Von Miller Describes Derek Wolfe's Defensive Impact
If you're wondering how the reported signing of Derek Wolfe will impact the Ravens' defense, look no further than comments from one of the league's best pass rushers.
Von Miller was teammates with Wolfe for eight seasons in Denver, and the eight-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker had high praise for his former defensive partner.
"I am Steve Nash in this one, as much as I want to be Dirk Nowitzki," Miller said in 2016, via The Athletic's Nicki Jhabvala. "I'm the quick guy coming around the pick and shooting the 3. He's doing all the dirty work and looking good doing it.
"I've been stealing Derek's sacks for two, three years now. … About 10 of the sacks I have throughout my career, I've stolen from Derek. It's been a great partnership, especially for me, having Derek right there."
During their time together, Miller had double-digit sacks in six seasons. Wolfe's "dirty work" drew the attention of the Ravens on a reported one-year deal worth up to $6 million.
Wolfe would slot in alongside Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell on the defensive line. Wolfe posted a grade of 75 or higher against the run from 2014 to 2018, according to Pro Football Focus, and is coming off a seven sack season.
"Wolfe should help improve the pass rush for the Ravens," ESPN’s Jamison Hensley wrote. "Baltimore's defensive linemen totaled four sacks in 2019, the fewest by any team."
"Wolfe is extremely versatile," Ravens Wire’s Matthew Stevens added. "He can play both defensive tackle and defensive end, which will allow Ravens defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale to move him around the defensive line, especially in third-down situations. Baltimore also doesn't need Wolfe to be an every-down player, which should increase his productivity and efficiency."
What Wolfe did for Miller could also help an ascending pass rusher in Matthew Judon, who had a career-high 9.5 sacks last season. Wolfe (reportedly) and Campbell are significant additions to the interior pass rush, and the Ravens still have a run stuffer in Brandon Williams, who can move back to nose tackle.
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell called the signing a "low-risk deal" for the Ravens and gave it a "B" grade.
"Signed as the replacement for Brockers, Ravens fans might be even more excited about Wolfe than they were about the Rams' stalwart," Barnwell wrote. "Wolfe had seven sacks in 12 games for the Broncos last season and comes at a fraction of both the cost and commitment of Brockers. At his best, Wolfe can be a disruptive force as a 3-4 defensive end and can create havoc coming off of twists; it's easy to imagine him tying up linemen to create pass-rushing opportunities for Judon."
More Moves Coming in Free Agency?
What would have reportedly been a $5 million cap hit for Michael Brockers is now reportedly just $3 million with Wolfe. According to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec, that leaves the Ravens with more than $10 million in cap space.
When you factor in the $2.5 to 3 million that pundits expect Baltimore will need to sign their rookie class, it still leaves some flexibility to make a move.
"Though that doesn't seem like a lot considering 14 teams have more than $20 million in salary cap space, it's enough to lure top free agents that become available after the draft," Stevens wrote. "It also gives the Ravens flexibility to continue addressing their major needs and depth before the draft if they want."
Looking at the defense, there's still a need at inside linebacker. But if you've been following mock drafts, pundits believe the Ravens could address that in the first round with LSU's Patrick Queen or Oklahoma's Kenneth Murray.
"While there's still room to add to the pass rush in the draft, the need for a non-rush linebacker is bigger," Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox wrote. "Though the Ravens finished fifth in rushing yards allowed, this was largely due to their ball-control offense and regular presence ahead on the scoreboard. Only 10 teams allowed more than the 4.4 yards per rush surrendered by the Ravens defense."
Baltimore may not be done addressing the defensive line either. They were reportedly in talks with long-time Green Bay Packer Mike Daniels, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The soon-to-be 31-year-old defensive tackle had 10 tackles and one sack in two starts with the Detroit Lions last season.
Whether the Ravens would still have interest after the reported Wolfe signing is unclear.
If the Ravens still want to add a pass rusher, The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia tabbed Clay Matthews as a fit.
"The Ravens have Judon on the franchise tag and will have to determine whether to keep or trade him depending on what kind of offers they receive," Kapadia wrote. "Either way, they could use edge help. Matthews had eight sacks and 11 [quarterback] hits last season and would offer a short-term fix."
Perhaps the most interesting option still is Jadaveon Clowney. He's ESPN’s top remaining free agent, but reportedly hasn't found the market he's looking for.
Hollywood Brown Reveals How Big the Screws in His Foot Were
Marquise "Hollywood" Brown was never fully healthy last season as he recovered from a Lisfranc foot injury. He reportedly underwent surgery this offseason to remove screws in his foot and revealed just how big they were.
Imagine trying to perform any regular task, let alone do what Brown did? He still put together a strong rookie season, catching 46 passes for 584 yards and seven touchdowns.
Brown has spent the offseason in his home state of Florida working out and preparing for the upcoming season. After posting one of his best performances against the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs, pundits are expecting a sophomore leap.
"Offensive Coordinator] Greg Roman can be much more creative with a healthy Brown, such as using him on end arounds, reverses, or jet sweeps,” [Baltimore Beatdown’s Dustin Cox wrote. "Brown should see an uptick in screen passes thrown his way as well. Brown's speed can be utilized in a multitude of ways on offense now that he will be fully recovered from his foot injury."
Ravens Named As Possible Trade Destination for Brandin Cooks
One position the Ravens haven't addressed this offseason is wide receiver. While there are a limited number of options in free agency, Brandin Cooks is rumored to be on the trading block.
Cooks sent out this tweet on Friday.
Cooks had just 583 receiving yards and two touchdowns last season with the Los Angeles Rams, but posted 1,000-yard seasons from 2015-2018.
"The Ravens haven't signed a star pass-catcher for Jackson this offseason, but trading for Cooks would be a gift for their MVP quarterback," FanSided’s Kevin Parcizi wrote. "Jackson could have a season for the ages with Brown and Cooks as targets, as Cooks can also get loose downfield or do everything a No. 1 receiver can do."
Taking on Cooks' salary is a different matter, however. He's set to earn a base salary of $8 million in 2020, per Spotrac.
- NFL.com’s Adam Schein ranked the trade for Campbell one of the most impactful on the 2020 season. "The perfect player going to the perfect team in the perfect city at the perfect time. Campbell is a sensational person and teammate," Schein wrote. "The five-time Pro Bowler is an excellent, versatile, selfless defensive lineman who makes everyone around him better. What a boost to a unit that already was quite imposing."
- Saints Pro Bowl returner Deonte Harris is donating meals to his hometown of Baltimore.