What’s the State of the Ravens Nation, you ask? Disappointed, but with nearly unlimited potential
Here are your 2019 Ravens Final Stats:
Result: AFC North Champion
2019 Regular season record: 14-2
2019 Scoring Offensive Rank: 1st 33.2 PPG
2019 Scoring Defensive Rank: 3rd 17.6 PPG
2020 Draft First Pick: 28
Coach: John Harbaugh
The Offseason Scenario
If there’s one team in the entire league that just can’t wait to get back to banging heads, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. A runaway Super Bowl favorite that lead the league in almost every meaningful offensive statistic, the Ravens came up short in the divisional round, falling to an upstart Titans team that simply wanted it more. They’ll lick their wounds and come back, though I’m not sure they’ll be able to make many roster moves to get more talented. It’s hard to improve on straight A’s, you know.
Some may fault Coach Harbaugh for letting his team some in overconfident against the Titans, but I simply don’t see it. The Titans weren’t a surprise. They had just upended the Patriots a week before and did all the same things in Baltimore. Sometimes, you just get pushed around. With another year to develop the cast and scheme around Lamar Jackson, I doubt that the Ravens will falter in 2020.
Free Agent Frenzy
Here’s where things get interesting…The Ravens have a lot of free agents, but few, if any, are irreplaceable talents. The top of the priority list must be cornerback Jimmy Smith, who seems likely to test the waters in free agency, and OLB Matthew Judon, who Baltimore will want to keep after a career season with just under ten sacks.
Smith might find greener pastures, financially anyway. The Ravens have a lot of cap space tied up in the defense, and Smith just didn’t have a huge role after his knee strain cost him the first six games of the season. Smith was one of the highest paid Raven defenders this season, so it’s unlikely he’s looking for a pay cut to stay in purple.
Judon is clearly a player on the rise, and the franchise tag might seem tempting, but the Ravens are low on cap space (+/- $31 million), and Judon would suck up around $16 million if tagged. It might be better to lock him down long term and try to retain some flexibility as free agency swirls.
Seriously Premature Draft Hunches
Like most teams that go 14-2 and have the number one seed, Baltimore just isn’t that needy. With the top ranked scoring offense and third-ranked scoring defense, Baltimore will be drafting for depth and potential. I’d love to see them take a long hard look at some pass catching running backs. D’Andre Swift from Georgia and Clyde Edwards-Helaire from LSU would both provide some depth at tailback and versatility in the passing game. Weapons like this would be pure gold in Baltimore’s run-first system.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.