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Late for Work: Reaction to Ravens' Day 1 Free Agency Losses

RB Gus Edwards
RB Gus Edwards

Reaction to Ravens' Day 1 Free Agency Losses

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec told Ravens fans two days ago what to expect during the early part of free agency, and his words proved prescient when the legal tampering period began yesterday.

Zrebiec wrote: "A typical start to free agency for the Baltimore Ravens usually goes something like this: Several of their better free agents agree to terms with other teams within the first 48 hours of the market opening. The Ravens are mostly quiet, re-signing a few of their own free agents to modest deals while waiting for the prices to come down and the compensatory picks to build up. Panic sets in with the fan base, which predicts pending doom for the team and questions if General Manager Eric DeCosta is snoozing through the start of the new league year. Lather, rinse and repeat.

"When the legal tampering period begins Monday at noon ET, the Ravens won't be one of the more aggressive teams on the open market, bidding on a plethora of premium free agents. DeCosta and company don't believe in building the team through free agency, and they again lack the salary-cap flexibility to get into bidding wars for many top players."

The final tally yesterday: the Ravens reportedly agreed to terms to bring back linebacker Malik Harrison while losing running back Gus Edwards, safety Geno Stone, offensive tackle John Simpson, cornerback Ronald Darby, and wide receiver/return specialist Devin Duvernay.

Here's what pundits are saying about the Ravens' losses in free agency:

Top Available Running Backs Down to Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, J.K. Dobbins

One of the big stories yesterday was that the top free agent running backs flew off the shelves.

The Ravens, who are in the market for a starting-caliber running back, were often linked to Saquon Barkley and Derrick Henry, the two biggest names in free agency. While Henry remains available, Barkley reportedly is signing a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

It was noted in yesterday’s Late for Work that the Ravens reportedly were among Barkley's "serious suitors." However, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz reported that Barkley's decision came down to the Eagles, Houston Texans, and Chicago Bears.

As for Henry, the Ravens engaged in talks with him yesterday, according to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson.

After the Green Bay Packers released Aaron Jones yesterday, several pundits linked him to the Ravens, but he has agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings on a one-year, $7 million deal, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported.

J.K. Dobbins remains a free agent. Joe Mixon has been traded to the Texans.

Tee Higgins Said He'd Like to Play With Lamar Jackson, But Don't Get Your Hopes Up

Amid the free-agent frenzy yesterday, wide receiver Tee Higgins reportedly requested a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals, who applied the franchise tag to him two weeks ago.

When Higgins was asked by NBC Sports' Lawrence Jackson Jr. last month which quarterbacks he'd like to play with besides teammate Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson was among the four players mentioned.

Higgins, who had the best game of his career against the Ravens in 2021 (12 receptions, 194 yards, two touchdowns), catching passes from Jackson is enticing, but also highly unlikely.

It could take giving up a first-round pick to acquire Higgins, and it's hard to imagine the Ravens doing that. It's also nearly unfathomable that the Ravens would (or could) afford to pay him. Not to mention the fact that the Ravens are probably the last team the Bengals would trade him to, if they would even consider trading him at all.

Tyus Bowser Says He'll Play Next Season, Hopes It's With Ravens

Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, who missed the entire 2023 season with an undisclosed knee injury, recently gave a health update to Aaron Wilson, who covers the NFL for the NBC affiliate in Houston.

"I'll definitely be back next season," Bowser said. "I've been able to figure out what the problem is. … I had surgery, just a quick knee scope.

"It will be exciting just to get myself back healthy, back to myself, because I know I still have it in me to be able to do even more than what I've done in the past seven years that I've been there."

Bowser, who is entering the final year of his contract, is perhaps the leading candidate to be a cap casualty. The Ravens would clear $5.5 million in cap space while eating $2 million in dead money by releasing Bowser, according to Spotrac.

Bowser said he is hoping to be back in Baltimore.

"I love it up there," Bowser said. "The Ravens have been so good to me. Love the coaching staff, the players. …. Hopefully I'm back up there next year, so we'll see how it goes."

Bowser, 28, recorded career-high seven sacks in 2021 but has played just nine games since.

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