One Bold Offseason Move the Ravens Could Make
The start of the new league year begins after the Super Bowl and there's plenty of anticipation surrounding the Ravens heading into the offseason.
How will General Manager Eric DeCosta and the front office operate with a soon-to-be MVP quarterback and more cap space than usual?
Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton made his boldest roster move predictions, and foresees the Ravens acquiring Washington Redskins edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan.
"Assuming the Cincinnati Bengals select quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick, the Washington Redskins will have an opportunity to take defensive end Chase Young at No. 2," Moton wrote. "If that's the case, the Ohio State product would likely line up opposite Montez Sweat – a 2019 first-rounder.
"Washington would have two long-term assets at defensive end, so Ryan Kerrigan may become expendable on the final year of his deal."
Yesterday, we highlighted some of the dream free agents for the Ravens. Kerrigan wasn't on the list, but he fills an obvious need.
At 31-years-old, Kerrigan enters the final year of his contract with the Redskins. Coming off three straight seasons with double-digit sacks, Kerrigan totaled 5.5 in 12 games in 2019.
"As a playoff team with specific needs, Baltimore should pursue veterans who could provide an immediate impact in sizable roles," Moton added. "Kerrigan is one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league. Since his 2011 rookie term, he's logged 90 sacks, which ranks fourth among all players."
The Ravens were linked to Kerrigan before the trade deadline last season, but Owner Dan Snyder didn't move any of the team's top assets.
With a new head coach and a new regime, anything is possible. It's a move that could help bolster the Ravens' pass rush no matter what they decide to do with Matthew Judon.
Lamar Jackson Has Graduated to Stardom
Analysts usually look at the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 as one of the biggest development periods for young quarterbacks. For Lamar Jackson, it wasn't a jump. It was a leap.
Jackson exploded onto the scene this season. He threw for over 3,000 yards, set the single-season quarterback rushing record, and provided internet-breaking plays on a weekly basis.
It's safe to say he's established himself among the league's brightest stars, and ESPN's Dan Graziano listed Jackson as one of the 10 players who have graduated to stardom.
Who Jackson was: "A 2018 first-round pick who'd taken over for Joe Flacco midway through his rookie season and led the Ravens to a 6-1 record and a division title, but who'd flopped against the Chargers in the playoffs, was frightfully fumble-prone and, quite honestly, was getting a lot more attention for his running ability than his passing ability," Graziano wrote.
Who Jackson is: "The presumptive winner of the 2019 MVP award and the league's most breathtaking player this side of Kansas City," Graziano wrote. "Jackson's running, passing and leadership abilities combined to make him the breakout quarterback star of the season and a model of the kind of quarterback teams will look to build their offenses around in the future. Of course, they'll have to find one as good and fast as Jackson is in order for that to work."
NFL.com's Marc Sessler also sees Jackson as a star talent. Jackson and running back Mark Ingram II were two players Sessler wants to see win a Super Bowl.
"All autumn, Baltimore's starry roster felt destined for glittering Miami – not landlocked Orlando," Sessler wrote. "Unfinished business to say the least, but the Ravens are set up for future success with Jackson and Ingram set to partner again in 2020. With pass-catching tight end Mark Andrews back as well, Greg Roman's blistering ground attack should pick up where it left off come September. Super Bowl Week just won't be the same without Ingram spinning his brand of poetry and verbal jabs -- but there's still time for this Ravens squad to write history."
Baltimore is Terrell Suggs' 'First Love'
I'd be lying if I told you watching Terrell Suggs in a Kansas City Chiefs jersey isn't weird.
After spending 16 years in Baltimore, the long-time Raven will have a chance at his second Lombardi Trophy on Sunday, this time sporting a different uniform.
"Six weeks ago, Suggs was playing out the string for a last-place team and his former team was the clear Super Bowl favorite," WNST's Luke Jones wrote. "The 37-year-old being the one to play for an NFL championship next week is your latest reminder that sports are weird sometimes."
Suggs was released by the Arizona Cardinals late in the regular season and claimed by the Chiefs on waivers shortly after. He reportedly expressed a desire to reunite with the Ravens, but it never was a realistic option.
Suggs told Newsday's Bob Glauber he's "at peace" with how things turned out.
"It's part of the game," Suggs said. "I'm not the first player that's ever gone on waivers. You just have to take it as it comes. I said it then, and I'll say it now, I thank the Cardinals for the opportunity. I just wish I could have been more help. I'm fortunate to get picked up by a team that had tremendous momentum and was already rolling."
The former first-round pick is the franchise's all-time sack leader, and a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame when his career is over. He's part of the black and purple by nature, and Suggs always has a place in his heart for Baltimore.
"You're always going to have feelings for your first love," he said. "There's always going to be something there. It's your first love."
Ravens Ranked Among the Top 15 Most Productive Rookie Draft Classes in 2019
It didn't take long for DeCosta's first draft class to start paying dividends. The Ravens' eight player draft class was ranked among the top 15 (No. 14) most productive rookie classes in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.
"Surprise, surprise — another rookie wide receiver who looks like he's going to be an impact player in this league," PFF wrote. "As the first receiver off the board, Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown was a dynamic playmaker and the Ravens also got strong play from an undrafted free agent in center Patrick Mekari that helps their cause."
Brown finished as the team's second-leading receiver with 584 yards and seven touchdowns. It was an impressive feat coming off a Lisfranc foot injury that held him under 100 percent all season. Brown capped his rookie season with the best performance of his young career, catching seven passes for 126 yards against the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the playoffs.
"No wide receiver with 50 or more targets had a higher passer rating when targeted than Brown's 134.4," PFF wrote.
PFF's best value pick for Baltimore wasn't even a player selected on draft night. The Ravens' knack for finding undrafted gems paid off again as Mekari stepped in for an injured Matt Skura at center and helped maintain one of the league's top offensive lines.
Along with Brown, the Ravens also saw production from their other top picks. Miles Boykin totaled 198 receiving yards and three touchdowns while serving as a key blocker. Justice Hill came on late in the season as a change-of-pace back and found the end zone twice. Jaylon Ferguson notched 31 tackles and 2.5 sacks, playing a crucial role as an edge defender.