Starting center Bradley Bozeman became emotional talking about his pending free agency Monday.
It wasn't the brutal end to the Ravens' season that had Bozeman choked up. It was the thought of leaving Baltimore.
"I've been very blessed," Bozeman said. "This place has been so amazing to me, everyone involved from the ground up – from all my teammates, to the coaches, to the fans, everyone. It's been a great place for me. So, I'm just very grateful."
The Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation has given Bozeman and his wife a platform to be heavily involved in the community, addressing issues important to them like anti-bullying and food insecurity.
Meanwhile, Bozeman has become one of the Ravens' most important offensive linemen. After two years starting at left guard, Bozeman moved to center this season and found a comfort zone returning to the position he played at Alabama.
The Ravens recently signed starting right tackle Patrick Mekari, who has played center in the past, to a contract extension. If Bozeman were to depart, Mekari could be asked to move back to center, but there are several scenarios that could materialize as next year's offensive line takes shape.
Bozeman isn't sure how things will shake out and he could be coveted in free agency as a young, versatile offensive lineman with starting experience. However, Bozeman made it clear he would like to re-sign with the Ravens.
"So, so grateful and blessed to have called myself a Raven for the last four years," Bozeman said. "I hope it's the next four more, but we don't really know right now. We'll figure that out this offseason and see what happens. It's just been a great place to call home the last four years."
In related offensive line news, right guard Kevin Zeitler, 31, said he's not considering retirement.
Brandon Williams: 'As Long As They Want Me I'll Be Here'
Veteran defensive tackle Brandon Williams has spent his entire nine-year career with the Ravens and has played at least 12 games in every season, earning a reputation as one of the NFL's best run stoppers. In 13 starts this season, Williams had 36 tackles, his most since 2016 and the Ravens finished No. 1 in the NFL against the run.
As an unrestricted free agent, Williams isn't sure if he'll be back in Baltimore, but knows he'd like to be.
"I feel like as long as they want me I'll be here," Williams said. "You never know what they're thinking upstairs. At this point, it's something I can't worry about, because it's something out of my control. I'm not going to rattle my brain and just kind of go crazy over what could maybe happen. I'm just going to enjoy time with my family and see what happens."
Despite missing the playoffs, Williams said the Ravens sent a message to the NFL as a team to be reckoned with in 2022.
"Regardless [of] if I'm back or not, we're more than capable," Williams said. "I mean, we're the Baltimore Ravens, and we're always in the talk, unless something crazy happens. It's not like there's some crazy rebuilding we've got to do. We've just got to get some guys healthy and add some more pieces to the puzzle, like we're going to do this offseason, and keep on riding. And we're going to double-back on it. We're definitely going to double-down."
The Ravens' veteran defensive line is one area where the could be some change, however. Williams is a free agent, Calais Campbell is considering retirement, and Derek Wolfe didn't play all season because of a back injury. Williams said he doesn't know what Campbell will decide.
Josh Bynes 'Beyond Interested' in Staying in Baltimore
Josh Bynes wants his third stint with the Ravens to continue.
Signed as a free agent in late September after being cut by the Carolina Panthers, Bynes became a starter at inside linebacker and brought consistency and leadership to the front seven. Bynes was third on the team in tackles despite missing the first three games. Once he took over at MIKE linebacker and allowed Patrick Queen to switch primarily to WILL, Queen's game took off as he played faster with less responsibility.
Bynes spent his first four NFL seasons with the Ravens, helping them win a Super Bowl in 2012 after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2011. After stints with Detroit and Arizona, Bynes returned to the Ravens in 2019 and helped them to a franchise record 14-2 regular season.
Still only 32 years old and a pending free agent, Bynes has no plans to retire and doesn't want to leave Baltimore again. Another dance with the Ravens would be music to Bynes' ears.
"I am beyond interested," Bynes said. "I feel like I have a lot of ball left in me. I feel like I proved that this season. It's not like I feel I have one more in me kind of thing. I feel like I have two, three four, whatever amount that is given to me. I put in that work in the offseason, take care of myself throughout the year. I want to continue that as long as I can. My body feels great. I'd love to be back in Baltimore. This is home for me."
Pending Free Agent DeShon Elliott 'Loves' Being in Baltimore
Include starting safety DeShon Elliott as another pending free agent who's hoping to stay put. Elliott posted a message on Twitter that reflected his affection for Baltimore.
"Regardless of what happens next, I love being in Baltimore," Elliott wrote. "I love my brothers I got to play with while I was here. The Organization for giving me a chance injury after injury, the culture, the fans. Been a blessing to be here, just the start of a long career. Never Quit."
Elliott's 2021 season ended in Week 9 when he suffered a torn pec and torn biceps against the Minnesota Vikings. He became a starter in 2020 and played a full season for the first time after missing his rookie season in 2018 with a fractured forearm and playing just six games in 2019 before a knee injury.
Staying healthy has been Elliott's biggest obstacle. When he's on the field, he plays with energy and force, bringing a feisty attitude that his teammates and coaches love. On the play when Elliott suffered his season ending injury, he still helped tackle Vikings fullback C.J. Ham with one arm.