More Additions Coming?
If you are keeping track of the NFL calendar, Tuesday marks the unofficial start to the second wave of free agency. Players signed after midnight. will not count against the compensatory pick formula and there are still plenty of notable free-agents available.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec dove into the topic and discussed how the Ravens can continue to build their roster.
“There surely won’t be a spending spree, but the Ravens figure to be active on a couple of fronts,” Zrebiec wrote.
One of those fronts could be edge rusher. The Ravens still have a need at the position, and Ezekiel Ansah fits the bill.
Ansah, Sports Illustrated’s top remaining unrestricted free-agent, visited the Ravens in late April.
“The addition of a player with 48 career sacks and two double-digit sack seasons on his résumé, along with the drafting of Jaylon Ferguson, would go a long way toward solidifying a pass rush that lost [Za’Darius] Smith, Terrell Suggs and [Brent] Urban,” Zrebiec wrote.
The draw for Ansah would be joining one of the NFL’s top defenses from last season, with the chance to contribute immediately. Wide receiver John Brown had success betting on himself in a similar situation last season, signing a one-year $5 million “prove it” deal in Baltimore.
Ansah could look to do the same, but as Zrebiec wrote, the Ravens aren’t the only team expressing interest in the former Pro Bowler.
CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin predicts that Ansah will land with the Buffalo Bills.
“No. 1, adding a former All-Pro to a line that now includes first-rounder Ed Oliver could really ramp up [Buffalo’s] trench game,” Benjamin wrote. “No. 2, they're flush with the cap space to make it happen.”
Benjamin also had former Ravens wide receiver Michael Crabtree joining Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Zrebiec noted that the Ravens could also look to add free-agent pieces at inside linebacker or center.
PennLive’s Aaron Kasinitz said there’s no remaining free-agent linebacker to replace C.J. Mosley directly, but Will Compton and Stephone Anthony are potential options on the market.
“Compton and Anthony have been productive in recent seasons and either one could offer a complement to Patrick Onwuasor and Kenny Young in the linebacking corps,” Kasinitz wrote.
“We’ll continue to look at available players that are out there on the streets and other team’s players,” General Manager Eric DeCosta said following the draft. “We get phone calls all the time, and we’ll continue to look at that. But we’re comfortable that we have guys that can play the position here in Baltimore on the team, and we expect those guys to improve and get better as well.”
On the other end, the compensatory pick deadline also provides a glimpse at the potential haul the Ravens could receive next offseason
After receiving a third-round comp pick this year for losing Ryan Jensen, the Ravens could be in line for three comp picks (third, fourth, and fifth-round).
Things may change, but the potential to have nine picks heading into a loaded 2020 NFL Draft is an ideal scenario.
Pundits Expect Big Season For Tony Jefferson
When it comes to the best secondaries in the NFL, the Ravens are certainly in the conversation.
The addition of All-Pro safety Earl Thomas provides a dynamic partnership with Tony Jefferson in the final third of the field, and Ebony Bird’s Chris Schisler believes Jefferson is primed for a big year.
“Last season, Jefferson had 74 tackles, a sack and an interception,” Schisler wrote. “This season those numbers could go up.
“Jefferson is a dynamic defensive back who has the right pieces around him. This could be an interesting x-factor for the defense. Martindale earned a big vote of confidence last year as the defensive coordinator. It will be exciting to see what he does with Jefferson in the 2019 NFL season.”
Jefferson played 83% of the team’s defensive snaps last season, fourth only behind Weddle, Mosley and Brandon Carr. He played a vital role for a group that allowed an average of 210 passing yards per game last season and ranked as Pro Football Focus’ fifth-best secondary.
Schisler isn’t the only pundit who feels Thomas’ addition will positively impact Jefferson. Baltimore Beatdown’s Frank Platko believes Thomas’ range and ball-hawking skills will allow Jefferson to play in a more natural role as a box safety.
“With Thomas in the fold, there’s a great chance that Jefferson has his best season yet in Baltimore and perhaps the best year of his career,” Platko wrote. “With Weddle, Suggs, and Mosley no longer on the roster, Jefferson could also find himself in a leadership position on the defense, a role you can expect he’ll embrace.”
Bleacher Report Says Ravens Are the Most Exciting Team in Madden
In yesterday’s edition of LFW, we talked about the offensive experiment the Ravens are putting together. With the speed DeCosta has added to the roster, one could say the Ravens are building a video game-like offense in Baltimore.
It just so happens that Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier ranked the top five Madden NFL teams that players will want to get their hands on this season.
Coming in at No. 1 was the Ravens, ahead of the Raiders, Browns, Chargers and Cardinals.
“[Lamar] Jackson, [Marquise] Brown and a roster built for option mayhem make them a must-play team for anyone who ever dreamed of taking over an NFL team and doing things their own way,” Tanier wrote. “And isn't that what Madden is all about?”
The top overall draw in choosing the Ravens? Lamar Jackson’s athleticism. Tanier pointed out that Jackson has 95 rated agility, 89 juke move, 86 spin move, and 94 throw power. Pair that with the speed of Brown and that makes for a lethal combination in the passing game, while using an offensive playbook which, “mixed [in with] some of the wackiest elements of the 2012 49ers Option playbook with stuff Navy ran in the early 1950s.”
“By taking him that early, Baltimore is clearly expecting Brown to grow next to Jackson and lead the way in terms of talent,” RavensWire’s Matthew Stevens wrote. “With a 4.33-second 40-yard dash time, Brown has the ability to be a game-breaking, explosive playmaker.”
Even an AFC North rival like Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster told Complex Sports that he plays with the Ravens on Madden.
Brown and Jaylon Ferguson took a break from football and had some fun throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles game last night.