The Ravens have strengthened their offensive line with a major move at the start of free agency.
Former New York Giants guard Kevin Zeitler and the Ravens have agreed to terms on a three-year contract, pending the passing of a physical. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the deal is worth $22.5 million with $16 million guaranteed.
The 31-year-old Zeitler was one of the top offensive linemen on the free-agent market, with nine years of experience as an NFL starter. A first-round draft choice (27th overall) with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012, Zeitler started in Cincinnati for five seasons, then spent two seasons with the Cleveland Browns (2017-18) before being traded to the Giants in 2018.
He has been extremely durable, starting all 16 games last season and missing just one game over the past six years. Since 2019, Pro Football Focus has given Zeitler the 17th highest grade among all NFL guards.
Zeitler was released by the Giants last week for salary cap reasons and will not count against the Ravens' compensatory picks for next year.
The Ravens have had the NFL's top rushing attack the past two seasons, and Zeitler is a physical run blocker who has the playing style and experience in the AFC North to make him a great fit in Baltimore.
The Ravens lost one of the best offensive linemen in team history at right guard when eight-time Pro Bowler Marshal Yanda retired following the 2019 season. Yanda's departure left a major void and three players started at right guard for the Ravens in 2020 – rookie Tyre Phillips, Patrick Mekari and Ben Powers.
Baltimore's starting offensive line for next season has yet to be determined, but Zeitler's addition gives the Ravens more leeway should they elect to move starting left guard Bradley Bozeman to center. The Ravens have two Pro Bowl offensive linemen in left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. However, Brown has made it clear he wants to be traded to a team where he can play left tackle, making his long-term future in Baltimore uncertain. Even if Brown remains with the Ravens, Head Coach John Harbaugh made it clear during his first post-season press conference that having a top offensive line would always be a priority. In addition to having the NFL's most run-heavy attack, Baltimore wants to provide elite pass protection for franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"I do believe that the offensive line is very important to us," Harbaugh said. "It's very important to any offense. If you don't have a good offensive line, I don't think you're winning any games in this league, and your quarterback better be getting the ball out super-fast. So, our offensive line is, to me, a primary piece to what we try to do, and we need to build the very best offensive line that we can.