Ravens will prioritize offensive line even with potential shakeup

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens’ offensive line played well throughout the 2023 season, despite dealing with numerous injuries that forced them to rotate players later in the year.

The Ravens had the NFL’s top rushing attack in the regular season, averaging 163.8 yards per game. And quarterback Lamar Jackson passed for a career-high 3,678 yards with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Jackson also led the team in rushing with 821 yards and another five scores.

But the offensive line could look much different next season because of free agency and salary-cap issues. General manager Eric DeCosta said that maintaining the strength of that unit is a priority, especially to ensure the health of Jackson.

“The offensive line is always going to be something that we stress here,” DeCosta said. “We’re going to continue to look at that every single year. Particularly as you get older, it gets tougher and tougher for guys to stay healthy.”

Both of the Ravens’ starting guards —Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson — and backup center Sam Mustipher are among 22 of the team’s unrestricted free agents.

Zeitler, 33, earned his first Pro Bowl appearance in his 12 years in the NFL. He earned the second-highest pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus of all guards this past season behind Kansas City’s Joe Thuney, who is playing in the Super Bowl.

Zeitler said his preference is to stay in Baltimore, and DeCosta wants to re-sign him.

“He’s one of those guys that we’ll continue to talk to,” DeCosta said. “He and I met [after the season]. We’ll see what that looks like in the coming weeks, but as I said, the offensive line is going to always be a preference.”

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley, 29, and right tackle Morgan Moses, 32, were rotated with backups Patrick Mekari and Daniel Faalele because of health and durability concerns.

Moses is eligible for free agency in 2025 and he will have a base salary of $5,5 million next season and a $6.96 million cap hit, according to spotrac.com. If the Ravens decide to part ways with Moses, Mekari, who will make a base salary of $4.6 million, could move into the starting role before being eligible for free agency in 2025.

Stanley has two years left on his deal that pays him an $11 million base salary in 2024 and $16 million in 2025. He would cost the Ravens almost $18 million if they cut him before June 1st. DeCosta expects Stanley to be part of the team next season.

“Ronnie, no fault of his own, he has had a series of injuries that have hurt him [and] hurt his performance – the ankle and then a series of knee injuries,” DeCosta said. “So, that’s definitely been a factor. I love Ronnie, he’s still a talented player. I think this is going to be a big offseason for him getting himself healthy [and] getting himself strong again [and] coming back in good football shape.”

Starting center Tyler Linderbaum made the Pro Bowl in just his second year, and he appears to be the long-term answer at that position.

The Ravens will try to add reinforcements through the NFL draft.

“We’ll spend a lot of resources and a lot of time talking [about] what that’s going to look like,” DeCosta said. 

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