Don't Be Surprised If Orlando Brown Jr. Is Still a Raven in 2021
The biggest story for the Ravens this offseason is what will happen with two-time Pro Bowl right tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
It began several weeks ago with Brown taking to Twitter to state his desire to play left tackle. It was subsequently reported that Brown, who played well at left tackle after All-Pro Ronnie Stanley suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 8, has received permission to seek a trade. The caveat, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, is that "Baltimore would need a major haul" to part with the 24-year-old.
While pundits have speculated about potential trade scenarios involving Brown, there is a growing sentiment that the most likely outcome is Brown remaining in Baltimore at right tackle next season.
"He's not going to be in Baltimore for long, but that doesn't mean he's leaving this offseason," The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer wrote. "I think the smart money is on Brown staying through the 2021 season, then leaving in free agency. Is that what Brown wants? No, but it's not an outcome the Ravens desire, either. Consider the opportunity cost here: If the Ravens trade Brown away, they are gambling that they can bolster their Super Bowl hopes, either this year or in the near future, by replacing one of the NFL's better right tackles (and maybe offensive tackles overall) with one or more assets.
"A trade would also undercut two of General Manager Eric DeCosta's organizational goals: building a strong offensive line and retaining homegrown stars. Which means the Ravens' trade demands could be especially unpalatable for suitors. … The Ravens need just one willing partner to make a deal, but that team will have to be more desperate to trade for Brown than DeCosta is to trade him away."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said the prevailing belief is it would take a first-round pick or two Day 2 picks for the Ravens to deal Brown.
"There are teams with varying levels of interest in Brown and the Ravens' stance remains unchanged," Zrebiec wrote. "If they get the value they are looking for, they'll move him. If they don't, Brown is going to have to prepare to play right tackle for them in 2021."
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker agreed with Shaffer that Brown will probably be a Raven next season.
"The Ravens plan to contend for a Super Bowl this year, and they're already facing uncertainty at center and right guard," Walker wrote. "Brown is more valuable to them than to many potential trade partners.
"If we get to August and the Ravens haven't received a blow-away offer, Brown won't have much leverage to force their hand, unless he's willing to sacrifice significant money and put his free-agent clock on hold. The guess here is that DeCosta will never receive the offer he can't refuse, and Brown will spend one more year in Baltimore before departing in free agency."
Zrebiec speculated that the Ravens might consider a scenario in which they swap first-round picks with a team picking earlier in the first round and then get an additional pick in return.
"For example, the Los Angeles Chargers, a team that has been rumored to have interest in Brown, is picking 13th overall. The Ravens are picking 27th," Zrebiec wrote. "According to a standard trade chart, the difference between those picks is 470 points. That's the equivalent of the 10th pick in the second round. So perhaps that swap, plus another pick, would intrigue the Ravens."
Top Three Free-Agent Wide Receivers Are Strong Candidates for Franchise Tag
As Ravens fans dream of landing one of the top three pending free-agent wide receivers (Allen Robinson II, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay), it's believed that all three are strong candidates to receive the franchise tag.
Even if any of them do hit the open market, it's debatable whether the Ravens could afford them given the team's needs at other positions.
"I'm skeptical that the Ravens would even be willing to spend in the $16 million to $18 million per year range to sign a top receiver as it is," Zrebiec wrote. "Beyond that, how many perceived 'No. 1 receivers' will even be available? The Ravens need to upgrade at receiver and find the best mix of pass catchers that they can. But as I've said or written quite a few times, finding that bona fide No. 1 this offseason is going to be extremely difficult.
"There's no reason, however, why the front office shouldn't be able to improve significantly at the position."
To Zrebiec's point, the Ravens could pursue a less expensive option in free agency such as Marvin Jones Jr. or T.Y. Hilton, or target a potential salary-cap cut such as Jamison Crowder or Alshon Jeffery (who reportedly will be released by the Philadelphia Eagles). There's also a deep receiver class in this year's draft.
Could Bradley Bozeman and DeShon Elliott Be in Line for Extensions?
Quarterback Lamar Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews and running back Gus Edwards are at the top of the list of Ravens who could receive contract extensions this offseason, but there are other candidates for extensions.
Among them are guard Bradley Bozeman and safety DeShon Elliott, Press Box's Bo Smolka wrote.
A 2018 sixth-round pick entering the final year of his rookie contract, Bozeman has started every game the past two seasons.
"The Ravens face a lot of uncertainty in the interior of their offensive line, with questions at center and at right guard," Smolka wrote. " … Bozeman had played center at Alabama, and he could be a candidate to shift from left guard to center if the Ravens find a guard in free agency or the draft.
"Regardless, Bozeman has shown to be a capable starter and is a known quantity on a line that — especially given Brown's situation — faces a lot of uncertainty. It doesn't hurt that he's also the Ravens' reigning NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for his civic contributions."
Elliott also is a 2018 sixth-round pick set to hit free agency next year. After suffering season-ending injuries his first two years in the league, Elliott started all 16 games for the Ravens last season and was named the team's most improved player by Pro Football Focus.
"The Ravens signed their other starting safety, Chuck Clark — like Elliott, a sixth-round pick — to a three-year, $15.3 million extension in 2020, although Clark by then had already established himself as a de facto defensive captain," Smolka wrote. "The Ravens might want to see another full season from Elliott, who played just six games in his first two seasons, but his physicality and swagger seem to be a good fit."
DL Broderick Washington Jr. May Play a Larger Role Next Season
Defensive lineman Broderick Washington Jr. played in eight games as a rookie in 2020 and had a total of just 161 defensive snaps (15.1 percent), but he could have a more significant role next season, Ebony Bird's Darin McCann wrote.
The Ravens cited the 6-foot-2, 305-pound Washington's versatility and durability when they drafted him in the fifth round out of Texas Tech last year.
"There is some question if free-agent [Derek] Wolfe will return this season, along with some Twitter speculation (insert deep sigh here) over the future of [Brandon] Williams, which could afford Washington some more opportunities," McCann wrote. "But even if Wolfe is signed and the Ravens do hang on to Williams, you're not talking about a young line.
"If Broderick Washington can provide positional flexibility, hold up strong at the point of attack and allow his veteran line-mates to stay fresh as the season progresses, he will become an important piece for this team going forward. Here's believing he does just that."
- Russell Street Report examines the Ravens salary cap situation.