Pundits Says the Ravens' Offseason is Just Beginning
The past few weeks have been a busy time in Baltimore, but some pundits believe the Ravens' offseason is just getting started.
The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia sat down with OverTheCap.com's Jason Fitzgerald to discuss what they've learned from all 32 teams this offseason.
For the Ravens, it was the belief that there are still moves to be made.
"The Ravens could be the exception in that they still have a lot of issues to square away between now and Week 1," Kapadia wrote. "They lost edge defenders [Matthew] Judon and Yannick Ngakoue and will likely add someone between now and the start of the season.
"Signings after May 3 don't count against the compensatory pick formula. Adding guard Kevin Zeitler (three years, $22.5 million) was a smart move. The Ravens also signed wide receiver Sammy Watkins."
Kapadia and Fitzgerald added that trading Orlando Brown Jr. and an extension for Lamar Jackson could still happen. Fitzgerald said Jackson could get "a little bit more" than Dak Prescott, who signed a six-year, $240 million deal this offseason.
But in terms of free agency, the May 3 deadline continues to come into play.
"Several free agents that could help to fill some areas of need for the Ravens remain available," Russell Street Report's Tony Lombardi wrote. "Yet general manager Eric DeCosta appears to be in no rush to sign any of them.
"As for the other [free agents] who could help the team, given the remaining talent, it could be that DeCosta isn't interested until May 3rd. Why then? Unrestricted free agents signed the Monday following the NFL Draft do NOT factor into the compensatory pick equation."
Projections currently have the Ravens receiving two fourth-round compensatory picks for the losses of Judon and Ngakoue. For a team that has collected the most compensatory picks since they were introduced, that always plays into offseason decisions.
So who is left on the market that the Ravens could target?
Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton looked at landing spots for the top remaining free agents. He tabbed wide receiver Antonio Brown and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz as fits for Baltimore.
Could DeShon Elliott Be Next in Line for a Contract Extension?
With all of the contract talk surrounding Jackson and Andrews, could another extension candidate be flying under the radar?
Baltimore Beatdown's Frank Platko believes safety DeShon Elliott is deserving of a new contract.
"No, Elliott is not the organization's franchise quarterback like Jackson, nor is he the top pass-catching option on the roster like Andrews," Platko wrote. "He also has not started 32 straight games like [Bradley] Bozeman, either. Even so, there are more reasons to extend his contract than not."
It's an interesting thought as Elliott enters the third year of his rookie contract. The former sixth-round pick wasn't able to find the field during his first two seasons because of injuries, but made an immediate impact as a starter last season.
Following the release of Earl Thomas, Elliott started all 16 games. He provided a physical presence in the back third of the defense, finishing with 80 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
"Elliott quickly became an invaluable chess piece in the defensive backfield alongside [Chuck] Clark," Platko wrote. "Between his hard-hitting style and rangy athleticism, Elliott's versatility was apparent week in and week out. He's not the same ball-hawking presence that Thomas was, but Elliott brought more juice to the table and was more impactful against the run. It would have been fair to expect some growing pains in his first year of starting. Instead, Elliott rarely if ever was responsible for lapses in coverage, blown assignments, or missed tackles."
This offseason, the Denver Broncos signed Justin Simmons to a four-year $61 million deal, making him the highest-paid safety in the NFL on a per-year average ($15.25 million).
The Ravens have already locked in a loaded secondary by extending Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Platko argued that now would be the time to sign Elliott to a contract extension because he's "an ascending, homegrown talent who plays a premium position."
"The Ravens would be smart to pursue the opportunity to extend Elliott this offseason to avoid the chance that he prices himself out of the Ravens' range next year," Platko added. "In all likelihood, they could lock him into a multi-year deal right now. This would also eliminate the potential mess of trying to extend all four of Jackson, Andrews, Bozeman, and Elliott in the span of a few months."
Ravens Cornerbacks Among Strongest Positional Groups Heading Into the Draft
Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey looked at the strongest team positional groups heading into the draft this month, and among them are the Ravens cornerbacks.
"Baltimore's cornerbacks combined for a 76.7 coverage grade during the 2020 season (third in the NFL) and a league-low 10.7 yards per reception allowed," Linsey wrote. "That's even more impressive when you look at the coverages Baltimore runs. The Ravens ranked second in the NFL in Cover 0 usage, behind only the Miami Dolphins, and they used Cover 1 at the sixth-highest rate in the league. In other words, their cornerbacks are asked to play a lot of man coverage."
Along with Humphrey and Peters, the Ravens also signed Jimmy Smith to a one-year extension. Anthony Averett stepped up last season, while Tavon Young is expected to return after suffering a season-ending injury.
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein ranked cornerback as the fifth-best position group in the draft behind wide receiver, offensive tackle, interior offensive line, and edge defender.
That bodes well for the Ravens, who have needs at almost all of those positions, but I still wouldn't count out adding a cornerback in the draft. The Ravens have taken at least one cornerback in five of the last seven drafts.
"Day 2 offers a much more exciting group of cornerbacks to choose from than last year's crop did, boasting length, speed and ball production," Zierlein wrote. "The well could dry up somewhat beyond the fourth round, but this is a better overall class than 2020."
Ravens Earn Performance-Based Pay
A number of Ravens earned pay raises from their performances in 2020.
According to the NFL Players Association, Elliott, Jackson, Brown, Patrick Mekari, and Chris Board were rewarded with bonuses based on their play. Elliott topped the list.
"Under a formula that rewards players with lower base salaries, Elliott will receive a $557,477 bonus, just ahead of Bozeman ($543,002)," The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer wrote. "A 2018 sixth-round pick, Elliott started 16 games last season and played 98% of the Ravens' defensive snaps while earning $750,000 in salary.
"Brown ($477,211), Mekari ($321,860) and Board ($305,956) also will get at least $300,000 in performance-based pay. Jackson will receive a $194,921 bonus."
- ESPN's Mike Tannenbaum has the Ravens selecting Alabama guard Deonte Brown in the first round of his latest mock draft.