Ravens’ next big target in free agency: offensive linemen

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens satisfied one of their biggest needs in a big way by signing running back Derrick Henry during the NFL’s free-agent frenzy this week.

Now, general manager Eric DeCosta needs to make sure the Ravens can block for Henry and protect quarterback Lamar Jackson.

DeCosta has vowed to improve the offensive line, whether through the draft or free agency.

“It’s always going to be a priority; that’s Coach [John] Harbaugh from 2008 on,” DeCosta said. “We have to have a big, strong, imposing offensive line. So, we’ll continue to build that out. Obviously, this year, we’re going to have, probably, some change on the offensive line in different ways. It remains to be seen exactly what that looks like, [but] we will have a plan.”

The Ravens are in need of depth and talent.

The Ravens traded right tackle Morgan Moses to the New York Jets and a fourth-round draft pick on Wednesday. In return, the Ravens will receive the Jets’ fourth-round pick (No. 112) and a sixth-round pick (No. 218). The Ravens have the versatile Pat Mekari and second-year player Daniel Faalele, who could step into the starting role as a stopgap.

The Ravens also need help at guard.

John Simpson, who started on the left side, signed a two-year deal reportedly worth up to $18 million with the Jets. His eight sacks allowed was the second most on the Ravens, but he played a team-high 1,159 snaps. Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu is behind Simpson on the Ravens’ depth chart and will compete for the starting job next season.

Kevin Zeitler made the Pro Bowl last season as the starting right guard, but he’s testing the free-agent market. The Ravens were not able to reach a deal with Zeitler earlier this offseason, so there are questions about their mutual interest. Ben Cleveland, who was selected by the Ravens in the third round (94th overall) of the 2021 NFL draft, will get an opportunity to compete for the starting job, but he has to show he can be a consistently effective player.

That leaves left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Lunderbaum as the only starters from last season. On Wednesday, Stanley agreed to rework his contract to reduce his cap hit of $26.2 million, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Other financial details were not disclosed. Stanley he team’s second-highest cap hit behind Jackson.

There are several tackles available on the free-agent market, including David Bakhtiari, Tyron Smith, Jonah Williams, Trenton Brown, and Charles Leno. However, each of those players is over 30.

At the guard position, there has already been a run on the players available in free agency. Kevin Dotson, the top-rated guard, re-signed with the Rams on a three-year, $48 million deal.

Some of the top free-agent guards include Greg Van Roten, Dalton Risner, Andrus Peat, and former Ravens James Hurst.

The Ravens will likely add offensive linemen in the draft, which begins April 25th.

“Fortunately, this is a deep draft class, as well, so we’ll have a lot of different options in different rounds [and] players that we like at the offensive line position – at tackle and also guard,” DeCosta said. “[It’s] probably unlikely that we’re going to draft a center very high. But I think there is a lot of depth along the way, specifically at the tackle position and the guard position, so that’s exciting. It really helps me as we look at what that offensive line is going to look like.”

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