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Late for Work 6/30: Which Offensive Free Agents Might the Ravens Target?

RB Kenyan Drake

Which Offensive Free Agents Might the Ravens Target?

Popular opinion is that the Ravens will sign a veteran edge rusher and/or cornerback before the start of the regular season. However, that doesn't preclude them from adding players at other positions.

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec and The Baltimore Sun’s C.J. Doon each identified free agents the Ravens could target. Here's a look at five who play on offense:

QB Teddy Bridgewater

Zrebiec: "The 30-year-old has struggled to stay healthy in recent years and has bounced around quite a bit. However, he's experienced, has won plenty of games in the NFL, is regarded as a good teammate and is a guy Lamar Jackson knows and respects. The Ravens spent the early part of free agency trying to add a quality veteran quarterback and couldn't close a deal. They eventually signed 37-year-old Josh Johnson to compete with Tyler Huntley for the No. 2 quarterback job. Neither was all that impressive in recent practices. If Bridgewater is healthy and Ravens officials deem him an upgrade over Huntley and Johnson, signing him makes some sense."

RB Dalvin Cook

Doon: "J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are set to carry most of the workload, but the Ravens know better than any team how quickly those plans can fall apart. Further complicating matters is the fact that neither running back is under contract beyond this season, a potential source of frustration between Dobbins and the team. In recent years, the Ravens have relied on journeymen such as Kenyan Drake, Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Le'Veon Bell to carry the ball because of injuries. Cook, a four-time Pro Bowl selection recently released by the Minnesota Vikings, has been a steady contributor throughout his six NFL seasons, averaging 4.7 yards per carry."

RB Kenyan Drake

Zrebiec: "The list of available running backs includes Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette. The reality is the Ravens aren't looking for a lead back. They like the one-two punch of Dobbins and Edwards. Their projected No. 3 back, Justice Hill, is one of their better special teams players. The other two running backs on the roster are undrafted rookies Keaton Mitchell (East Carolina) and Owen Wright (Monmouth). Dobbins and Edwards will both enter the season with injury questions, and the Ravens could use more insurance at the position. Drake had 571 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in 12 games for the Ravens last season. He was quality depth and brought a veteran presence. It shouldn't cost much to get him to reprise that role."

WR DeAndre Hopkins

Zrebiec: "Let's be clear: The Ravens did their due diligence on Hopkins earlier this offseason, but there's been no evidence in recent weeks that they are involved in contract talks with the 31-year-old receiver. It also seems highly unlikely that will change given the reports that Hopkins is seeking a deal similar to or in excess of Odell Beckham Jr.'s one-year, $15 million pact with Baltimore. The Ravens appear content with their offseason wide receiver makeover. It sure is fun, though, for fans and reporters to continue to speculate about the prospects of adding Hopkins to the mix."

G Dalton Risner

Doon: "Another offseason, another battle to determine the starting left guard. While the Ravens have some promising options, most notably rookie sixth-round draft pick Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu, there is not a clear choice to replace Ben Powers. In a critical season for the offensive line and new coordinator Todd Monken, would the Ravens feel comfortable handing a starting spot to an unproven player? Risner, 27, started 62 games at guard for the Denver Broncos over the past four seasons and graded at an above-average level."

The Ravens could add another cornerback before the start of the season. Here's who they could pick from.

Baltimore Ravens Editorial Director Ryan Mink
Ryan Mink

Editorial Director

Which Newcomer to the AFC North Will Make the Biggest Impact?

With all four teams in the AFC North making significant additions this offseason, ESPN asked its AFC North beat reporters which newcomer will make the biggest impact. Each reporter had a different answer.

"How about a two-fer: wide receivers Beckham and Zay Flowers," Steelers reporter Brooke Pryor wrote. "Yes, the Ravens still have major questions on offense with the addition of Monken, but Lamar Jackson having explosive receivers at his disposal will have a massive impact on the landscape of the division — especially after a season in which no Ravens wide receiver had more than 460 receiving yards, and the position group accounted for less than half of the team's total receiving yards."

Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley and Bengals reporter Ben Baby went with former Ravens.

"Orlando Brown Jr. The former Baltimore Raven isn't a top-10 tackle in the league, but he represents a significant upgrade when it comes to protecting Joe Burrow's blind side," Hensley wrote. Brown's pass block win rate of 91.8% last year was remarkably better than Jonah Williams (83.5%), who was the Bengals' left tackle last season. How important is this? Burrow is 17-3 (.850) in his career when being sacked fewer than three times."

Baby wrote: "The Browns adding [Za'Darius] Smith to their group of pass-rushers that already features Myles Garrett is my pick. Smith was productive in his lone season with the Vikings last year after missing all but one game because of a back injury the season before. While his pass rush win rate ranked 58th among edge rushers, Smith recorded 10 sacks, good for 19th in the league and his third career Pro Bowl selection."

Browns reporter Jake Trotter chose Monken and Browns Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz.

"Both are tasked with turning around units that underperformed last season," Trotter wrote. "Schwartz won a Super Bowl in Philly, while Monken is coming off a championship-laden stint at the University of Georgia. The Browns' defense and Ravens' offense have the talent to be among the best in the NFL — if the coordinators can get them to play up to their potential."

The reporters also discussed the division's biggest lingering question and which team is the biggest threat to two-time defending AFC North champion Cincinnati.

Ravens Outside Top 10 in ESPN's Roster Rankings

Despite having what appears to be a loaded roster, the Ravens were only No. 11 in ESPN analysts Mike Clay and Seth Walder's roster rankings.

Of the 10 teams ranked ahead of Baltimore, seven are in the AFC, including the Browns (No. 9) and Jets (No. 10), who both went 7-10 last season.

Walder said the X-factor for the Ravens is their wide receiver room.

"You could make the case for Rashod Bateman, Zay Flowers or Odell Beckham Jr. being in this spot," Walder wrote. "All three present upsides and come with their own risks and unknowns. Baltimore's season may rest on what it gets out of those three wideouts."

Clay cited a lack of cornerback depth as the Ravens' biggest concern.

"Baltimore has long been a defensive powerhouse, but that is in serious doubt this season, with concern spots at all levels," Clay wrote. "In fact, I easily could've gone with edge rusher or interior DL here. Marlon Humphrey is a terrific No. 1 corner, but Marcus Peters' offseason departure leaves Brandon Stephens, Damarion Williams and Rock Ya-Sin as the top candidates for No. 2 and nickel duties."

Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ Garrett Podell ranked all 32 teams by how much they improved their respective rosters for the coming season and beyond. Despite signing Jackson to a contract extension and significantly upgrading the wide receivers room, the Ravens were ranked in the bottom half of the league at No. 18.

"There's still work to be done defensively," Podell wrote. "Current free agent pass-rusher Justin Houston was the only Raven to record six or more sacks last season (9.5), but he's 34 years old now. Currently, it appears as if Baltimore is banking on the development of 2021 first-round pick outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (24 years old) and 2022 second-round pick outside linebacker David Ojabo (23 years old). The Ravens would benefit from bringing Houston or Yannick Ngakoue, another former Raven, into the flock right before training camp."

Mark Andrews, Two Ex-Ravens Among Biggest Draft Steals of the Decade

ESPN ranked the 50 biggest draft steals of the past decade, and tight end Mark Andrews came in at No. 28.

Andrews, a 2018 third-round pick, was the 86th-overall selection and the fourth tight end selected.

"He had been projected to be a second-round pick, but it's worth noting his stock was affected by the uncertainty about his playing as a Type 1 diabetic," Reid wrote. "There haven't been any issues, and Andrews has become a star at his position; he caught over 100 balls in 2021 for 1,361 yards and nine trips to the end zone."

Two other Ravens picks made the rankings: outside linebacker Matthew Judon (2016 fifth round, No. 146 overall), was No. 31, and Brown Jr. (2018 third round, No. 83 overall) was No. 40.

Kyle Hamilton Makes's All-Under-25 Team

Safety Kyle Hamilton was named to writer Nick Shook’s All-Under-25 Team.

"Hamilton didn't really play a true safety spot for much of 2022, instead finding a role as a jack of all trades for Baltimore. Still, he earned PFF's top defensive grade among safeties, and now he's stepping into an expanded role," Shook wrote. "The physical traits that made him a tantalizing prospect coming out of Notre Dame have translated, and it will be interesting to see just how quickly he takes another step in Year 2."

Hamilton, 22, is the second-youngest player on the list.

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