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Ravens exercise fifth-year option on outside linebacker Odafe Oweh

After extending the contract of wide receiver Rashod Bateman, the Ravens will be retaining the services of their other 2021 first-round pick through at least 2025.

On Tuesday, Baltimore announced it will exercise the fifth-year option for Odafe Oweh, which will now guarantee the outside linebacker $13.251 million next season. Oweh, 25, has had an up-and-down start to his NFL career after being selected 31st overall out of Penn State three years ago, but he’s coming off a solid five-sack campaign and registered a career-high 54 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. Despite missing four games and large parts of two others, Oweh still finished third on the team in quarterback hits (12) while finishing fourth in sacks for a defense that led the league in points allowed, sacks, and takeaways.

Per PFF, Oweh finished 14th among NFL edge rushers in pass-rush win rate last season, something the Ravens value even if they hope to see more of those pressures turn into sacks. Exercising the fifth-year option is a bet on the 6-foot-5, 257-pound Oweh taking the next step as he works with respected outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith for a second straight spring and summer.

“We were really happy with his game [last] year,” said general manager Eric DeCosta about Oweh earlier this offseason. “I think sometimes people get really caught up in the number of sacks that people get. We prefer to look at pressures and disruptions and their ability to affect the game. Odafe’s probably one of the hardest-working players we have on our defense. He has a great motor, plays with a passion. He’s an exciting young prospect. He has battled back from some injuries, and we think that this is going to be a great season for him.”  

The explosion of the edge rusher market in recent years is likely another reason why the Ravens are taking a calculated risk on Oweh’s pressure rate, which can be predictive of a breakout in the sacks department. His 2025 salary would currently rank 22nd among edge rushers in average annual value.

Oweh burst on the scene as a rookie by registering three sacks and two forced fumbles over his first five NFL games. However, his momentum slowed down the stretch of that 2021 season, and Oweh never really found his footing in 2022 as his playing time declined over the second half of the campaign and he finished with only three sacks.

The 2023 season also got off to a choppy start as Oweh suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 and missed the next four games. However, with veterans Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy leading the way in the outside linebacker rotation, there was less of a spotlight on Oweh as he collected a sack in four of his first five games upon returning from injury. With Clowney now in Carolina and Van Noy entering his age-33 season, the Ravens are counting on Oweh to emerge as a high-impact starter in 2024.

In 45 career games, Oweh has collected 13 sacks, 99 tackles, and six forced fumbles.

With Oweh now on the books for next season, the 2025 Ravens are scheduled to have eight players with a salary cap number of at least $10 million, according to OverTheCap.com. That list includes Lamar Jackson ($43.7 million), Marlon Humphrey ($25.1 million), Roquan Smith ($22.5 million), Marcus Williams ($18.7 million), Mark Andrews ($16.9 million), Justin Madubuike ($15.5 million), and Derrick Henry ($10.9 million).

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