Ravens need to keep sack attack going at outside linebacker

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens received solid production this past season from their outside linebackers, who kept the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

The team would like to keep that momentum going next season with new defensive coordinator Zachary Orr.

One of the pressing issues is with Odafe Oweh, who is eligible for his fifth-year option, which would cost them a reasonable $12.1 million, according to overthecap.com. Oweh, a first-round pick in 2019, had five sacks and two forced fumbles over 13 games and has been lauded for his work ethic.

Wide receiver Rashod Bateman is also eligible for the team to pick up his fifth-year option, but general manager Eric DeCosta has been mum on the process.

In addition to Oweh, the Ravens also have big decisions to make on fellow outside linebackers Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, both of whom are eligible for free agency.

Clowney, 30, has rejuvenated his career in Baltimore and tied a career-high with 9 1/2 sacks. Clowney, who was selected as the first overall pick by the Texans in the 2014 NFL draft, might test the market because he could have put himself in a position for a high payday elsewhere.

He has a market value of one year, $7.3 million, according to Spotrac. However, he said that his priority, at this point of his career, is winning a championship.

 “I still feel good, and I still feel like I can play this game at a high level, and I still have a lot to prove to myself. I want to win a Super Bowl,” Clowney said. “I’m just going to continue to push towards that through my career.”  

Van Noy also had a strong season and set a career-high with nine sacks. He showed that he can still play at a high level at age 32 and the Ravens would consider bringing him back on a cap-friendly deal. Van Noy earned a base salary of $1 million last season.

DeCosta was able to sign Clowney and Van Noy as free agents, so he could perhaps have similar success finding those same types of players next season. He said the Raven’s system of keeping players fresh and putting them in positions to succeed helps linebackers such as Clowney and Van Noy thrive.

“That’s partly their own ability as players and their desire at this stage in their careers, but I also think it’s this place. Players come in here, and they’re part of our strength and conditioning program and the way that we practice and the way that we coach,” DeCosta said. “Other players and the vibe that this place has – you guys see it at practice every day – we’ve become a place where veteran players can come and succeed and really play well.”

The Ravens also expect David Ojabo to bounce back from a partially torn ACL that ended his season. Ojabo also dealt with a torn Achilles as a rookie and has played in only five games in his first two seasons. He has a huge upside, but he has to prove that he can stay on the field.

“[Ojabo] is going to be fine,” Oweh said. “We already know what we’re going to do to try to get better. He’s going to come back way stronger than what he was – physically, and mentally. We’re going to hit the stride rolling.” 

Tyus Bowser, who was a second-round pick (47th overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft, missed the entire year after offseason knee surgery. His future in Baltimore is murky at best.

Bowser only missed one game in his first five seasons. In 2021 he set career highs with seven sacks and 59 tackles. However, he tore his Achilles in the final game of the 2021 season and began 2022 on the physically unable to perform list but still had 13 tackles and two sacks over the final nine games.

“Unfortunately for Tyus, he couldn’t play this year,” DeCosta said. “[I] can’t really get into all the different specifics of that, as you guys know, how we handle the injuries. I think Tyus has probably talked about it in some way. He had an injury unfortunately and wasn’t able to play. We’ll have to continue to assess that in the coming weeks to see where he stands with that injury.

“[He’s] a great man [and] a good player for us. [It’s] just a tough deal for him this year, and we’ll have to deal with it.” 

The Ravens also have Tavius Robinson, who played  29 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie fourth-round pick, and is poised to play a bigger role in 2024. Undrafted rookie Malik Hamm made the team out of training camp but spent the year on injured reserve with an ankle injury and will also push for more playing time.


Trending Stories

Get daily coverage of the Ravens and Orioles from Peter Schmuck, Rich Dubroff and Todd Karpovich — from the press box to your inbox. 100% free. Unsubscribe at any time.



BaltimoreSports.com is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the Baltimore Orioles or the Baltimore Ravens. USA Today Sports Digital Properties Partner.

To Top