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Late for Work: ESPN Pundit Expects Ronnie Stanley to be Ravens' Left Tackle Next Season

T Ronnie Stanley
T Ronnie Stanley

ESPN Writer Doesn't See Ravens Moving on From Ronnie Stanley

General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged at the Combine yesterday that revamping the offensive line is the top priority this offseason. Perhaps the biggest question facing the unit is what the future holds for veteran left tackle Ronnie Stanley.

Stanley, who has been hampered by injuries the past four seasons after being named a first-team All-Pro in 2019, is a cap casualty candidate because he carries the second-highest cap hit heading into 2024 at $26.17 million.

While cutting Stanley, who is under contract for two more seasons, would bring the Ravens some cap relief, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler does not envision the team moving on from him.

"They've held on to him for this long, they let him fight through the injuries," Fowler said recently on Glenn Clark Radio. "They could have cut him before if they wanted to be aggressive, and they never did. I'm not saying he's the same player, but he's still uber-talented. If he can give you a decent amount of snaps every year, those snaps are probably going to be pretty good. I know he's not the same guy because of the injuries, but to replace him would cost just as much or more unless you can get a really good tackle in the draft, and it is a good tackle draft. High in the draft, you could have six or seven offensive tackles going Round 1.

"If they want to zap into that, I could maybe see it. ... But you're already losing [guard] Kevin Zeitler. I don't necessarily see them moving on. I know they can save a lot, but if I had to gauge right now I'd say they give it one more shot."

Cutting Stanley, who turns 30 next month, after June 1 would save $15 million with $11.2 million in dead money for 2024 and additional dead money in 2025, while cutting him before June 1 would save $8.3 million but would leave $17.8 million in dead money for 2024.

Zeitler and fellow starting guard John Simpson are pending free agents. Like Stanley, starting right tackle Morgan Moses, who turns 33 next week, was slowed by injuries in 2023 and is a cut candidate.

Do Ravens Face an Uphill Battle in 2024?

After finishing this past season with the best record in the NFL before losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship, will the 2024 Ravens take the next step and make it to the Super Bowl?

Or, with the near certainty of losing key players in free agency in addition to massive changes in the coaching staff, especially on defense, will they take a step back?

The “Good Morning Football” crew believes the Ravens will have an uphill battle next season.

"You had arguably the best defense in Baltimore in some time. You had the MVP. You had home-field advantage. You had the bye. You had all of that. And it still wasn't good enough," Ryan Leaf said. "So whatever the free-agent situation is, it's going to be an uphill battle because the Kansas City Chiefs still exist."

Leaf added that the AFC is loaded with good teams and the Ravens play in arguably the NFL's toughest division.

Peter Schrager said DeCosta did a masterful job last year in drafting wide receiver Zay Flowers and adding veterans such as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and outside linebackers Jadeveon Clowney, and Kyle Van Noy, but it will be a challenge to replicate that success.

"When you're talking about the free-agent exodus of players and you also have to rebuild the defensive staff, that is an uphill battle," Schrager said. "And if DeCosta hit .850 last year, you hope that he can do it again, but you're asking for lightning to strike twice in two straight offseasons. That's a difficult job even for one of the best front offices in football."

Jason McCourty said, "it's going to be an extremely uphill battle for them to get back to where they were this season," but he added that "as long as you have Lamar Jackson you have a shot."

Change is constant in the NFL, but the Ravens have proven adept at adapting and they have a strong core of returning players.

"We try to build this thing out so that we don't have windows opening and closing, and that's kind of been the Ravens' mindset – that we want to be a competitive, good team every single year," DeCosta said at the Combine. "That's what we aspire to, and I think we have a lot of the types of people in that locker room still, and we'll remain to have those types of guys to put us in a position to win every single year."

When Harbaugh was asked at the Combine about changes to the coaching staff, he said he's "really excited about the guys we have."

Looking at 'Boom-or-Bust' Free Agents With Ties to Ravens’s Matt Okada named 15 boom-or-bust free agents, and two Ravens, as well as two other players who have been linked to Baltimore, were mentioned. Here's a look:


"Clowney just had arguably the best season of his 10-year career after signing in Baltimore on a one-year, $2.5 million contract. He matched his career high with 9.5 sacks and posted the most pressures (71) and highest pressure rate (16.0%) of his career — or at least the portion of this career that Next Gen Stats has tracked such data (since 2016).

"Clowney has averaged just five sacks per season since entering the league — though, in fairness, his strength has always been in the run game — and hasn't made a Pro Bowl since 2018. He's earned a much bigger payday based on his 2023 play, but that also raises the bust bar heading into his age-31 season."

RB J.K. Dobbins

"The question for any team looking to sign Dobbins is simple: Will he be healthy? Since Baltimore drafted him in 2020, Dobbins has missed an unfortunate 42 of 67 possible regular-season games, mostly due to a significant knee injury in 2021 and a torn Achilles last year. Based on past precedent, both injuries are likely to affect long-term productivity, especially for a running back, which raises the risk moving forward.

"So where's the 'boom' with Dobbins? Consider this: The former Buckeye has averaged 5.8 yards per carry in his young career. That's the most in the Super Bowl era by a running back with at least 200 carries, ahead of Bo Jackson and Jamaal Charles, among others. Yeah, BOOM!"

RB Derrick Henry

"He's been one of the best and most productive running backs of the last decade, arguably of all time. But Father Time is undefeated, and Henry is now 30 years old. He posted a career-low 4.2 yards per carry last season (which is still quite good for what it's worth) and only managed five carries of 20-plus yards, his lowest total in a full season since 2018.

"While he may not be as explosive, Henry is still an absolute wrecking ball capable of shouldering a true bell-cow workload. In a more productive offense, Henry has enough juice to be one of the league's best backs. The obvious team to pair him with is Baltimore, though I could also see the Jets signing him as thunder to Breece Hall's lightning or the rival Texans picking him up to take pressure off C.J. Stroud."

DE Chase Young

"The No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft came sprinting out of the gate, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year and earning a Pro Bowl selection that season, on the back of 7.5 sacks and exceptional run defense. The encore was less inspiring, as Young tore his ACL and missed 22 games over the next two seasons, totaling 1.5 sacks in that span, and was summarily shipped off from Washington to San Francisco at the trade deadline last season. Given his pedigree and the flashes we've seen, Young could sign a short-term prove-it deal with the intent of solidifying himself as a star edge rusher and securing the true bag in a year or two. The question will be whether he can do so, given what we've seen the last few seasons.

"Some projections have Young signing for somewhere close to $15 million, which would put him just inside the top 20 at the position in average annual value, and the hottest target by far is the Baltimore Ravens — whose top three sack leaders from 2023 are all pending free agents. Putting him on the edge of an already elite defense (as he was with the Niners the latter half of last year) is probably the best-case scenario to finally realize his potential."

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