Ravens Mailbag: What's the Biggest Offseason Need?


Downing: Whenever we're talking about offseason moves, I think it's a fine line of talking about the "biggest need," and entering coach-speak territory where "we need to improve everywhere." In looking at the Ravens roster, there are a few spots that you could make the case for being the team's most pressing need, and part of it depends on what the Ravens do with their own free agents.

I know you asked for one spot, but I'll give you three: Offensive line, wide receiver and pass rusher. During their end-of-season pressers, Head Coach John Harbaugh and General Manager Eric DeCosta both brought up the need to improve the protection for quarterback Lamar Jackson. The offensive line settled into a nice groove late in the season, but the group struggled in the playoff loss to the Bills. Centers Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura both had snapping issues this year – due in part to rough weather conditions – so it wouldn't surprise me if the Ravens brought in another center this offseason (more on that below). I could also see them bringing another quality guard into the mix.

Wide receiver is always an offseason talking point in Baltimore and this year is no different. The Ravens could certainly benefit from adding a proven receiver who can win one-on-one matchups and make contested catches. Based on the salary cap tightening this offseason, I wouldn't be surprised to see some quality veterans become available, and that's where the Ravens could pounce. And then at pass rusher, much of this depends on what happens with the Ravens own free agents. Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee are all free agents. If the Ravens were to lose all of them, or even three of them, then they'd likely need to address this position early in the draft.

Brown: Solidifying the interior offensive line will be one of the Ravens' top priorities this offseason, and obviously that includes addressing the center position. I expect them to explore all avenues to do it, whether it's through free agency, trade or the draft.

I think it's more likely that the Ravens will draft a center, rather than make a trade or sign a free agent. The Ravens have some young offensive linemen who are versatile, giving them options at center without bringing in someone new. Bradley Bozeman is capable of moving from left guard to center if need be, and I think Trystan Colon-Castillo showed promise in the two starts he had in 2020. I wouldn't rule out Patrick Mekari winning the starting job again next season either, despite the snapping issues he had during the playoff game against Buffalo. Mekari is a hard worker and he has vowed to eliminate that issue next season.

This could be a year where the Ravens draft a center. There are three prospects in the draft I'd keep an eye on – Landon Dickerson of Alabama, Josh Myers of Ohio State and Creed Humphrey of Oklahoma. All of them played for respected college programs that Baltimore loves to target. While they may pursue a veteran center if the price is right, I think Ravens would love to draft a young center who could develop into a starter and solidify the position.

Downing: I really liked the addition of Bryant last year and thought his return to football was one of the feel-good stories of the season. He worked his way up from the practice squad to the active roster and finished the season with six catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't make the huge impact that some Ravens fans envisioned with his signing, but he proved he could still play in the NFL. I wouldn't rule out bringing him back – especially if the Ravens were to lose veteran Willie Snead IV in free agency – but I don't see his return as a huge priority either. I expect the Ravens to look for ways to address the receiver position through free agency, the draft or a trade, and if they are able to do that, then they may pass on re-signing Bryant. He's probably a No. 3 receiver at this point of his career, and the decision to bring him back will likely depend on the overall depth of the receiving corps.

Brown: Head Coach John Harbaugh said he didn't know of any players that wouldn't be ready for training camp, so I'd expect Jake Breeland to be recovered by then. I think Eli Wolf and Breeland will both get a chance to compete to be the No. 3 tight end, but nothing for them is guaranteed.

The Ravens definitely want to have a third tight end who plays regular snaps, which would add more versatility to the offense. The tight end position is a huge part of Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman's scheme. Lining up in multiple tight-end formations makes it harder for defenses to read what the Ravens will do prior to the snap, and it can create matchups in the passing game that Baltimore can exploit. The Ravens also like to use their tight ends to strengthen their blocking at the point of attack, and Lamar Jackson likes throwing to tight ends.

Mark Andrews is one of the league's best tight ends and Nick Boyle, who recently signed a contract extension, is an elite blocking tight end who has improved as a receiver every season. Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard can also play tight end, so the Ravens don't need to force a young player onto the field unless he's ready. Even if the Ravens don't draft a tight end, Breeland and Wolf will need to make the most of their reps during training camp to prove they deserve a role.

Related Content