OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens enter 2021 NFL free agency coming off an 11-5 season in 2020 and have 18 free agents, including 15 who are unrestricted.
After overhauling the defensive front seven a year ago, the Ravens’ focus this offseason is improving Lamar Jackson’s supporting cast. Baltimore should have the interior offensive line, wide receiver and tight end all in its sights during free agency. The only glaring need on defense is at outside linebacker.
Here’s what to expect from the Ravens when the NFL offseason hits high gear with the start of free agency on March 17:
UFA: Robert Griffin III (cut)
Game plan: The Ravens don’t necessarily feel they need to sign a more experienced backup in free agency. General manager Eric DeCosta said after the season he can see either McSorley or Huntley serving as the No. 2 quarterback behind Jackson. “It doesn’t mean that we won’t go after a veteran quarterback,” DeCosta said, “But we think both those guys have pretty bright futures, and we see a good competition this year.” This is a risk considering McSorley and Huntley have played a combined 49 snaps in the regular season.
UFA: Mark Ingram (cut)
Game plan: The biggest move at running back is securing Edwards, a restricted free agent who is one of two running backs to gain more than 700 yards rushing and average over five yards per carry in each of the past three seasons (Nick Chubb is the other). Baltimore will either put a second-round tender on Edwards or sign him to a long-term deal. The Ravens have a tremendous one-two punch with Dobbins and Edwards.
Game plan: One of the Ravens’ biggest needs is adding to a wide receiver group that ranked last in the NFL in catches (137) and receiving yards (1,729). The expectation is Baltimore won’t pursue a No. 1 wide receiver like Allen Robinson or Kenny Golladay. Signing one or two wide receivers from the second tier (perhaps Corey Davis, Sammy Watkins or A.J. Green) would boost the Ravens’ passing game at a lesser cost. Bryant said he won’t be returning, and Snead isn’t likely to get re-signed.
Game plan: This is a need that hasn’t gotten as much attention as wide receiver and offensive line. The Ravens will look to bring in a pass-catching tight end in either free agency or the draft. Baltimore never really replaced Hayden Hurst after he was traded to the Falcons last year, and Andrews is in the final year of his rookie contract.
Game plan: Upgrading the offensive line is considered the offseason priority. Free-agent interior linemen such as guard Joe Thuney or center Corey Linsley make sense as well as a potential cap cut like guard Kevin Zeitler. Brown could get traded but it’s far from a given because the Ravens likely won’t deal him for anything less than a first-round pick.
Game plan: Wolfe is the only starter on the defensive line who is a free agent, but he and the Ravens would like him to return after a solid first season in Baltimore. If that occurs, the only other additions on the defensive line would come in the draft. It’s time to look to the future with Campbell and Williams in their final seasons.
Game plan: The biggest void on the team is at outside linebacker, where the top four on last year’s team are free agents. Judon isn’t getting re-signed, and Ngakoue is not expected to return after a limited role in the playoffs. The more likely scenario is re-signing Bowser and McPhee and drafting a pass-rusher either in the first or second round. Baltimore can also add a moderately priced veteran like Jadeveon Clowney, Justin Houston, Ryan Kerrigan or Melvin Ingram.
UFA: Anthony Levine
Game plan: The Ravens’ work during the season -- signing Humphrey and Smith to extensions -- means they’re essentially set in the secondary before free agency begins. Baltimore will bring back Levine, a core special teams player, at the right price. With Elliott entering his contract year, the Ravens also could draft a safety.
UFA: Morgan Cox
Game plan: The self-described “Wolfpack” is breaking up after eight seasons together. Cox has been told that the Ravens aren’t re-signing him. Moore, who spent all of last season on the practice squad after being in the XFL, is Baltimore’s new long-snapper.