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Late for Work 6/22: Evaluating Contract Extension Candidates J.K. Dobbins, Patrick Queen, Kevin Zeitler

RB J.K. Dobbins
RB J.K. Dobbins

Evaluating Contract Extension Candidates J.K. Dobbins, Patrick Queen, Kevin Zeitler

The Ravens have a number of decisions to make regarding which players they intend to sign to contract extensions.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec looked at six extension candidates. Here's his analysis for three prominent names:

RB J.K. Dobbins

Why an extension makes sense: "A healthy Dobbins has proven to be a difference-maker for the Ravens. … If Dobbins has a big year, and the potential is there if the Ravens commit to getting him a representative number of touches for a lead back, he'll be much more expensive next offseason. Dobbins, who didn't participate in the team's mandatory minicamp and has talked (or tweeted) about his uncertain future in Baltimore, has made it known that he'd like his contract addressed. The team's other top back, Gus Edwards, is also a pending free agent. Losing them both would make running back a major need next offseason."

Why it may not: "Giving second contracts to running backs hasn't always been a great proposition, given the volatility at the position. The availability of quality running backs every offseason, both in the draft and free agency, annually exceeds the demand, which is why many NFL teams choose not to invest major assets in the position. Dobbins has missed 27 games over his first three NFL seasons, and his ability to stay healthy is a question mark going forward. Dobbins also has to prove he's fully back from his knee injury. He acknowledged several times last year that he had yet to discover that final gear."

The bottom line: "The Ravens may be willing to do a short-term extension with Dobbins. But it's very hard to imagine, even in a market extremely unfriendly to running backs at the moment, that the 24-year-old would be interested in such a deal. It seems the likely scenario is Dobbins betting on himself and showing the Ravens and the rest of the league that he's worthy of being paid like a top back."

LB Patrick Queen

Why an extension makes sense: "While the Ravens declined his fifth-year option earlier this offseason, [General Manager Eric] DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh made clear to Queen that they view him as a valuable member of the team and are still interested in him being around going forward. The Ravens don't give up on their first-round picks easily, and Queen, despite some inconsistencies, has been a durable and productive player whose speed impacts games."

Why it may not: "A little more than five months ago, the Ravens made [Roquan] Smith the highest-paid off-ball linebacker in football. It would be extremely difficult and perhaps prohibitive in building a deep and diverse roster to pay big bucks to another inside linebacker. …They have a potential Queen replacement already on the roster in third-round rookie Trenton Simpson."

The bottom line: "You can't dismiss the possibility that Queen could return beyond 2023. He has a lot of fans at the team facility, and if he continues his ascension that accelerated with Smith's arrival, he could make it tough for the Ravens to walk away. However, any extension would probably require Queen to be willing to accept a deal that wouldn't pay him anywhere close to the top of the inside linebacker market, which starts at C.J. Mosley's $17 million per year and ends at Smith's $20 million annually."

G Kevin Zeitler

Why an extension makes sense: "Zeitler has proven to be one of the better free-agent signings in team history. He's been extremely effective and durable, and he's a guy who younger teammates look up to in the locker room. As the 19th-highest-paid guard in football on a per-year basis, Zeitler has proven to be a good bargain as well. The Ravens already have some uncertainty at left guard heading into the season, and it isn't clear whether there's a worthy successor to Zeitler at right guard currently on the roster."

Why it may not: "Zeitler turned 33 earlier this year and has logged a ton of snaps over 11 NFL seasons. He keeps himself in very good shape, but it isn't easy battling big and explosive defensive linemen while in your mid-30s. At some point, all of those battles figure to take a toll on Zeitler. The Ravens have shown a willingness to use mid-round picks on guards, drafting and developing them rather than investing a lot of money in the position."

The bottom line: "It's hard to argue against the fact that Zeitler has earned a contract extension. It isn't clear what his asking price is, and his age would certainly have to be considered, but it's hard to imagine that two sides with much respect for each other couldn't find common ground here, at least on a short-term extension."

Ravens 'Are Going to Be a Nightmare for Everybody'

"Bootleg Football" podcast hosts Brett Kollman and E.J. Snyder took an in-depth look at the 2023 Ravens, and they believe the team is being slept on as a Super Bowl contender.

"If Lamar Jackson stays healthy, this should be a team that contends not just for the division, but also for the Super Bowl," Kollman said.

The hosts set the Ravens' ceiling at 13 wins, with their floor being eight or nine wins. They see the latter occurring only if the team suffers injuries to major players such as Jackson.

"This is going to be a double-digit-win team, they're going to be a playoff team, and they are going to be a nightmare for everybody," Kollman said.

Kollman and Snyder noted that the Ravens have an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball. They expect big things from a revamped wide receiver group that features the additions of veterans Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor and first-round pick Zay Flowers, as well as the return of Rashod Bateman.

"This is the best Ravens receiving corps [in franchise history]," Snyder said.

Kollman and Snyder also were highly complementary of the coaching staff, specifically Harbaugh, new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken, and Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald.

Ravens' Triplets Ranked Eighth for Second Straight Year

CBS’s football staff ranked every team's triplets (quarterback-running back-wide receiver/tight end trio), and the Ravens (Jackson-Dobbins-tight end Mark Andrews) landed at No. 8.

"Baltimore is the only team to check in with the exact same ranking as it did last year," Jared Dubin wrote. "It helps that we're using the exact same three players, even if the Ravens have changed out a lot of the pieces surrounding them — including the offensive coordinator. Jackson was on track to rediscover top form last season before injuries hit both him and the receiving corps, but the Ravens are clearly hoping Todd Monken can open things up for him and help find avenues to more explosive plays through the air."

If all three players stay healthy, they could end up being one the league's elite trios.

Rashod Bateman Named Ravens' Top Breakout Candidate

Several Ravens appear poised for a breakout season, but Ebony Bird’s Parker Hurley has Bateman at the top of the list.

"The last time we saw him, he made big-time catches and added an explosive element to the Ravens' passing game," Hurley wrote. "Now, he has Todd Monken as his offensive coordinator, which will make things more pass friendly. When defenses shift attention to Flowers and Beckham, life will only get easier for Bateman, who was always the No. 1 wide receiver target every snap he played throughout his NFL career."

The key for Bateman, obviously, is staying healthy. The 2021 first-round pick has missed 16 games over two seasons.

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