Twelve Ravens Thoughts in midst of offseason planning

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With the Ravens continuing their 2024 offseason planning and still finalizing a revamped coaching staff, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The franchise tag window opened Tuesday with many expecting Baltimore to tag Justin Madubuike after his 13-sack Pro Bowl campaign. I understand reservations about giving him a potential nine-figure contract after a breakout contract year, but a near-$21 million tag won’t do the salary cap picture any favors either. 

2. How much of that angst stems from Broderick Washington’s disappointing season on the heels of Eric DeCosta awarding him a three-year, $15.75 million extension last August? Madubuike is a much better player, of course, but every major investment requires more scrutiny with Lamar Jackson’s $260 million contract on the books. 

3. Kevin Zeitler filled a significant hole at right guard after the Ravens struggled there in 2020 enduring Marshal Yanda’s retirement, but their lack of urgency to extend the almost-34-year-old dates back to last offseason. Though something still coming together isn’t impossible, Baltimore going in a different direction seems likely now.  

4. Ben Cleveland has played fewer snaps over the last two seasons combined than he did as a rookie, but PFF graded him favorably filling in for Zeitler the last two years. This is a contract season for Cleveland, and Baltimore would gladly take a Ben Powers-like performance out of him.

5. Given the offseason attrition and limited cap resources, DeCosta will need to take some roster-building gambles. Barring a market that’s much softer than expected for Derrick Henry, betting real money on a 30-year-old with such mileage continuing to defy logic isn’t particularly high on my wish list. Draft a back.  

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6. With Zeitler unlikely to return, Morgan Moses entering a contract year, and Ronnie Stanley not playing up to his compensation, the offensive line is nearing a substantial facelift. However, finding an immediate replacement for Stanley is a tall order picking 30th. Drafting someone with 2025 starter upside is more realistic. 

7. A post-June 1 release for Stanley decreases dead money from nearly $18 million to roughly $11 million, but those savings aren’t realized until after most roster-building work is complete. The optimal approach would be keeping Stanley at a reduced salary while drafting his long-term successor to play guard in 2024. 

8. Speaking of post-June 1 chatter, some speculation about Marlon Humphrey’s future has been over the top. While he definitely needs to bounce back for his age-28 season, Humphrey is a year removed from a Pro Bowl campaign. Cap space or not, players with such ability and upside aren’t easily replaced.

9. Releasing Tyus Bowser would create $5.5 million in cap savings for 2024, making that one of the easiest decisions of the offseason. Considering the question marks and lack of depth at outside linebacker, that’s saying something, but Bowser has missed 27 games over the last two seasons. Availability is paramount. 

10. Re-signing Nelson Agholor doesn’t warrant cartwheels, but he raises the floor of a wide receiver group that’ll be interesting to monitor this spring. Does DeCosta take another swing in the draft or look to sign a veteran if Odell Beckham Jr. indeed exits? How Baltimore views Rashod Bateman feels pivotal. 

11. That room will no longer include assistant wide receivers coach Keith Williams, who is set to become the new wide receivers coach in New Orleans. Williams was popular and very hands on coaching that group, but Greg Lewis remains in charge of the wide receivers. 

12. The Ravens have yet to make any announcements regarding a coaching staff that’s undergone quite a few changes, but it’s interesting to note the retired Josh Bynes is reportedly joining Mike Macdonald’s Seattle staff after also interviewing with Baltimore. Bynes should become a good coach. 

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