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Offseason Team Previews

2022 Baltimore Ravens Offseason Preview

by Kyle Dvorchak
Updated On: February 24, 2022, 3:44 pm ET

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The final whistle of the Super Bowl marks the end of the 2021 season. That solidifies all draft positions and gets us looking to free agency as the next chance for teams to make significant changes to their rosters. In this series, I’ll break down the needs and goals of every team as it relates to the 2022 offseason. Included will be cap space, cut candidates, positions of need, and plenty of other useful stats and notes as we prepare for free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft. Special thanks to Over the Cap, Pro Football Reference, Pro Football Focus, and Ben Baldwin’s RBSDM.com for all of the useful stats they track and house. 

Ravens 2021 Recap

Sportsbooks had the Ravens pegged as an obvious Super Bowl contender ahead of the 2021 season, giving them +1400 odds to exit the year as champions. Lamar Jackson entered the year 30-7 as a starter in the regular season and the team exorcised its playoff demons in 2020, making it to the Division Round via a win over the Titans. Of course, when everything was pointing in the right direction, the train fell off the tracks. Jackson put together his worst year as a starter, making mistakes at a shocking rate while missing five games. The defense was derailed by injuries and nearly set the NFL record for passing yards allowed. It all culminated in the team’s first losing season in six years.

Key Offensive Stats

  • Points per game: 22.8 (17th)
  • Dropback EPA: .04 (19th)
  • Passing yards per game: 233 (13th)
  • Rush EPA: -.05 (11th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 146 (3rd)

 

Jackson’s struggles were multifaceted. Per Pro Football Focus, his big-time throw rate dropped by .7 percent while his turnover-worthy throw play remained constant. His sack rate of nine percent and interception rate just north of three percent were career-highs. Jackson’s rushing numbers were in line with his 2020 stats but he found the end zone just twice. Baltimore’s backfield was unable to equal Jackson’s production with rushing output of their own after the team lost three running backs to season-ending injuries in a span of 12 days. All three came just before the start of the season.

Key Defensive Stats

  • Points per game: 23.1 (19th)
  • Dropback EPA: .18 (27th)
  • Passing yards per game: 279 (32nd)
  • Rush EPA: -.12 (4th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 85 (1st)

 

Normally a dominant squad, Baltimore’s defense was among the league’s worst in 2021. The Ravens came within two yards of setting the record for passing yards allowed, though they did get an extra game to “accomplish” the “feat”. Injuries played a big role in the demise of their defense. Former All-Pro corners Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters were both lost to season-ending injuries. Starting safety DeShon Elliott suffered the same fate while minor injuries and COVID issues further depleted their depth. With backup corners across the board, teams picked Baltimore apart through the air. Only the Jets allowed a higher rate of 20-yard passes.

Ravens 2022 Offseason

Notes

 

Cap Space

$8.8 million

First Pick

No. 14

Total Draft Value

10th

Notable Free Agents

DE Calais Campbell, DT Brandon Williams, C Bradley BozemanCB Anthony Averett, S DeShon Elliott, OLB Justin Houston, MLB Josh Bynes, FB Patrick Ricard, WR Sammy Watkins, RB Devonta Freeman

Cut Candidates

OT Ali Villanueva ($6 million in savings), WR Miles Boykin ($2.5 million), CB Tavon Young ($5.8 million), OG Ben Powers ($2.5 million)

Notes: Baltimore's total draft value is the sum of the value of every pick they own using the Fitzgerald-Spielberger NFL Draft Trade Value Chart. The values are only estimates until the NFL announces compensatory picks. Cap savings are listed assuming the player is cut before June 1st.

The Ravens are light on cap space but should get a handful of third and fourth-round compensatory picks once the NFL announces them. Addressing the offensive line will be a part of the game plan for Baltimore whether or not they cut Powers and Villanueva. If both are gone, adding to the trenches could become their top priority.

Team Needs

Defensive Tackle
The Ravens are a base 3-4 defense and are losing a handful of bigs for their defensive line. Even if some are brought back in free agency, the team could use extra pressure from their trenches. They didn’t have a tackle or end post more than two sacks in 2021. 

Outside Linebacker
With Houston a free agent and Tyus Bowser recovering from a torn Achilles’, the Ravens no longer have any sense of security at outside linebacker. Bowser led the Ravens in sacks while Houston was third in on the team. This feels like an obvious spot for the Ravens to fill on the first two days of the draft. 

Offensive Tackle
Ronnie Stanley is a stud tackle but has played just seven games over the past two years. Both seasons have ended with Stanley going under the knife for ankle surgery. He will be their first option at left tackle but can’t be their only option. With Villanueva possibly on the chopping block as well, Baltimore should be looking to add multiple players with starting potential at tackle.

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Coaching Changes

The Ravens are swapping out long-time DC Don Martindale for Michigan’s Mike Macdonald. However, Macdonald was only with the Wolverines for a year, having previously spent seven years with the Ravens. Macdonald even talked about bringing his defense from Baltimore to Michigan so don’t expect much to change upon his return. Macdonald has preached about the need for versatility no matter where he’s been. A layup change will be to bring Patrick Queen in to rush the passer more. He ranked 19th in pressure rate and 15th in pass-rush grade among linebackers with at least 50 pass-rush snaps according to PFF. He was 23rd in pass-rush snaps and 26th in pass rush rate despite his quarterback-seeking prowess. Queen is 230 pounds and runs a 4.53 forty. Getting him barreling down on quarterbacks slightly more often is a must for a defense that will lose some talent this offseason. 

Macdonald has relayed his desire to stick with Baltimore's aggressive approach. The Ravens blitzed at the sixth-highest rate in 2021 and have been near the top of that list nearly every year under Martindale. As Macdonald noted in an interview for the team's site, he will also look to add more wrinkles of disguised pressure and fake pressure to keep offenses off balance. 

Offseason Outlook

If things broke right for the Ravens in 2021, they could have been a playoff team. Instead, Jackson struggled and the defense flopped. Baltimore isn't flush with resources for adding more players but they have one of the best rosters for a team that didn't make the playoffs. Their biggest offseason concern will be developing the talent they have. 

On offense, turning sacks and interceptions into Rashod Bateman catches would be huge. A first-round pick with elite metrics, Bateman should see more work, particularly as an outlet option for Jackson, in his second season. Macdonald has plenty of talent to work with on the other side of the ball as well. First-round pick Odafe Oweh forced three fumbles while adding five sacks but only played a rotational role. Baltimore has taken a total of 13 picks on Day One or Day Two of the draft over the past three years. The talent is there. It's time to see Baltimore make the most of it.