Free-Agent Predictions Send Kenny Golladay to the Ravens
Head Coach John Harbaugh said it would be awesome for the Ravens to bring in a big, physical wide receiver this offseason, and two pundits see that happening.
"It's possible that the Lions franchise Golladay, but after trading Stafford and starting its rebuild, I'm not sure there's much logic in keeping him for one year at about $16 million unless it's to produce a sign-and-trade," Barnwell wrote. "The Lions would expect to get a third-round compensatory pick back for him if they let him leave and didn't make a significant free-agent signing to replace him.
"He could be the receiver the Ravens go after, despite general manager Eric DeCosta's suggestions that Baltimore is happy with the receivers they had last season."
Barnwell looked at 43 receivers who could change teams during free agency, and Golladay fell under the "No. 1 wideouts" category.
At 6-foot-4, 214 pounds, Golladay would certainly fit the mold of a physical, No. 1 wide receiver fans and pundits have been clamoring for.
Even Marlon Humphrey has started his recruiting of free agents, while not mentioning Golladay specifically.
The 28-year-old receiver is slated to become an unrestricted free-agent this offseason after four seasons in Detroit. While he had just 338 yards and two touchdowns battling injuries this season, Golladay totaled back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019.
"This is where the Ravens come in," Knox added. "Jackson lacks the type of No. 1 receiver Golladay can be, and the Ravens are projected to have close to $17 million in cap space—10th-most in the NFL. With Golladay on the perimeter, the Ravens may finally have the firepower to outduel the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills in the AFC."
With teams expected to be cash-strapped with a tighter salary cap, how much could Golladay cost on the open market? Barnwell predicts the Ravens will sign him to a four-year, $74 million contract.
Spotrac predicts Golladay's market value at $17 million annually.
Patrick Queen Lands With Ravens Again, J.K. Dobbins Goes Even Higher in 2020 Re-Draft
Patrick Queen was integral to the Ravens' defensive success this season as the third linebacker taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. If it were to happen again, he'd still end up in Baltimore.
ESPN's NFL Nation reporters re-drafted the first two rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft, and Queen landed with the Ravens at No. 28.
"The biggest hole on the Ravens is middle linebacker, and Queen falls to them once again," ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote. "Queen has acknowledged his struggles at times, but he has shown flashes of being a playmaker. He is the only rookie linebacker this season to record over 100 tackles as well as at least one sack, interception, forced fumble and defensive touchdown."
Queen was still the third linebacker off the board in the re-draft behind Kenneth Murray Jr., who landed with the New England Patriots at No. 23, and Jordyn Brooks, who landed with the Seattle Seahawks at No. 27.
Despite earning a surprisingly low 29.8 grade from Pro Football Focus, Queen was productive in a starting linebacker role. He was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5 after racking up nine tackles and a forced fumble.
Inside linebacker is typically one of the toughest positions to play on a defense, and Queen's transition was even more impressive given the limited offseason rookies had to prepare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other side of the ball, J.K. Dobbins went six spots ahead of his original draft position to the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 49.
"The Steelers' run game was dreadful for the second year in a row," ESPN's Brooke Pryor wrote. "Though he was the lead back, as promised by Mike Tomlin, James Conner never returned to his 2018 form. Meanwhile, Dobbins had a solid rookie season in Baltimore and took over starting duties from Mark Ingram II."
Instead of Dobbins, the Ravens still chose a running back in James Robinson at pick No. 55.
Ravens fans probably couldn't stomach Dobbins landing with a division rival, but they won't have to.
Dobbins developed into the lead back during his rookie season, totaling 805 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He played a significant role as the rushing attack was lethal down the final stretch of the season.
Baltimore Beatdown's Joshua Reed gave Baltimore a resounding "A" grade for the pick.
"[T]he future of the Ravens punishing run game looks extremely bright with Dobbins in the picture whether he is splitting time with Edwards like he did for most of 2020 or becomes the bell cow down the road at some point," Reed wrote. "He will be in for a much heavier and consistent workload in year two and will be poised to rush for 1,000 plus yards and possibly even make his first career Pro Bowl."
Assessing the Ravens' Offseason Hits
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec looked back and graded the Ravens' offseason moves, and here are a few snippets of some of their hits.
Trading Hayden Hurst
"Sure, the Ravens could have used Hurst, especially after Boyle went down with a season-ending injury," Zrebiec wrote. "But this trade made sense at the time and it still does. The Ravens used the Falcons' second-round pick on running back J.K. Dobbins, whose ascension into the lead back role coincided with the team's torrid finish to the regular season. Dobbins had 925 total yards and nine touchdowns and is in position to be the team's lead back for the foreseeable future. The Ravens sent Atlanta's fifth-round pick to Jacksonville for Calais Campbell."
Trading for Calais Campbell
"This deal certainly didn't prove to be a home run like it initially appeared to be, but that was neither the Ravens' nor Campbell's fault," Zrebiec wrote. "... When he was healthy, he made a solid impact on the field and he immediately became a leader in the locker room. Given the return, it was a deal the Ravens would make 10 times over, even if Campbell's health didn't always cooperate."
Signing Derek Wolfe
"The 30-year-old had only one sack, a career-low," Zrebiec wrote. "However, he was a presence throughout against the run, tied a career-high with 51 tackles and did a ton of dirty work that freed up teammates. During a stretch where Campbell and Brandon Williams both were out, Wolfe played his best football and made sure there wasn't a major dropoff."
Re-Signing Jimmy Smith
"The Ravens defense was significantly better in 2020 when Smith was on the field," Zrebiec wrote. "They must have been satisfied with what they got out of the 32-year-old for what they paid him because they signed him to another one-year deal last month."
Pundits Double Down on How the Ravens Can Be Super Bowl Contenders
In yesterday's edition of Late for Work, ESPN said the Ravens have to upgrade their offense to compete for a Super Bowl.
Now another pundit is doubling down on the take.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal looked at one thing each AFC team can do to take the Kansas City Chiefs' place in Super Bowl LVI.
For the Ravens, it's adding more dimensions to the passing attack.
"Jackson is a two-part process," Rosenthal wrote. "First, Baltimore needs to add multiple pass catchers who can take advantage of all the favorable coverage the Ravens' running game dictates. … DeCosta must add playmakers to the mix, but part of the change needs to come from offensive coordinator Greg Roman's approach. The Ravens brag about the depth of their rushing playbook, but spending all that practice time on the ground attack leaves less room to work on a passing game that lacked the ability to adjust and became predictable. Baltimore took this extreme run-heavy offense as far as it could go, and it wasn't quite far enough."
We're less than three weeks into the Ravens' offseason and the talk surrounding the pass catchers has been the main topic of conversation.
Despite outside criticisms from pundits, Harbaugh and DeCosta have reiterated that the Ravens' offensive identity revolves around the run game.
Is it fair to say the Ravens have taken the offense as far as it could go? After all, it's what led them to an 11-win season and a wild-card win against the Tennessee Titans.
That doesn't mean they're going to ignore the passing attack. Reed believes one of the ways the Ravens could do this is by adding another pass-catching tight end.
"[W]ith an offense that they are committed to going forward, it would behoove DeCosta to prioritize adding another pass-catching tight end to effectively replace [Hayden] Hurst over another wide receiver to aid Jackson and the passing game," Reed wrote. "The Ravens proved to be at their and the league's best when they can operate out of 12 and 13 personnel with three viable receiving threats who are true tight ends."
Warren Sapp: No Defense Better Than the 2000 Ravens
How good was the 2000 Ravens defense? Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp said it was the best.
"Ya'll won the Super Bowl and weren't scoring touchdowns," Sapp told Shannon Sharpe on the 'Club Shay Shay' podcast. "I used to tell Ray [Lewis], we created 'buff ball', but ya'll went and perfected it."
"All we had to do was not turn the ball over," Sharpe said. "The likelihood of driving the ball 70 to 80 yards against that defense, it wasn't going to happen."
The defense was nothing short of legendary. They allowed 60.6 rushing yards per game, gave up only five rushing touchdowns and 165 points all season.
With a league now predicated on offensive firepower, Sapp said there's no chance any team breaks the Ravens' defensive records.