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.