Don't Be Surprised If Ravens Lose Multiple Free-Agent Edge Rushers to Jaguars
After Defensive Line Coach Joe Cullen left the Ravens to take over as Jaguars defensive coordinator last month, Coaching Analyst/Defense Zachary Orr followed Cullen to Jacksonville this week to be the Jaguars' outside linebackers coach.
Could some of the Ravens' pending free agents on defense join Cullen and Orr in Jacksonville? It's a real possibility, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora wrote.
"Keep an eye on the Jacksonville Jaguars plucking multiple Ravens in free agency," La Canfora wrote. "Their new defense, led by former Ravens assistant Joe Cullen as their new coordinator, is going to prize many of the same body types and characteristics that worked for Wink Martindale so well in Baltimore."
Ravens set to hit free agency include edge rushers Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee and Jihad Ward. The only edge rusher the Ravens have under contract for next season is Jaylon Ferguson, who was a healthy scratch for both playoff games.
The Jaguars have $73 million in cap space, the most in the league, according to Over The Cap. The Ravens have $13.7 million.
"Jacksonville has oodles of cap space and that owner is prepared to spend big for new coach Urban Meyer and it will be hard for the Ravens to compete to keep many (any?) of their bounty of edge defenders who are not under contract for next season," La Canfora wrote. "That's a diverse list led by Matt Judon, who played on the franchise tag in 2020 and is an uber-versatile defender.
"Tyus Bowser was among the NFL league leaders in interceptions by a linebacker. He has a nice get-home rate on pressures/drop backs and he is stout enough setting the edge and is just 25 years old with upside; some believe he could land in the $10M-a-year range if not more. Pernell McPhee and Jihad Ward were great low-cost, one-year fits for the Ravens, but they may see action from the Jags as well."
One Ravens edge rusher set to hit free agency who won't be linked to Jacksonville is Yannick Ngakoue, whose trade request before the start of the season was granted by the Jaguars.
Looking at Pass-Catching Tight Ends Ravens Could Target
As noted by our Clifton Brown earlier this week, adding to the tight end group is another way for the Ravens to upgrade their passing attack. Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed took it a step further and said the Ravens should prioritize adding another pass-catching tight end over pursuing another wide receiver.
"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," Reed wrote.
The Ravens have in-house options in Jake Breeland, Eli Wolf and Sean Culkin. Reed looked at the three avenues in which the Ravens could add a pass-catching tight end:
The top tight ends set to become unrestricted free agents are Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Gerald Everett, Rob Gronkowski and Jared Cook.
"Everett would be the ideal replacement for [Hayden] Hurst in the Ravens offense and could be had at an affordable price," Reed wrote. "He played a similar role for the Rams where he excelled as a blocker that lined up on the end of the line as well as in the backfield, and saw his role as a pass-catcher grow each year."
Three players that could be on the trade block are the Philadelphia Eagles' Zach Ertz, Minnesota Vikings' Kyle Rudolph and Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Cameron Brate, Reed wrote. The Ravens reportedly showed interest in Ertz in October.
"Brate's contract features affordable cap hits and base salaries through the 2023 season," Reed wrote. "If the Ravens were to trade for either Rudolph or Ertz, it would likely be contingent on them signing an extension to spread their cap hits over one to two more years, like they did when they acquired five-time Pro Bowl defensive end, Calais Campbell, from the Jacksonville Jaguars on the eve of free agency last offseason."
Florida's Kyle Pitts, the consensus No. 1 tight end prospect, will be long gone by the time the Ravens select at No. 27 in the first round. But, Penn State's Pat Freiermuth, Miami's Brevin Jordan and Boston College's Hunter Long will probably be available in the second or third round, Reed wrote.
Bowling Green's Quintin Morris and Mississippi's Kenny Yeboah are Day 3 picks who Reed thinks could interest the Ravens. Both players showed their pass-catching ability at the Senior Bowl last weekend.
"The Ravens have a rich history of drafting and finding Day 3 gems from the senior all-star game at almost every position," Reed wrote. "Both Yeboah and Morris are projected to come off the board between the fourth and seventh-rounds and could fill a need at a valuable position on the roster."
Mark Ingram Talks About Being Released, Praises J.K. Dobbins
Doing media interviews this week to promote Eggo, former Ravens running back Mark Ingram II commented on how he dealt with being a healthy scratch in four of the team's final five games (including both playoff games).
Ingram told Fansided that he was disappointed but understands football is a business. He said he still prepared himself for doing whatever he could to help the team win.
"It's tough and some things you can't control, but what I could control was my attitude, how I approach my work ethic every single day," Ingram said. "How I treated my teammates and how I prepared myself and my teammates to be able to go out there and perform to our utmost ability on Sunday, so that's what I focused on."
During an interview with Fox Sports, Ingram had high praise for rookie running back J.K. Dobbins.
"I just told him to be himself. The kid has everything it takes already," Ingram said. "He has all the physical tools. He's a complete player. He can run the ball. He can come out of the backfield and catch the ball. He's a leader. He brings good energy, and he's good [in] pass protection, too. He's going to be a good running back in this league for a long time."
- Judon joined “Super Bowl Live” to discuss his 2020 season and more.