Twelve Ravens Thoughts entering second week of free agency

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With the Ravens embarking on the second week of the new league year after a quiet open to free agency, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Baltimore entered Monday as one of two teams yet to sign an outside free agent. The Ravens are no stranger to slow starts in free agency, but it’s tough to recall a time when an outside addition — via signing or trade — wasn’t made over the new league year’s first week. 

2. You don’t have to be a front office executive to see the holding pattern with Lamar Jackson’s status as Eric DeCosta wants to maintain as much salary cap flexibility as possible in the event of Jackson signing an offer sheet. But it’s sure zapped the enthusiasm out of Baltimore’s offseason. 

3. Some continue trying to convince themselves how the Jackson saga will end, especially in the wake of no one promptly signing him to an offer sheet. But I also remember a contract extension once being a foregone conclusion. This ride is more exhausting than fascinating at this point. 

“Well, it’s Groundhog Day. Again.”

4. With the opportunity to still double his career earnings on the $32.4 million non-exclusive tag, Jackson has motivation to play and play at a high level if he’s hellbent on a full guarantee in the future. It’s tough to bet on yourself in 2023 if you stay away too long. 

5. I have no idea what to expect from Jackson’s upcoming “exclusive interview” on his YouTube channel, but that teaser coming a couple days after NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith’s missive on guaranteed contracts was interesting timing at least. How far is Jackson willing to go in this fight?  

6. Fundamentally, I support the push for fully guaranteed contracts in a brutally physical sport, but a Cleveland Browns signing being used as precedent and Jackson — with his playing style, recent injury history, and accompanying draft compensation — being the test subject will remain a difficult sell without other quarterbacks pushing hard. 

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7. With Marcus Peters still available, the Ravens visiting with free agent Rock Ya-Sin, 26, was an interesting development. Pro Football Focus graded him 50th among qualified cornerbacks with Las Vegas last season and 29th with Indianapolis in 2021. He was traded for former Raven and Terp Yannick Ngakoue last spring. 

8. Justice Hill had a rock-solid 2022, but his re-signing was a little surprising considering Baltimore’s limited cap resources. Perhaps Todd Monken envisions a larger offensive role for Hill, but the Ravens do love their standout special-teams players. Running back still remains a Day 3 target for next month’s draft. 

9. Bringing back Geno Stone was a good move after the Chuck Clark trade. That DeCosta used void years to make his one-year deal work spoke to the need for quality depth behind Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton. Stone played over 300 snaps on special teams too. 

10. A restricted tender was too steep for Trystan Colon, but the interior line depth he provided will be missed as Baltimore tries to figure out left guard in the wake of Ben Powers’ departure. Colon has developed into a player who should be in the starting mix with the Jets. 

11. Retired special-teams captain and defensive back Anthony Levine will be joining the Tennessee Titans as an assistant special teams coach, according to The Athletic. Best wishes to Levine, who’s on the short list of individuals to have played 10 seasons as a Raven. 

12. The free-agent options are dwindling (and weren’t great to begin with), the cap dollars and draft picks are limited, and the quarterback picture remains unsettled. Yes, Week 1 is more than five months away, but confidence is already dwindling in the organization’s ability to rebuild its wide receiver room

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