Tag Archive | "Ravens"

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Ravens find surprising trade partner for defensive end Chris Wormley

Posted on 20 March 2020 by Luke Jones

As if the world weren’t strange enough these days, the Ravens have made a trade with their biggest rival.

Defensive end Chris Wormley has been traded along with a 2021 seventh-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fifth-round selection in next year’s draft. It marks only the second time these AFC North rivals have executed a trade and the first since Baltimore acquired offensive lineman Bernard Dafney for a seventh-round pick in 1997.

The deal is pending a physical.

Despite making seven starts and playing 448 snaps last season, Wormley, 26, was likely to see a diminished role with general manager Eric DeCosta acquiring standout defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers this week. The 2017 third-round pick from Michigan was entering the final year of his rookie contract and scheduled to make $2.133 million in base salary, an amount that will now be credited to Baltimore’s salary cap.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Wormley recorded 33 tackles, 1 1/2 sacks, and two pass breakups last season and collected 54 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, and seven pass breakups in 39 games over his first three seasons.

The Ravens have done extensive work improving their defensive line over the opening week of free agency, but the new starting trio of Campbell, Brockers, and nose tackle Brandon Williams as well as reserve Justin Ellis are all 29 or older. Baltimore also has fullback and defensive line hybrid Patrick Ricard and 2019 fifth-round pick Daylon Mack in the mix, but adding another defensive lineman or two for both depth and long-term development purposes figures to be an objective in next month’s draft.

Wormley wasted no time playfully showing his new allegiance after Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon responded to Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward’s Twitter welcome.

With Wormley’s departure, just three players remain from the Ravens’ 2017 draft class: Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey, reserve outside linebacker Tyus Bowser, and starting safety Chuck Clark.

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DeCosta, Ravens hedging bets by strengthening defensive line

Posted on 19 March 2020 by Luke Jones

The Ravens had a clear objective at the start of free agency, even if it wasn’t exactly what many expected.

Yes, work remains to replace eight-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, add an inside linebacker, strengthen the pass rush, and find a impact pass-catching option or two, but general manager Eric DeCosta recognized a problem that became painfully clear in the stunning 28-12 playoff loss to Tennessee. The Ravens surrendered the fourth-highest rushing total in team history on that disappointing January night, but warning signs were there long before Derrick Henry and the Titans piled up 217 rushing yards on 37 carries, a 5.9 yards per carry average.

The Week 4 debacle against Cleveland prompting the on-the-fly retooling of the defense was one thing, but the strong December rushing performances by San Francisco and Buffalo couldn’t be dismissed simply because of a strong effort the second time around against the Browns in Week 16. Something wasn’t quite right with an area often championed as the Ravens’ greatest strength over the last two decades.

We’ve long been programmed to look at volume, which painted a rosy picture for the run defense. The Ravens ranked fifth in the NFL at just 93.4 rushing yards allowed per game as opponents ran a league-low 340 times against them. But Baltimore ranked just 21st at 4.4 yards per carry allowed — easily the worst single-season mark in team history — and allowed 4.54 yards per attempt if you include the playoffs. Football Outsiders ranked the Ravens only 19th in its run defense efficiency metric known as DVOA, which compares success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.

Hopefully, we’ve learned by now that conventional teams run the ball more because they’re winning — not the other way around. That’s why opponents were rarely able to take advantage of Baltimore’s relative weakness.

The Ravens won a lot and by significant margins in 2019, registering the highest regular-season point differential (plus-249) the NFL had seen since the 2007 New England Patriots. Nine of their 14 victories were by 14 or more points as league MVP Lamar Jackson and a record-setting offense shredded teams on a near-weekly basis, often making opposing ground attacks irrelevant.

But after the acquisitions of defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers this week, DeCosta’s recent comments that seemingly prioritized a better pass rush prompted a different perspective.

“If our offense continues to play at the level they played at this past year, we will probably be ahead in some games and we’re going to want to have a strong pass rush,” DeCosta said at last month’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. “I think on defense, if you look at great defenses, historically three things: can rush the passer, can cover, and can stop the run. We really do believe all three of those things are really important. We’re trying to build a defense that can do all three of those things.”

What if the offense doesn’t play at quite that same level though?

That’s not to predict gloom and doom for Jackson and the Ravens by any means, but they’re more likely to experience at least a little regression toward the mean than to match or break the slew of league and franchise records set by last year’s group. What the Ravens offense did last year was extremely rare and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

In the 12 games (postseason included) in which the Ravens either trailed at some point or held only a single-possession lead for a portion of the second half, the defense surrendered just over 4.7 yards per carry. A few of those games still ended in comfortable victories, mind you, but it speaks to how well opponents were able to run when they didn’t have to abandon the ground game or weren’t simply playing out the string in an embarrassing defeat.

According to Pro-Football-Reference, the Ravens allowed a whopping 6.1 yards per carry on 53 attempts when trailing in games. That’s not a very big sample, of course, but it again illustrates the vulnerability when opponents were able to lean harder into the ground game.

In planning for 2020, DeCosta couldn’t assume his offense would hide the run defense quite as effectively, making it important to improve the defensive line. Enter Campbell and Brockers — regarded as two of the best run-stopping defensive linemen in the league — as upgrades to Chris Wormley and Michael Pierce, who didn’t have standout seasons in 2019. Like Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa 20 years ago, the presence of these newcomers along with Brandon Williams should make life easier for anyone playing inside linebacker in 2020.

A five-time Pro Bowl defensive end with 88 career sacks in 12 seasons, the 6-foot-8, 300-pound Campbell is the most versatile defensive lineman to play for the Ravens in years, providing a major boost to both their run defense and pass rush. Campbell may not be the conventional edge defender many coveted, but his ability to stop the run and pressure the pocket from multiple spots along the defensive line makes him a valuable chess piece for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who used extensive dime and nickel packages last season.

“Calais is a player we have long admired, even going back to the draft when he came out of college,” DeCosta said in a statement released Thursday. “He’s a natural fit for our defense and a versatile player who plays like a Raven.”

With much of the outside focus at other positions, DeCosta spending big on two defensive linemen reinforced that old Ravens staple of stopping the run, something with which the 2019 defense struggled despite the overwhelming team success. With more thump and resistance up front, DeCosta can now shift his attention toward augmenting the defense’s second level at both inside and outside linebacker.

That way, even if the offense isn’t quite on the historic level of last year, a more complete Ravens defense will be ready to shut down the run.

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Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (81) makes a touchdown catch against Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr (39) during the first half an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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Carr’s option declined by Ravens as new league year quietly begins

Posted on 18 March 2020 by Luke Jones

Starting every game over the last three seasons to continue his amazing streak since entering the NFL in 2008, defensive back Brandon Carr apparently won’t be back with the Ravens.

The organization declined its option that would have paid Carr $6 million for the 2020 season, making him a “non-compensable” unrestricted free agent. The Ravens will not be eligible to receive a compensatory pick for Carr, who will turn 34 in May and signed a four-year, $23.5 million contract in 2017 after previously playing for Kansas City and Dallas.

Despite playing 76 percent of Baltimore’s defensive snaps last season, Carr saw his role change, transitioning from outside cornerback to the nickel and eventually the dime safety spot down the stretch. The 6-foot, 210-pound defensive back finished with 49 tackles, two sacks, and six pass breakups last season and was graded 52nd among 113 qualified corners by Pro Football Focus.

Carr’s 192 consecutive starts is the longest active streak among NFL defensive players and second to only quarterback Philip Rivers (224). Highly respected in the locker room and very active in every community in which he’s spent time, Carr was the Ravens recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award this past year and was the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year in each of the last two seasons.

“You know how this business goes. Prepare for anything,” said Carr about his status after the playoff loss to Tennessee. “But most definitely, this has been one of the best rides I’ve been on. The organization is hands down the best that I’ve been a part of, both on and off the field. It’s been an amazing three years.

“We’ll see what happens after this, but I’ve been blessed to play this game for 12 [years], and it was just an incredible run this year.”

His departure wasn’t a major shock as he was projected to be no better than the Ravens’ No. 4 cornerback and third safety, but defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s affinity for using the dime package will leave general manager Eric DeCosta needing to add more depth and versatility in the secondary. Veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith remains an unrestricted free agent as the market has apparently been slow to develop, leaving open the possibility for his return to the Ravens.

DeCosta also declined tendering restricted free-agent guard Parker Ehinger and exclusive-rights free agents Randin Crecelius and Fish Smithson, moves that were anticipated.

The organization formally announced the Hayden Hurst trade two days after agreeing to send the 2018 first-round pick and a fourth-round selection to Atlanta for second-round and fifth-round choices in this year’s draft.

“Hayden is a talented, emerging player in this league and a high-character individual for whom we have a lot of respect,” DeCosta said in a statement. “We are grateful for the contributions he made to our team and for the role he played in our success the past two seasons. We feel this is a mutually-beneficial deal, and we wish Hayden the very best in Atlanta.”

Not counting the Sam Koch extension, the Hurst trade was the only reported move announced by the Ravens Wednesday afternoon as NFL teams remain in a holding pattern due to the coronavirus pandemic. Free agents aren’t permitted to visit a club facility or another location to meet with team personnel, and club personnel — including the team’s medical staff — may not travel to any location to meet with or conduct medical examinations for a free agent.

That means the acquisitions of Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell and run-stopping defensive tackle Michael Brockers and the re-signings of edge defender Jihad Ward and defensive tackle Justin Ellis are technically still pending. The NFL and NFL Players Association are currently working on protocols to address these unprecedented obstacles.

“We continue to make the well-being and safety of our organization and community top priorities during this critical public health situation,” DeCosta stated. “In compliance with a recent memo sent by the NFL Management Council, we will withhold official announcement of any personnel moves until prospective players have safely executed a physical examination and signed a contract.

“Despite these circumstances, we are excited about the steps we’ve taken — and will continue to take — to improve our team during this free agency period. We look forward to announcing our moves at the appropriate time.”

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Longtime Ravens punter Sam Koch signs two-year extension

Posted on 18 March 2020 by Luke Jones

A man who played with the likes of Jonathan Ogden, Adalius Thomas, and Edwin Mulitalo has committed to two additional seasons with the Ravens.

Baltimore announced longtime punter Sam Koch signed a two-year extension on Wednesday, keeping him under contract through the 2022 season. The 37-year-old was entering the final year of his deal and scheduled to have a $3.25 million salary and salary cap figure, numbers likely to be reduced to clear some additional space for general manager Eric DeCosta.

A 2015 Pro Bowl selection, Koch is currently the Ravens’ longest-tenured player and coming off another solid season despite recording a career-low 40 punts, 20 fewer than he’d had in any other campaign of his 14-year career. The 2006 sixth-round pick ranked eighth in the NFL with a 46.4 yards per punt average and finished with 21 punts inside the 20-yard line last season.

Koch often saw more work as the team’s holder last season as the Ravens led the league in scoring and became the first team in NFL history to average over 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards in a season. Immediately following the Week 8 bye, Koch punted a total of six times over a five-game period as the Ravens were in the midst of a franchise-record 12-game winning streak. He punted more than three times in a game only twice in 2019, quite a contrast from past seasons when he’d punt upwards of 80 times in a single year.

The Nebraska product has played in a franchise-record 224 consecutive games, never missing a contest in his career. Koch also ranks third for the most games played (224) in Ravens history, trailing only Terrell Suggs (229) and Ray Lewis (228).

In other roster news, veteran wide receiver Seth Roberts agreed to a deal with the Carolina Panthers, according to an NFL Network report. A capable blocker, the 29-year-old unrestricted free agent was targeted just 35 times in the regular season, but his crucial drop in the second quarter of the playoff loss to Tennessee will be his lasting image as a Raven.

Roberts was Baltimore’s first true unrestricted free agent to agree to terms with another team.

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Baltimore Ravens defensive end Jihad Ward (53) sacks New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) on a third down play in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Baltimore. The Ravens won 37-20. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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Ravens reportedly re-sign Ward, Ellis to continue building defensive front

Posted on 17 March 2020 by Luke Jones

The Ravens continued to reinforce their front seven by re-signing two depth pieces who brought relief  during the 2019 season.

According to NFL Network, defensive tackle Justin Ellis agreed to a one-year contract while The Athletic reported a deal with edge defender Jihad Ward on Tuesday. The Ravens had been working to retain both veterans in the weeks leading up to the official start of free agency.

Signed to a rotational role in early October, the 25-year-old Ward showed the ability to effectively set the edge against the run and the versatility to line up in different pass-rushing spots, helping fill the absence of the injured Pernell McPhee. The 2016 second-round pick of the Oakland Raiders collected seven tackles, one sack, a pass breakup, and two fumble recoveries in 372 snaps over 11 regular-season games. Despite those modest numbers, the 6-foot-5, 287-pound Ward drew praise from coaches and teammates for his contributions.

“This guy is a great fit in our defense. We liked him coming out of the draft,” head coach John Harbaugh said in January. “I remember our scouts liked him and our coaches liked him. I liked him. And then all of a sudden from a turn of events, he’s sitting there staring you in the face, and then you’re like, ‘Well, is he going to work for us?’ Man, he came up aces.”

Ellis, 29, was signed in mid-November as defensive tackle Michael Pierce was sidelined with an ankle injury. The 350-pound defensive lineman was a healthy scratch for three games in December, but he played well in limited snaps, making six tackles in four regular-season games and another in the divisional-round loss to Tennessee.

The deals hadn’t been officially announced as of Tuesday evening, but both players made references alluding to re-signing with the Ravens on their verified Instagram accounts.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts on first wave of free-agent activity

Posted on 17 March 2020 by Luke Jones

With Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta making a number of moves at the start of the new league year, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Spending $21 million guaranteed for Michael Brockers is steep — I wasn’t endorsing big money for Michael Pierce either — but another strong run-stopping lineman quells concerns against the run. He’s just not going to offer a ton as a rusher after posting the same PFF pass-rush grade as Brandon Williams last season.

2. Calais Campbell has played at least 70 percent of his team’s defensive snaps every season and at least 77 percent in each of the last five campaigns, per Pro-Football-Reference.com. Scaling back his workload a bit — he’ll be 34 in September — could make him even more disruptive for Baltimore.

3. The Ravens held joint practices with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 and Jacksonville last summer, giving them a closer look at their future acquisitions on the defensive line. Campbell and Brockers were far from unknowns, of course, but extra information in the evaluation process never hurts.

4. We’re still waiting on breakdowns of these deals, but the dollars committed to Campbell and Brockers as well as the franchise tag for Matthew Judon will leave DeCosta needing to create space on the salary cap beyond Brandon Carr’s option decision. Remember franchise-tag situations are fluid.

5. DeCosta received good value for Hayden Hurst, but I still view the trade as a “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” for now. Many have called Hurst a dispensable “third-string” tight end without acknowledging he played as many snaps as Mark Andrews last year. We’ll see.

6. Tyus Bowser, Kamalei Correa, Maxx Williams, Timmy Jernigan, and Arthur Brown were the Ravens’ last five second-round selections, reminding how frequently these picks sound better than they actually turn out. Of course, their last two were traded to move up for Lamar Jackson. Draft ammunition is certainly valuable.

7. You’d have to think Matt Skura was likely to receive the second-round restricted tender before his serious knee injury last November. With the logistical challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, however, teams probably won’t be as motivated to explore an offer sheet with a rehabbing restricted free agent.

8. Speaking of that uncertainty, the NFL confirmed the start of the offseason program would be delayed indefinitely, which will impact rookies and veteran newcomers alike. That reality makes the Ravens even more fortunate not to lose Greg Roman or Wink Martindale to a head gig elsewhere.

9. The release of James Hurst became a much stronger possibility when he was suspended for the first four games of 2020, but the Ravens could now use a young offensive tackle to back up Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown and develop. Competition for 33-year-old Andre Smith is in order.

10. A day later, I still can’t comprehend how anyone could look at Houston’s return for DeAndre Hopkins as anything but organizational malpractice. That’s a trade that would be mocked in fantasy football leagues. Poor Deshaun Watson.

11. The Ravens will play in Foxboro in 2020. It will definitely be weird without Tom Brady on the opposing side, but Johnny Unitas was traded to San Diego, Joe Montana went to Kansas City, and Peyton Manning ended up in Denver.

12. I’ve felt conflicted about the NFL conducting free-agent business despite the current state of the world, but it’s good having some distractions and reminders of the normalcy we want, like having football season this fall. Take care of yourself, your loved ones, and the many others around you.

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Ravens to add veteran Michael Brockers to revamped defensive line

Posted on 16 March 2020 by Luke Jones

After giving up the fourth-highest rushing total in franchise history in the 28-12 playoff loss to Derrick Henry and Tennessee, the Ravens knew they needed to revamp their defensive line.

That process continued Monday as Baltimore agreed to a three-year, $30 million contract with former Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers, according to NFL Network. The deal is reportedly worth $21 million guaranteed, representing the second major financial commitment made up front by general manager Eric DeCosta after the acquisition of five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell.

The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Brockers is entering his ninth season after spending his entire career with the Rams. The 2012 first-round pick from LSU is regarded as one of the better run-stopping linemen in the league, forming an impressive tandem with two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Brockers, 29, has collected 54 or more tackles in each of the last three seasons and collected 23 sacks for his career.

Though not regarded as much of a pass rusher, Brockers graded sixth among all interior defenders against the run by Pro Football Focus last season. That ability coupled with Campbell’s superb reputation will provide quite a transformation for a run defense that ranked an unimpressive 21st in yards per carry allowed (4.4) and 19th in Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric. Their massive size and ability to move around on will give defensive coordinator Wink Martindale plenty of options in his multi-look system.

The Ravens haven’t played much “base” 3-4 defense in recent years, but the trio of Brockers, Campbell, and Brandon Williams offers no shortage of strength and size, which should help a transitioning linebacker group in 2020. Of course, Baltimore hopes its record-setting offense continues to provide the other side of the ball with sizeable leads as it did throughout the 2019 season.

Brockers’ pending signing very likely means the end of defensive tackle Michael Pierce’s time in Baltimore as the Ravens are now projected to be very tight against the salary cap with several other positions still to address. Pierce is an unrestricted free agent coming off a turbulent 2019 that included weight problems in the spring and fairly underwhelming play compared to his previous seasons.

In 123 career games, Brockers has collected 344 tackles, nine pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. He piled up 63 tackles, three sacks, and one pass breakup last season, the sixth time in his eight years that he’s played all 16 games. Brockers has missed just five games in his career.

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Ravens release veteran lineman Hurst, give low tender to center Skura

Posted on 16 March 2020 by Luke Jones

The Ravens announced the release of veteran offensive lineman James Hurst on Monday, a move that saves $2.75 million on this year’s salary cap.

The 28-year-old was suspended for the first four games of the 2020 season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy last month, a development that had jeopardized his future in Baltimore. Hurst was entering the third season of a four-year, $17.5 million contract, but he played a career-low 195 offensive snaps and made only two starts last season, making his 2020 base salary of $4 million rather steep for a reserve.

Regarded by most as a below-average starting option, Hurst did bring game-day value as a versatile backup able to play multiple spots along the offensive line. The 2014 undrafted free agent from North Carolina made multiple starts at both tackle spots and at left guard over his six seasons with the Ravens.

The move comes less than a week after the retirement of eight-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda, making it even more obvious that general manager Eric DeCosta will need to strengthen his depth along the offensive line.

In other offensive line news, the Ravens placed the right-of-first-refusal tender on restricted free-agent center Matt Skura, who continues to work his way back from a major knee injury suffered in late November. The tender is worth a projected $2.1 million and gives Baltimore the right to match any offer sheet executed by another team.

Speaking to media after Yanda’s retirement press conference last week, Skura reiterated his hope that he’d be ready to return to action during training camp. However, his uncertain health as well as the solid play of undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari down the stretch last season likely prompted the Ravens to give Skura the low tender rather than the more expensive second-round amount.

Skura has started 39 games over the last three seasons and established himself as Baltimore’s starting center in 2018.

The Ravens also tendered exclusive-rights free-agent running back Gus Edwards, a move that was only a formality after the primary backup to Mark Ingram averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season.

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Ravens sending tight end Hurst to Atlanta for second-round pick

Posted on 16 March 2020 by Luke Jones

The Ravens weren’t done making trades prior to Wednesday’s start to the new league year as former first-round tight end Hayden Hurst will be sent to Atlanta for a second-round pick.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, general manager Eric DeCosta will trade Hurst and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Falcons in exchange for a second-round selection and a fifth-round choice in next month’s draft. The Ravens will reportedly receive the 55th overall pick, the second of Atlanta’s two picks in the second round.

The news of the pending deal comes months after the first rumors and speculation began about Hurst’s future as the 2018 first-round pick from South California was outplayed over the last two seasons by Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews, a third-round selection in that same draft. Hurst has hinted at wanting a bigger role in the Ravens offense after catching nearly 77 percent of his targets — tops among Baltimore’s non-running backs — and finishing third on the team with 349 receiving yards. Atlanta will now be hoping for big-time production from Hurst while two-time Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper was nearing a lucrative free-agent deal with Cleveland on Monday.

In a vacuum, the Ravens are receiving perfectly fine value for a tight end halfway through his rookie contract and entering his age-27 season, but Hurst arguably provided more value than his numbers indicated after playing just over 500 snaps last season and serving as an insurance policy for Andrews. With Hurst graded as the NFL’s 14th-best tight end by Pro Football Focus last season, the Ravens will now need to add another option behind Andrews and top blocker Nick Boyle in an offense anchored by its tight ends. After catching just 13 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown while dealing with a foot injury as a rookie, Hurst snagged 30 passes and two touchdowns while playing in every game last season.

It’s also worth noting the Ravens haven’t had much success with second-round picks in recent years, but DeCosta could use the choice as ammunition for other moves. It’s easy to get caught up thinking about the best outcome with an unknown draft pick, of course, but the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Hurst still served an important role, even if not living up to his draft billing. The 25th overall pick in 2018, Hurst now becomes one of the rare first-round picks in team history not to finish his rookie deal in Baltimore.

Following the pending acquisition of Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell and the Hurst trade, the Ravens are now slotted to have nine picks in next month’s draft: a first, two second-rounders, two third-round selections, two fourths, a fifth, and a seventh-round choice.

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Ravens to acquire Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell from Jacksonville

Posted on 15 March 2020 by Luke Jones

Days before the scheduled start of the new league year, the Ravens have quite possibly made their biggest move of the offseason to boost their pass rush and front seven for the 2020 season.

General manager Eric DeCosta is set to acquire five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round pick, according to multiple outlets. The deal will not be made official until the start of the new league year, which is currently scheduled for Wednesday at 4 p.m. Campbell, 33, is scheduled to make $15 million base salary in the final season of a four-year deal, but the sides are nearing an extension to keep him under contract through 2021, according to NFL Network.

Coming off his third straight Pro Bowl campaign with the Jaguars, the 6-foot-8, 300-pound Campbell immediately becomes Baltimore’s top pass rusher and has registered 6 1/2 or more sacks in four straight seasons and at least five quarterback takedowns in each of the last 11 years. Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-best edge defender in the NFL and its best run defender of 2019, speaking to his all-around skill in the trenches. In 16 starts last season, Campbell collected 6 1/2 sacks, 56 tackles, and one pass breakup while registering 71 total pressures by PFF’s count.

Campbell has recorded 88 sacks, 696 tackles, 14 forced fumbles, and 48 pass breakups over a 12-year career in which he’s missed only six total games.

Playing extensively as both an interior lineman and edge defender over the years, Campbell will give defensive coordinator Wink Martindale plenty of flexibility to use different looks along the defensive line. Campbell will likely line up as a 5-technique defensive end in the Ravens’ 3-4 “base” defense, but he’ll move all over the place in other packages, which could give nightmares to opposing offensive lines trying to minimize his impact. His presence could also allow the Baltimore pass rush to rely less on numbers than it did in 2019 when the defense blitzed a league-high 54.9 percent of the time, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.

Relying heavily on that blitzing as well as a top-notch secondary to finish fourth in Football Outsiders’ defensive efficiency last season, the Ravens ranked 21st in the NFL with 37 sacks last season.

It’s been a long time since the Ravens have had a talent of Campbell’s size and skill set with the best comparison perhaps being former defensive end Trevor Pryce, who piled up 13 sacks in his first year with Baltimore in 2006 and amassed 26 in parts of five seasons. Pryce was three years younger when he signed with the Ravens, but Campbell is playing at a higher level, arguably even better in his 30s than he was over his first nine seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. The 2008 second-round pick from Miami will turn 34 on Sept. 1.

Campbell’s value goes beyond what he brings to the field as he received the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his community work and is one of the most respected players around the league. His leadership qualities will be welcomed by a young team that lost eight-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda to retirement last week.

Now on the hook for a significant financial obligation to Campbell after committing just under $16 million with the franchise tag for Pro Bowl outside linebacker Matthew Judon, the Ravens could face some tough choices related to a suddenly tight salary cap. They still must decide on their $6 million 2020 option for veteran defensive back Brandon Carr in the coming days and could now feel more urgency to either work out a long-term contract with Judon or trade him rather than allowing the 27-year-old to play for the tag amount for 2020.

The deal will be viewed as another massive win for DeCosta as he will trade the 2020 fifth-round pick acquired from Minnesota last summer for kicker Kaare Vedvik, who faltered with the Vikings and was waived weeks later. This trade coupled with the deal for Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters last October means DeCosta essentially swapped Vedvik, inside linebacker Kenny Young, and his original 2020 fifth-round pick for two established Pro Bowl defensive talents.

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