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Mailbag: Will the Ravens Still Bring Back Two Veterans?

OLB Justin Houston; CB Marcus Peters

Mink: I do expect the Ravens to sign a veteran edge rusher and it would not surprise me if that person is Justin Houston. After leading Baltimore with 9.5 sacks last season, Houston made it clear that he's not ready to retire. He's waited until the summer to sign each of the past two years and the fact that he's still sitting on the market tells me he's headed down the same path.

The Ravens are excited about the potential impact David Ojabo can make in Year 2, and he looks fantastic at football activities after going through the Ravens' strength and conditioning program. Baltimore also is looking for a Year 3 breakout from Odafe Oweh, similar to the jump Patrick Queen made last season. Tyus Bowser's production should rebound now that he's more removed from his Achilles surgery. Still, that leaves just three outside linebackers you can count on right now. Rookie fourth-round pick Tavius Robinson could be a rotational piece, but I wouldn't expect a large defensive role in Year 1. The Ravens need more depth and could use a more known commodity to get after quarterbacks.

I know Head Coach John Harbaugh said he wouldn't rule out the possibility of adding another veteran cornerback after signing Rock Ya-Sin, but I don't see it happening. Sure, Baltimore had Marcus Peters and Kyle Fuller last year. But the Ravens have more young depth that could step in now than last offseason. Jalyn Armour-Davis and Pepe Williams have a year under their belts and the Ravens like the potential of fifth-round rookie Kyu Blu Kelly. Baltimore also brought back veterans Daryl Worley and Kevon Seymour for depth. The Ravens' mantra is "you can never have too many corners," so they are never going to rule out bringing someone in, but as it stands now, I think a safety addition is more likely than corner.

Downing: My expectation is for Kyle Hamilton to be the starting strong safety alongside free safety Marcus Williams. The Ravens used the No. 14 pick on Hamilton last year and he has the talent to step into a more significant role on this defense. His versality is an asset, which he showed last season, but I think the Ravens like the idea of Hamilton playing more snaps in a consistent position. Hamilton played his best football at the end of last season, and the hope is for it to continue over into this year into a larger role. 

With Stephens, his versatility might also be his greatest strength. He can play every position in the defensive backfield, and that will help him find ways onto the field. My expectation is for Stephens to play more of the nickel role that Hamilton had last year. The Ravens liked the three safety looks they deployed last season, and they have the players to continue that trend again this season. Williams will also compete for snaps in the nickel spot. The nickel cornerback is an important role in today's game, and the Ravens will have a good competition for playing time at that spot.

Mink: First impressions are they are fast guys who love football. You definitely get a positive energy from both players just being around them. Flowers' suddenness and explosion pops out. It's easy to see why he's going to be a handful for NFL cornerbacks, just as he was in college. Simpson absolutely looks the part. This is a rocked-up, big dude who can cover a lot of ground. I think the assignment of "see ball, get ball" should serve him well as a rookie. The Ravens will look for ways to unleash the athletic linebacker in a variety of ways.

Downing: The Ravens have some great candidates for primetime games this year. Of course, any of the AFC North matchups could land in primetime, and the two games against Cincinnati are probably the headliners of the division matchups. Lamar Jackson vs. Joe Burrow is one of the best matchups of young quarterbacks in the NFL today, and the league likely wants to get that game in front of a big audience. The same could also be said for games against Justin Herbert and the Chargers, Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars, and Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins.

Given the fact that the Ravens are expected to be one of the league's best teams and Jackson just signed a contract making him the highest-paid player in NFL history, I expect the Ravens to see a heavy dose of primetime games. We already know they're playing a game in London in Week 6 against Tennessee, and while that's not a primetime matchup, it's broadcast to a national (and global) audience. I think the Ravens will have at least three primetime games when the schedule gets released Thursday night at 8 p.m. on NFL Network, and that number could increase over the course of the season when flex scheduling is put into place.

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