INDIANAPOLIS — Washington offensive lineman Troy Fautanu can take on a nose tackle. The first-round talent can take on an edge rusher. He’s prepared to protect his future offense up the middle and from threats on the outside. He — or a player like him — could be the answer to a lot of the Ravens’ questions heading into the 2024 season.

There is a world in which Pro Bowl center Tyler Linderbaum could look to his left and to his right in training camp this summer and not have a single face next to him from the 2023 starting offensive line. The top two guards, Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson, are pending free agents. The top two tackles, Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses, are potential salary cap casualties.

For a team that led the league in rushing in 2023 and needs its quarterback healthy, a weak line is not an option. It’s always a priority — coach John Harbaugh has repeated a version of the same refrain for going on 16 years: “The offensive line is where it starts” — but the potential for complete turnover along the line moves the position group up the Ravens’ offseason to-do list.

The Ravens have committed resources to their offensive line over the years, backing up their win-in-the-trenches philosophy. They’ve drafted a lineman in the first three rounds in five of the past eight years. They took a chance on Zeitler, a veteran looking to get his career back on track, and Moses, another veteran, in free agency.

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But the Ravens are victims of unfortunate timing. All of their starters, except Linderbaum, have question marks. Simpson and Zeitler’s contracts are expiring after the same season when Stanley and Moses were limited by injuries. While Stanley’s lower-body injuries are an annual concern, Moses’ upper-body injury last season snapped the NFL’s third-longest iron-man streak among active offensive linemen.

Simpson and Zeitler are unlikely to come back to Baltimore with the Ravens tight against the cap. (All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Madubuike is expected to receive the franchise tag, worth $22.1 million, wiping out much of the Ravens’ spending power.) The Ravens had the chance to sign Zeitler, who earned a Pro Bowl nod this past season, to an extension before his contract voided last month but failed to do so. Now that he’s in the free agent market, Zeitler could command more money than the Ravens can afford. Pro Football Focus projects he’ll make $7.5 million a year.

Simpson was a one-year starter in Baltimore, but he made his way up PFF’s rankings of the top free agents. Over 1,118 snaps played, he allowed only one sack and five quarterback hits. PFF projects he can earn a contract worth $5.3 million a year.

Stanley and Moses are experienced, reliable players when healthy — but both are getting older, making their recent injury history more problematic. They’re also expensive. Stanley has the second-highest cap hit next season ($26.2 million). Releasing him would create $8.3 million in cap savings — and leave the Ravens with $17.8 million in dead money on their cap. If he’s designated as a post-June 1 cut, the Ravens would create $15 million in savings and push $11.2 million onto the 2024 cap.

Moses has a more modest cap hit ($7 million) entering the final year of his deal, but he’d count for just $1.5 million in dead money if released. The Ravens’ options at tackle beyond their top two are limited; Patrick Mekari is best served as a swing tackle, and Daniel Faalele, while improved in Year 2, struggled in pass protection.

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“You’ve got to stay young, but you’ve also got to have great veteran presence, as well, [on] your offensive line and every other position,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said Tuesday at the NFL scouting combine.

Even if they retain one or both of their starting tackles, they will need to address multiple positions along the line, making that one of the biggest questions of the offseason.

Center Tyler Linderbaum will be back in 2024. It is uncertain if any other starter on the offensive line will join him. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

“There is going to be some rebuilding that is going to have to be done in there, and we’re getting to it already,” Harbaugh said Tuesday.

Luckily for the Ravens, this draft class features a good selection of linemen — or so DeCosta has informed Harbaugh, who said he only recently started watching tape of 2024 prospects. But that won’t be the only solution they look at.

“It remains to be seen exactly what that [change on the offensive line] looks like, [but] we will have a plan,” DeCosta said. “Fortunately, this is a deep draft class, as well, so we’ll have a lot of different options in different rounds, players that we like at the offensive line position — at tackle and also guard.”

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Various mock drafts have predicted the Ravens will go for a Day 1 tackle, such as Georgia’s Amarius Mims, while others have bet on a Day 2 or Day 3 guard, such as Kansas State’s Cooper Beebe. The Ravens could certainly go for a player who excels in one area and build from there, whether that’s in later rounds, free agency or the veterans already on their roster.

Going with a player who can pivot from position to position, like Fautanu, is another potential solution. Mekari did not win a starting job this past season, but his versatility was a key component of the Ravens’ success. As the team dealt with Stanley and Moses’ injuries, it slid Mekari in where needed. Mekari is under contract through next season and can fill in as other linemen develop.

The Ravens could also pivot in an entirely different direction with their first-round pick, going for a defensive lineman or a wide receiver. But, even if the Ravens don’t call an offensive lineman’s name at pick No. 30, they will be making that call soon after and perhaps more than once.

“The draft can help a lot, certainly with the offensive line,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be probably the most important thing we do on offense.”

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