Ravens make tough decisions in letting veteran players go

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens made a couple of surprise moves this offseason by deciding not to re-sign Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zeitler and trading right tackle Morgan Moses to the New York Jets.

It left a huge void on the offensive line and added more challenges for general manager Eric DeCosta this offseason.

The Ravens were not confident that Zeitler, 34, and Moses, 34, could withstand another complete NFL season after battling injuries last year.

DeCosta plans to replace those players and boost the offensive line “with good, young, cheap, talented football players.”

 “That’s always going to be the priority, is the offensive line,” DeCosta said. “In 2008, when we hired [head coach] John [Harbaugh], one of the first things he said to me was, ‘We need a big, strong, physical, athletic offensive line,’ and that’s never really changed. So, that will be the mission in the coming weeks to build that out. I think we’re on our way.

“We have a good plan. We’re fortunate that this draft class is pretty good from that standpoint. I don’t want to call it historically strong, but it looks like a very strong crop of offensive linemen.”

Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum are the only returning starters on the offensive line.

The Ravens need to replace both starting guards and find a new starting right tackle.

Ben Cleveland will have the opportunity to take Zeitler’s spot on the right side of the line, but he will need to perform better and show up to training camp in shape.

Andrew Vorhees, who missed last season as a rookie with a knee injury, is a wild card to take a starting job at guard after being rated the highest-rated offensive lineman in the Pac-12 each of his final two years at USC.

At right tackle, the Ravens have Patrick Mekari and Daniel Faalele on the depth chart. The Ravens also like Mekari’s versatility to play guard and center, so he could stay in the main backup role.

Faalele, a fourth-round (110th overall) of the 2022 NFL draft, has to prove he can be the starter after adjusting to the speed and physicality of the NFL his first two seasons.

The Ravens are likely to take two or even three offensive linemen with their nine selections in this year’s draft. Some of the players who could fall to the Ravens with the 30th overall pick include Blake Fisher (Notre Dame), Graham Barton (Duke), Kiran Amegadjie (Yale), and Jordan Morgan (Arizona).

The Ravens’ goal is to have a deep offensive line by the 2024 regular-season opener.

“I say this every year, but as a wise man once said, ‘We don’t play games until September. We’ll be ready,’”  DeCosta said. 

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