Ravens Reportedly Interested in Veteran Edge Rusher Carlos Dunlap
Carlos Dunlap provided a huge boost to the Seattle Seahawks' pass rush after a midseason trade last year. Could the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end do the same for the Ravens in 2021?
The Ravens are among several teams interested in signing Dunlap, according to The Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson.
Dunlap, 32, was released by the Seahawks in a cost-saving move this week. After being traded from the Cincinnati Bengals, the team he had played for since 2010, Dunlap had five sacks and 14 quarterback hits in eight games for Seattle.
Dunlap's playing time was reduced in Cincinnati last year prior to the trade. His best season was in 2015, when he had a career-high 13.5 sacks and 34 quarterback hits.
"After a sneaky great 2019 campaign, Dunlap juiced the Seahawks' playoff push last year following a midseason trade from Cincinnati," NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal wrote. "He was released because he wasn't worth $14 million in this market, but he is worth a look for teams needing a pass rusher."
Pass rusher is one of the Ravens' top offseason needs, as Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee and Derek Wolfe are pending free agents.
Baltimore Beatdown’s Dustin Cox believes Dunlap could fit the Ravens' "right player, right price" philosophy.
"At 32 years old, Dunlap's best days are assuredly behind him, but that does not mean that he cannot still be a productive player for the right price," Cox wrote. "As previously mentioned, with only one edge rusher currently under contract in Jaylon Ferguson, Baltimore will have to fill out their roster with players at the position, most likely with cheaper options such as Dunlap given the situation of the salary cap this year.
"Dunlap harassed Baltimore for years in Cincinnati alongside DT Geno Atkins, so the Ravens have first-hand knowledge of the type of impact the 6-foot-6 edge rusher can leave on a game. Since he was released by the Seahawks, Dunlap would not count against the compensatory pick formula as well."
While Dunlap never had fewer than 7.5 sacks in a season from 2013-2019 (he had six last year), he ranked 45th out of 46 qualifiers in pass rush win rate last season, according to Next Gen Stats.
Mike Florio: Ravens Should Make Lamar Jackson Offer He Can't Refuse
General Manager Eric DeCosta said in his press conference Tuesday that Dak Prescott's contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys won’t have an impact on a new deal for Lamar Jackson with the Ravens.
However, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio believes a lesson could be learned from how things played out with the Cowboys and Prescott, who struck a deal reportedly worth $160 million ($126 million guaranteed with a $66 million signing bonus) over four years.
Instead of waiting to get a deal done as the Cowboys did with Prescott, Florio said the Ravens should make Jackson an offer he can't refuse.
"Dak Prescott's contract was a product of his leverage, and Lamar Jackson is four years away from having the same leverage that Dak Prescott enjoyed," Florio said. "He'd have to finish the next two years of his rookie contract, one year of the franchise tender, and then be embarking on the second potential franchise tag, staring down the possibility of being tagged before he'd have that kind of leverage.
"Right now, this is the opportunity for the Ravens to do what the Cowboys failed to do. The Cowboys failed to swoop in when the window opened and make him an offer he couldn't refuse. You've got to make him an offer he can't refuse now, because that number is only going to go up and up and up and up as time passes."
ESPN’s Mina Kimes had a similar take: "For Baltimore, the lesson is: Look at what Dallas did and do the exact opposite."
DeCosta said he has spoken with Jackson in-person this offseason to discuss his future, but he doesn't know when a deal will be struck.
"We're confident and committed to get a long-term deal done and hopefully we can get that done at some point in the near future," DeCosta said. "It may take a little time, but we're willing to try."
Does Ravens' Run-Heavy Offense Scare Off Free-Agent Receivers?
Speaking of the Ravens making a player an offer he can't refuse, DeCosta used that line earlier this offseason when asked how he'd convince a free-agent wide receiver to come play in Baltimore's run-heavy offense.
Is there truth to the notion that the Ravens' style of offense makes Baltimore a less-than-attractive destination for free-agent receivers?
"The opinions of several agents who spoke on the condition of anonymity were mostly mixed," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "One said it still comes down to money and if the Ravens have the highest offer on the table for a free-agent receiver, they stand a good chance of getting that player. … 'If the money is close and you have the choice of going to Green Bay or Baltimore, you're going to Green Bay,' he said.
"Another agent said he believes there's a certain kind of receiver who will rule out Baltimore because they won't want to do the dirty work and put the team over stats. However, he also believes some free-agent receivers will be attracted by the opportunity [to] 'come in and work with a talented quarterback and do it on their own and help develop the passing game.'"
NFL Network analyst Marc Ross told Zrebiec the perception that the Ravens will struggle to sign a top free-agent receiver is largely overblown.
"It's a talking point and all, but when it comes down to it, I think they have so many positives with the Ravens organization: Lamar, the offense, (John) Harbaugh, that it will outweigh the slight worry that one might have about how they run the ball so much that you won't get touches," Ross said. "You can flip it, too. Well, they run the ball so much and that's going to open it up even more and you get huge plays in the passing game because of that."
ESPN Predicts Ravens Sign Corey Davis, Joe Thuney
ESPN’s Dan Graziano thinks Corey Davis is one free-agent receiver who wouldn't have any qualms about playing for the Ravens.
ESPN asked its NFL beat reporters to serve as GMs for their teams and make offers for key free agents while trying to stay within that team's salary-cap restraints. Graziano then predicted which offer the player would choose.
Graziano had the Ravens signing Davis for Jamison Hensley's proposal of four years, $52 million ($25M guaranteed). The other offer came from the Arizona Cardinals at three years, $36 million ($19M guaranteed).
"Both of these offers are strong, but give me the extra year, the extra money and the chance to be a real No. 1 wideout like I was drafted to be when the Titans selected me," Graziano wrote.
The selling point for Davis, according to Hensley: "Become the No. 1 target for Lamar Jackson, score plenty of touchdowns for the highest-scoring offense in the NFL over the past two seasons and turn into a superstar for a team set to go on a Super Bowl run."
Graziano also predicted the Ravens would sign guard Joe Thuney, but lose out on center Corey Linsley.
Would Signing Emmanuel Sanders Make Sense for the Ravens?
The New Orleans Saints are releasing receiver Emmanuel Sanders, according to multiple reports, and Baltimore Beatdown’s Cox thinks veteran would be a good fit for the Ravens.
Sanders turns 34 on March 17, but he has remained productive. In 14 games with the New Orleans Saints last season, Sanders had 61 catches for 726 yards and five touchdowns. He undoubtedly would be less expensive than receivers such as Kenny Golladay, Davis, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Willie Fuller V and Curtis Samuel.
"Even though he isn't a true No. 1 wide receiver in his prime like many fans want, Sanders is still a solid and reliable piece to add to any roster in need of pass catchers," Cox wrote. "Throughout his career, Sanders has demonstrated the ability to both play from the slot and the outside as well. Furthermore, since he was released, Sanders will not count against the compensatory pick formula, which is something the Ravens take very seriously, possibly more than any team in the NFL."
To Cox's point, a dependable and affordable veteran such as Sanders would be a valuable addition for a team whose most-experienced receivers under contract are Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and Miles Boykin, who are both entering their third seasons.