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Takeaways From Day 1 of Free Agency

Baltimore Ravens safety Geno Stone (26) in action during the first half of the NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Houston Texans, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Baltimore.
Baltimore Ravens safety Geno Stone (26) in action during the first half of the NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Houston Texans, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Baltimore.

The "legal tampering" window opened with a bang Monday at noon.

Here are the biggest takeaways as they pertain to the Ravens:

Running backs flew off the shelves, but Derrick Henry remains and a new veteran became available.

So much for the running back market being slow to materialize.

When the day began, the Ravens were named among the "serious suitors" for Saquon Barkley. By the time it ended, Barkley and many of the other top options were gone.

With so many premier options on the market, teams pounced to get their guy on Day 1. To recap:

However, another talented running back entered the market. With the addition of Jacobs, the Packers released veteran Aaron Jones,

It didn't take long for reporters to name Baltimore as a potential fit for Jones considering the Ravens love to scoop up players released by other teams because they don't affect the compensatory pick formula.

Meanwhile, Derrick Henry flew under the radar. There was a report early in the day that the Cowboys weren't shopping at the top of the running back market. Then Monday night, CBS Sports' Josina Anderson reported that there is mutual interest between the Ravens and Henry.

A few Ravens free agents were scooped up fast.

It was inevitable that the Ravens would have free-agency losses with so many players on the market. What perhaps wasn't expected was how fast they went and which ones were first to get plucked.

Edwards was the first to go to the Chargers (two years, $6.5 million), followed by safety Geno Stone to the Bengals (two years, $15 million), and wide receiver/returner Devin Duvernay to the Jaguars (two years, $8.5 million). Later Monday evening, it was cornerback Ronald Darby, also to the Jaguars (two years, max $10 million), and guard John Simpson to the New York Jets (two years, up to $18 million).

There have not been any reports yet on linebacker Patrick Queen, who has enjoyed seeing his teammates get their paydays.

The first day made it clear that the Ravens will be in a strong position to get multiple compensatory picks next offseason. Baltimore will likely look to protect them.

Guards were paid big.

The guard market was not particularly deep and the top options got some massive reported deals.

The Panthers reportedly agreed to a five-year, $100 million deal with Robert Hunt. The Rams jumped on Jonah Jackson for a reported three-year, $51 million contract and Jon Runyan is going to the Giants for three years, $30 million. The Patriots are bringing back Michael Onwenu on a reported three-year, $57 million deal.

By nearly day's end, the first of the Ravens' two free agent guards, John Simpson, was swiped by the New York Jets. He's going to sign a two-year deal worth up to $18 million, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Kevin Zeitler remains a free agent, but he'll be at or near the top of the market when Day 2 opens.

Baltimore is in an offensive line rebuild and turning internally with Ben Cleveland, Sala Aumavae-Laulu, and Andrew Vorhees may be the solution, along with keeping the pipeline well-stocked via the draft, which is strong at guard.

Another option could be a reunion with Bradley Bozeman, who has reportedly been informed of his release from the Panthers. Bozeman played guard in Baltimore before moving to center.

The Ravens had good timing on the Justin Madubuike deal.

The Ravens got the four-year reported $98 million extension done with Justin Madubuike three days after putting the franchise tag on him.

The next day, the Chiefs agreed to a massive five-year, nearly $160 million deal with a reported $95 million guaranteed with Chris Jones.

On Monday, the Raiders worked out a reported four-year, $110 million deal with Christian Wilkins, who was the other premier defensive tackle available on the market.

It was beneficial for the Ravens to get the deal done with Madubuike before free agency opened because it cleared more cap space, giving them addition flexibility. It also may have been good to get out in front of two other huge deals that may have shifted the market.

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