under the Radar

The Ravens have no shortage of difficult personnel decisions to make this offseason.

Obviously, resolving Lamar Jackson's contract status is at the top of the list. It's also been well-documented that players such as cornerback Marcus Peters, guard Ben Powers, and outside linebacker Justin Houston are pending free agents and defensive lineman Calais Campbell (if he doesn't retire) and safety Chuck Clark are potential cap casualties.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec noted that there are other key players the Ravens will have to make decisions on. Here's a look at four of them:

WR/RS Devin Duvernay

"It may seem odd to include Duvernay, a 2020 third-round pick who is entering the final year of his rookie deal, but his 2023 cap number is $4.5 million. That's a big number for a guy who will probably be the No. 3 or 4 receiver if the Ravens make the necessary upgrades at the position. Obviously, Duvernay brings value as a returner and the Ravens probably aren't in a position to subtract offensive playmakers. Perhaps, an extension that lowers his 2023 cap number would make sense."

RB Gus Edwards

"In a perfect world, the Ravens would have a one-two punch in the backfield of J.K. Dobbins and Edwards and both would be fully healthy again. However, Edwards carries a $5.6 million salary-cap hit in 2023, the last year of his contract, and that's significant for a running back who profiles as a No. 2. Cutting him would create $4.4 million in cap savings. That sum will be hard to ignore for a Ravens team that will need all the cap flexibility it can get. One option could be a one- or two-year extension that lowers his cap number in 2023."

NT Michael Pierce

"The good sentiment surrounding Pierce's return to the Ravens lasted all of two games before the big defensive tackle sustained a season-ending torn biceps in Week 3. Pierce is a force when he is on the field, but that just hasn't happened often enough in recent years. Since first leaving Baltimore following the 2019 season, Pierce has played just 11 games in three years. Releasing him would trigger only $2.1 million of cap savings, compared to $5.9 million of dead money, but the Ravens have to be wary of Pierce's availability. Baltimore also has a potential replacement for Pierce on the roster in 2022 third-round pick Travis Jones."

RG Kevin Zeitler

"With guard Ben Powers seemingly likely to leave in free agency, the Ravens won't want to replace both of their starting guards. Zeitler has also been one of their steadiest players over the past two years. Zeitler, though, will turn 33 in March and has a $9.5 million salary-cap hit entering the final year of his deal. He has never mentioned publicly that he's considering retirement, but the first order of business will be making sure he wants to return for a 12th NFL season. Then, the Ravens may have to see whether a deal can be made to lower his cap number."

CBS Sports Analyzes Ravens' Chances of Making a Super Bowl Run Next Season

With the Super Bowl matchup set, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin ranked the 12 eliminated playoff teams' chances of reaching next year's Super Bowl. The Ravens came in at No. 5.

"This is mostly predicated on Lamar Jackson returning, of course, and that may well not be a given depending on how contract talks unfold ahead of free agency," Benjamin wrote. "Even then, there are concerns: Jackson has not stayed healthy for two straight seasons, and he's yet to prove himself as a steady passer under the playoff lights. But his sheer electricity, coupled with John Harbaugh's experience up top and the returning punch of a Roquan Smith-led 'D,' suggests they can be a force if they're at full speed."

The top three teams in Benjamin's rankings all reside in the AFC: the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Put it this way: even another wave of offensive-line issues didn't severely damage [Joe Burrow's] chances of vying for a trophy, so if they can finally assemble a sturdier front, and presumably have Ja'Marr Chase healthier for the course of a full season, they should remain in control atop the AFC North," Benjamin wrote of the Bengals. "With Lou Anarumo poised to stay in charge of the 'D,' there's also no reason to believe Cincy will face a drastic drop-off there, even with inevitable personnel changes."

Anarumo is reportedly set to interview for the Arizona Cardinals' head coaching position, by the way.

Is It a Down Year at Wide Receiver in the Draft?

Rebuilding the wide receivers room is a top offseason priority for the Ravens, which is why early mock drafts have Baltimore addressing the need in the first round.

Looking at the draft as a whole, however,’s Eric Edholm wrote: "On the surface, the talent pool [at wide receiver] doesn't appear to match up to recent draft offerings."

"We've been pretty spoiled, honestly," an AFC scouting director told Edholm. "Past few years have been a wealth of talent there, just one (class) after another. Every year, it felt like that was the strongest or one of the strongest positions. This year, [it's not at] the same level. Some good ones, but not a great group overall."

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