Signing Jadeveon Clowney to Bolster Pass Rush a 'Coup' for Eric DeCosta
No player has been linked to the Ravens more in recent years than Jadeveon Clowney, and this time the three-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker signing with Baltimore came to fruition.
"The Clowney-to-Baltimore rumors had become a rite of the offseason," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "Finally, the timing — and more importantly, the price — was right."
The one-year deal for the 30-year-old Clowney reportedly is worth $2.5 million with incentives that could push it to $6 million. By comparison, the one-year deals for Yannick Ngakoue with the Chicago Bears and Justin Houston with the Carolina Panthers were reportedly worth $10 million and $6 million, respectively.
"They've both been more consistently productive and durable than Clowney. Still, getting a player with Clowney's ability at a fraction of the cost has to be considered a coup for General Manager Eric DeCosta," Zrebiec wrote.
Zrebiec noted that Clowney's signing doesn't mean the Ravens don't have confidence in young edge rushers Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo.
"It just leaves them less dependent on one, if not both of them, breaking out," Zrebiec wrote. "Wanting to give young players who you drafted early an opportunity to play front-line snaps makes sense. Not having other options if they don't take a step forward does not.
"Clowney doesn't need to fulfill any outside expectations from earlier in his career for the bet to pay off. All he needs to do is step forward at key moments, make steady contributions and fit in seamlessly in the locker room. That shouldn't be too much to ask."
Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed called the Clowney acquisition "another great move by Eric DeCosta to improve an already loaded roster."
"I love this signing for the Ravens because Clowney not only provides them with another seasoned veteran presence to their young edge depth chart, but he has the versatile skill set to line up and impact the game from multiple positions," Reed wrote. "He can play both the RUSH and SAM spot if needed as well as kick inside on sub packages and rush from the five-technique."
Ravens Wire’s Glenn Erby also believes Clowney and the Ravens are a good match.
"He can be elite when inspired, and John Harbaugh is the perfect head coach to help get the most out of the veteran pass rusher," Erby wrote.
Ravens Players With the Most at Stake in Tonight's Game
Zrebiec and The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker each identified Ravens players who have the most at stake in tonight's preseason game at the Washington Commanders. Here are some excerpts:
RB Melvin Gordon III
"It's not a lock that Baltimore keeps four running backs. It would be nearly impossible to keep five. Justice Hill got the first-team reps for most of camp and is a core special-teamer. It seems likely that three spots are set with J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Hill. If the Ravens take four, it will come down to Gordon and undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell. Gordon has had a nice camp and the Ravens love their veteran backs. However, Mitchell brings more speed and explosiveness and is being used extensively on special teams." — Zrebiec
OL John Simpson and Sala Aumavae-Laulu
"Simpson and Aumavae-Laulu are the two front-runners for the starting left guard job, with Aumavae-Laulu getting all the first-team reps there to start camp and Simpson getting his turn after that. Simpson got the start against the Eagles, continued to get first-team reps in practice and appears to have pulled ahead in the competition. Simpson, who came over from the Las Vegas Raiders at the end of last season, also brings experience with 35 career games, including 21 starts. He also got a few more snaps against the Eagles than Aumavae-Laulu, who Harbaugh said, 'did a nice job' in his first live NFL action." — Wacker
DB Ar'Darius Washington
"With Damarion Williams and Arthur Maulet both sidelined with injuries and Brandon Stephens being used extensively at outside corner out of necessity, Washington has emerged as the Ravens' top option in the slot. Maulet, though, figures to return soon. Rock Ya-Sin also is getting closer to a return and Ronald Darby's role should increase the more comfortable he gets. There are enough pieces returning where Washington will need to continue to play well to secure a spot and stay on the field. He's had a solid camp and has remained healthy, which he struggled to do over his first two seasons. It's going to be hard to take him off the field if he has a strong finish to the preseason." — Zrebiec
Bart Scott Predicts MVP Season for Lamar Jackson
Former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott thinks Baltimore's new-look offense will propel Lamar Jackson to his second league MVP award this season.
The additions of wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers, and Nelson Agholor have raised expectations for the passing attack, but Scott said they also will open things up for Jackson as a runner.
Scott believes Jackson is poised to be even more of a difference-maker than dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts was last season when he led the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance.
"Now he has space vertically and horizontally because he has vertical threats in Zay Flowers and Mark Andrews, route-runners in Odell Beckham and Rashod Bateman if he can stay healthy," Scott said on ESPN's "First Take." "So now you can't put eight men in a box and flat-foot it in case Lamar Jackson is going to run the football. So now he's going to be like Michael Vick, where they're covered, they're covered, and guys are doubling receivers down the field, and you're going to give Lamar Jackson, the most dangerous man in all of football, that much space to just run. It's not going to be designed runs, it's going to be improvised runs.
"Everything that Jalen Hurts did last year, I think Lamar Jackson will be able to do. The big difference is when Jalen Hurts got in the open field they were first downs. When Lamar Jackson gets in the open field they're going to be touchdowns."
Meanwhile, another former Raven and current ESPN analyst, Robert Griffin III, was at training camp practice on Saturday and came away impressed with what he saw on both sides of the ball.
Ravens All-Black Quarterback Room Believed to Be an NFL First
The Baltimore Banner's Kris Rhim noted the Ravens are believed to be the first team in NFL history to have an all-Black quarterback room, including players and coaches.
The group consists of quarterbacks Jackson, Tyler Huntley, Josh Johnson, and Anthony Brown, as well as Quarterbacks Coach Tee Martin and Assistant Quarterbacks Coach Kerry Dixon.
"The reality of it is, throughout NFL history, there have been relatively very few starting Black quarterbacks, and even fewer quarterbacks coaches," Jason Reid, the author of "Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America," told Rhim. "So what the Ravens have right now is definitely groundbreaking, even in 2023. The significance of it is that we are now in the era of the Black quarterback in the NFL."
Rhim wrote: "The group features a Black starting quarterback with a playing style once considered unsustainable and a historic $260 million contract extension. Backing him up are three Black quarterbacks who haven't been asked to switch positions. They are led by two Black coaches. The room represents progress for a league that had turned Black people away from football's most important position for decades because of racist stereotypes, and is a stark reminder of the Black players and coaches never given a chance."
The significance of the landmark is not lost on Martin, who was a quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000-2001.
"This is so cool, man. We've really come a long way," Martin said with a smile. "I think it's about us getting the opportunities, being in an organization that believes in us to put us in these positions to grow, and having a player like Lamar Jackson, who relates to us and us relating to him."
- The Ravens are No. 8 in ESPN’s latest power rankings.