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Late for Work 3/19: Ravens Made 'Huge Splash' With Reported Moves

Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers in action during an NFL game.

Disclaimer: Even though free agency technically started yesterday, NFL teams will not formally announce deals or comment on them until the players in question pass a physical to make the moves official.

Therefore, any comments from pundits in this space on free agent comings and goings that have not been announced by the Ravens are based solely on reports.

With that out of the way, here's what the pundits are saying about the Ravens during this week's free agency frenzy:

Praise for Reported Calais Campbell, Michael Brockers Deals

Looking to strengthen their defensive line, the Ravens reportedly acquired Calais Campbell from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 2020 fifth-round pick (which Baltimore got from Minnesota last year for kicker Kaare Vedvik) and reportedly signed former Los Angeles Ram Michael Brockers to a three-year contract.

The 6-foot-8, 300-pound Campbell and 6-5, 305-pound Brockers would combine with Brandon Williams (6-1, 335) to form an imposing defensive front. Last season, the Ravens allowed 4.4 yards per rush, the worst mark in the team's history, per ESPN, and Derrick Henry ran for 195 yards in the Tennessee Titans' upset win in Baltimore in an AFC divisional playoff game.

"It makes perfect sense that Baltimore's first two additions this offseason were Campbell and Brockers," ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote. "Campbell was named Pro Football Focus' run defender of the year. Brockers is 'one of the best run-stoppers in the National Football League,' according to Aaron Donald, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year."

NFL Network’s Michael Silver said the Ravens, coming off a franchise-best 14-2 season, got significantly better this week with those acquisitions.

"The Ravens have made a huge splash, which is haunting because they were so good in the regular season," Silver said. "The trade for Calais Campbell and then signing Michael Brockers – Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale compensated for the lack of edge rushing last year by blitzing a lot. He should not have to do that as much this year. … I think the Ravens are going to be a better team on paper in 2020, which is scary."

Campbell, 33, has one year remaining on his current contract at $15 million for next season, according to Spotrac. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the Ravens and Campbell are close to agreeing on a new two-deal.

Hensley said the Campbell trade "could go down as the biggest steal in Ravens history."

"Basically, the Ravens added a five-time Pro Bowl defender and one of the NFL's most consistent pass-rushers for a draft pick they received for a backup kicker who lasted three weeks with the Vikings," Hensley wrote.

Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey gave the Ravens an "elite" grade for the trade.

"He adds an elite defensive lineman to the Ravens that can play on the edge or inside," Linsey wrote. "Getting that for a fifth-round pick is almost stealing for the Ravens."

Brockers, 29, has been productive and durable during his eight seasons with the Rams and is coming off a season in which he had a career-high 63 tackles and three sacks. He and the Ravens agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal, according to Rapoport.

"Bringing in Brockers is a great way to maximize the investment made in Campbell," Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler wrote. "The Ravens now have three defensive linemen that can force double teams."

Ravens Got Great Value in Hayden Hurst Trade

General Manager Eric DeCosta made another shrewd trade by sending tight end Hayden Hurst and a fourth-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for second- and fifth-round picks in the 2020 draft. The deal was officially announced by the Ravens yesterday.

Baltimore now has five picks in the first three rounds (one in the first and two each in the second and third).

The Ravens landing a second-round pick for Hurst was ranked as the sixth-best move in free agency thus far (one spot behind the Campbell acquisition) by Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox.

"If one was grading deals on pure value, the Baltimore Ravens' trade of tight end Hayden Hurst might be at the top of this list," Knox wrote. "To get a second-round pick out of a backup tight end is tantamount to stealing — though the Falcons did need a replacement for Austin Hooper, who departed in free agency."

Linsey gave the Ravens an "above average" grade for the trade.

"Baltimore got the better end of the deal, but this can be viewed as a win-win, particularly if Hurst takes a similar jump in 2020 as the one he made from his rookie to second season," Linsey wrote.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote that Hurst, who was selected by Baltimore with the 25th-overall pick in 2018, should flourish in Atlanta, but it's still a good deal for the Ravens.

"It wouldn't be surprising at all if he puts up big numbers in Atlanta, just like Austin Hooper did," Zrebiec wrote. "But it would have likely taken [a Mark] Andrews injury to get that type of opportunity in Baltimore. The Ravens took advantage of a thin tight-end market and draft class and got an offer for Hurst that they couldn't refuse."

Jihad Ward, Justin Ellis Fill 'Significant Roles'

Not every move generates a lot of buzz, but that doesn't mean they aren't significant. Case in point: Baltimore reportedly re-signing defensive end Jihad Ward and defensive tackle Justin Ellis.

Ward, who was signed by the Ravens in October after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts, made an immediate impact. The 25-year-old former second-round pick was a regular in the defensive line rotation for the Ravens, playing both end and tackle.

Ellis, 29, adds more depth to the defensive line. He played in four games with the Ravens in 2019 after being signed as a free agent in November.

"The two may not be Pro Bowlers, but both Ellis and Ward have a significant role to play for the Baltimore Ravens defense moving forward," Ebony Bird’s Richard Bradshaw wrote. "The starting three are entrenched and battle-tested, and now the guys behind them will make the unit one of the strongest on the team."

What's Left to Do for Ravens?

Ravens Wire’s Ryan Wormeli assessed what the Ravens' biggest remaining needs are this offseason. Here are some excerpts:

Offensive line: "Without [Marshal] Yanda, it's the offensive line that takes top priority. This team was blessed with great health along the offensive line in 2019, a sneaky key to their offensive explosion. They still have Pro Bowlers at both tackle positions, but the interior OL is both unproven and shallow. …Thankfully, the end of the first round or rounds two and three – the Ravens hold five picks in the first three rounds – is the sweet spot to find their next plug-and-play guard."

Linebacker: "With Patrick Onwuasor a free agent, the Ravens are extremely thin at this position, arguably the roster's biggest hole. Thankfully, they are also in a great spot to address this need. The two most common names linked to the Ravens early in mock drafts are Patrick Queen (LSU) and Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma). … The biggest question for the Ravens is less would they have interest in either Queen or Murray, and more will either of those two be available with the 28th pick? Eric DeCosta has plenty of ammo to move up if he wants to get his guy."

Edge rusher: "Keeping [Matthew] Judon in town helps immensely, but he's still the only player on the roster with a proven track record of getting to the quarterback. … If the Ravens want to see their defense take a step forward to match their elite offense – boy, that sure is a weird sentence to type, huh? – then a great pass rusher is the missing ingredient."

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