As the NFL’s legal tampering period opens Monday afternoon, there are few certainties about the Ravens’ plans. One of them, though, is obvious: They’re prepared to lose a lot of talent.

Such is the cost of doing business in the NFL — especially with megadeal after megadeal piling up on the Ravens’ salary cap. And when the best way to add draft picks is through the compensatory-pick process. And when one of the best seasons in franchise history has made everyone a little more interested than usual in Ravens’ free agents.

How general manager Eric DeCosta and team officials fill out their 2024 roster for another potential Super Bowl run will depend on how the free-agent market develops, how their draft board stacks up and how they feel about their in-house options. Here’s a look at where the Ravens’ next step could be at key positions this offseason.


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley (2) signals a play during the third quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Pending free agents: Tyler Huntley, Josh Johnson

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Next step: Draft. The Ravens thought highly enough of Johnson that they included him on their season-opening 53-man roster last season. But with Huntley headed to free agency, where he’s likely to command a deal outside the Ravens’ price range, and Johnson set to turn 38 in May, the front office may look to the draft for a reset.

Malik Cunningham’s athleticism makes him an interesting developmental option, but he still has to prove he’s backup-quarterback material. He was undrafted out of Louisville and did not attempt a pass in his rookie season over his two appearances with the New England Patriots and Ravens. DeCosta likely wouldn’t look for a quarterback in the draft before Day 3, but starter Lamar Jackson’s injury history suggests it should be a serious consideration.

Running back

Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) scores a touchdown during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, bringing the game to 26-0. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Pending free agents: Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, Dalvin Cook

Path: Free agency and the draft. With just one healthy running back under contract through 2024 — Justice Hill, who played 38.7% of the offensive snaps last season — the Ravens have to make moves here. A crowded free-agent class should keep costs down, but how much will the Ravens be willing to spend on a back who might not get more than 10 to 15 carries a game? According to Pro Football Focus, Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs are projected to command multiyear deals worth more than $10 million annually, with Derrick Henry not far behind. Lower-tier targets like Tony Pollard, D’Andre Swift and Devin Singletary could be more reasonably priced.

DeCosta has expressed some reservations about this year’s running back draft class, saying at the NFL scouting combine last month that the pool is “probably not as deep as some other positions that we’ll see in this year’s draft class.” But even if the draft lacks blue-chip prospects, analysts say there’s value in the middle rounds.

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“The Ravens do a better job than maybe anyone in the NFL at finding value in the middle rounds,” ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller, who called this year’s class of running back prospects “really good,” said in a conference call last month. “So if they do decide to draft a running back, there’s not a bad pick between round three and round four. I think everyone would be a good fit. When you have Lamar Jackson back there, that makes any running back a fit, I feel like.”

Wide receiver

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) attempts a catch in the end zone while playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

Pending free agents: Odell Beckham Jr., Laquon Treadwell

Path: Draft. The Ravens have already made one offseason move here, re-signing Nelson Agholor to a one-year, $3.8 million contract. DeCosta said at the combine that the Ravens would “just kind of assess and see what happens over the next couple of weeks” with Beckham, who finished second on the team in receiving yards (565) and first in yards per catch (16.1). Added coach John Harbaugh: “You never know with a guy like Odell. … I’ve got my fingers crossed. We’ll see.”

If Beckham’s price tag exceeds the Ravens’ interest — PFF projects him to get a one-year, $7 million deal — they might not have the appetite to search out an impact player. Kendrick Bourne, who was projected to get a deal worth $7 million annually, agreed to an extension Sunday with the New England Patriots worth up to a reported $11 million annually. There are a handful of complementary receivers available who should cost between $4 million and $8 million annually, but they’re unsigned for a reason: injuries, limited production, diminishing athleticism.

As much as Josh Reynolds (608 receiving yards in 2023) or K.J. Osborn (540 yards) might help round out the Ravens’ receiver room, there’s a need for long-term roster replenishment. If Rashod Bateman’s fifth-year option is not exercised this spring, Zay Flowers would be the Ravens’ only wide receiver under contract beyond next season. The team needs to add at least one in the draft next month, and a deep class of prospects should give it options on Day 1 or Day 2.

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Baltimore Ravens guard John Simpson (76) sits on the bench after the Ravens’ 33-31 loss to the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Pending free agents: Kevin Zeitler, John Simpson

Path: In-house options and the draft. The Ravens are poised to enter next season with a new starting guard duo. Zeitler, a Pro Bowl selection at right guard in 2023, should be one of the top interior linemen available in free agency. Simpson, meanwhile, is projected by PFF to get a deal worth over $6 million annually after a bounce-back year at left guard.

The free agents expected to come in below that price point are typically inconsistent, old, injury-prone or some combination thereof. The Ravens could take their time to gauge the guard market, waiting for potential contributors to hit free agency over the next few weeks and months, when there could be less competition on the open market.

But there are also internal candidates. Ben Cleveland fared well in his two starts at right guard last season. Ravens coaches have also spoken highly of Sala Aumavae-Laulu and Andrew Vorhees, though it’s unclear whether they project as starting-level options in 2024. With so much uncertainty surrounding the Ravens’ plans at offensive tackle, they’ll likely need to take at least two linemen in the draft, ideally one by Day 2.

Inside linebacker

Pending free agent: Patrick Queen, Del’Shawn Phillips, Malik Harrison

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Path: In-house and free agency.

No free-agent inside linebacker will have a more robust market this week than Queen, the All-Pro who’s expected to leave Baltimore after his breakout season. In Trenton Simpson, though, the Ravens have a promising replacement. And Phillips, who led the Ravens in special teams snaps last season, seems like an obvious re-signing target.

Outside linebacker

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (24) attempts to block a pass by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew (10) at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Pending free agents: Jadeveon Clowney, Kyle Van Noy

Path: Free agency. It’s not just Clowney and Van Noy, who combined for 18.5 sacks last season, who could be elsewhere in 2024. Fellow outside linebacker Tyus Bowser is a likely salary cap casualty. Harrison, who played most of his snaps as an edge defender, is a pending free agent as well.

The Ravens have found great value in free agency over the years, and they’ll need to look there again to fill out a depth chart headlined by Odafe Oweh, Tavius Robinson and the injury-prone David Ojabo. Clowney and Van Noy could be prime targets. Clowney had a breakout year in Baltimore, but his career-high-tying 9.5 sacks could ignite a bidding war that the Ravens can’t win. Van Noy, meanwhile, turns 33 later this month and might opt to sit out the opening waves of free agency, as he did last season.

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While the Ravens have been connected to potential first-round edge rushers like Missouri’s Darius Robinson and Penn State’s Chop Robinson, high-end rookie production for Day 2 and Day 3 picks is rare. There are surer bets in free agency, where a handful of plug-and-play edge rushers could be available for significantly less than $10 million annually, including Andrew Van Ginkel, Denico Autry, A.J. Epenesa and Derek Barnett.

Defensive back

Baltimore Ravens safety Geno Stone (26) catches an interception during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.
Baltimore Ravens safety Geno Stone (26) catches an interception during the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Pending free agents: Geno Stone, Ronald Darby, Arthur Maulet, Rock Ya-Sin, Ar’Darius Washington, Daryl Worley, Kevon Seymour, Travon Mullen

Path: Free agency. Stone played 82.2% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps last season. Darby played 38.2%. Maulet played 35.2%. Even Ya-Sin played 24.1%. Worley and Seymour, when healthy, were regulars on special teams.

The Ravens have solid starting duos at cornerback (Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens) and safety (Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams), but injuries in their secondary have been inevitable in recent years. The Ravens will also need a fifth starter in their secondary, as their nickel defense has replaced their base defense (four defensive backs) as their default configuration.

While Stone’s expected to seek out a starting job elsewhere in a rapidly crowding safety market, the Ravens could prioritize re-signing Darby and/or Maulet at cornerback. (Washington, a Week 1 starter and exclusive-rights free agent, could be retained with a one-year tender worth $1.1 million.) Worley could also be a cheap replacement option if Stone leaves.

The Ravens’ activity in the free-agent cornerback market will reflect in part their confidence in Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion “Pepe” Williams. The 2022 fourth-round picks were limited by injuries last season, with Armour-Davis appearing in only eight games and Williams in just one.

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

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