Cleat Geeks

On The Clock: Baltimore Ravens 2016 Offseason Preview

In his “On the Clock” series, NFL analyst Brett Casella (@NFL_iQ on Twitter) will take an in-depth look at all 20 teams that failed to make the playoffs as they head into the 2016 offseason. He will conduct a thorough examination of each roster and make recommendations on whom to cut and re-sign, as well as which players to target through free agency and the draft.

This article will focus on the Baltimore Ravens.

2015 Record: 5-11
Draft Pick: #6

 

Season Summary

Baltimore_Ravens_logo.svgMany experts picked the Baltimore Ravens as their favorites to win Super Bowl 50. How quickly things changed. Baltimore’s leading passer, rusher, and top two receivers on the depth chart, and best defensive player all fell victim to season-ending injuries, crippling any chances that the Ravens had of making the playoffs.

Baltimore should consider themselves lucky to win five games after playing most of the season with their second-string team. With all of their key players coming back healthy next year, the Ravens could put together a run by making the right moves this offseason.

Re-Signings & Cuts

JustinTuckerIt’s not very often you see re-signing a kicker as the top priority for a team, but that may be the case this year for the Ravens. Justin Tucker is one of the best at his position, and he should be hit with the franchise tag if the two sides cannot reach a long-term deal.

Offensive lineman Kelechi Osmele is another priority. Reports have recently surfaced that Baltimore wants to make the versatile offensive lineman their starting left tackle, and have offered him a generous contract to reflect that. If this happens, expect current LT Eugene Monroe to be cut, creating $6.5 million in cap savings.

The Ravens should try to re-sign WR Kamar Aiken for cheap; he played decent as the fill-in number one receiver after Steve Smith sustained an Achilles injury. There is a strong chance that Baltimore lets the rest of their notable free agents walk, including Courtney Upshaw.

Marshal Yanda may be asked to restructure his contract in order to open up more cap space this year.

Free Agency Needs

Out of the 32 teams in the league, the Ravens are ranked 30th in terms of cap space. This really limits what they will be able to do in terms of free agency. If they do participate, expect them to pursue low-end wide receivers and defensive backs. Possible targets include Rishard Matthews, Rueben Randle, and Jermaine Kearse at wide receiver, and Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore, William Gay, and Terrance Newman at cornerback.

Potential Draft Picks

Oregon DE DeForest Buckner would provide an immediate boost to the Ravens defensive line, as would Joey Bosa if he were to drop to the sixth pick. I would expect Baltimore to select one of these two players, but you can’t count out Jalen Ramsey or Vernon Hargreaves in the secondary.joey_bosa

If the Ravens do in fact sign Osmele as their left tackle, they could draft Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley and develop him into their starting right tackle, bookending an already good offensive line with two potentially very good players.

Don’t expect it, but Ezekiel Elliott would be a great addition to the team. He is one of the best runningback prospects to come out of the draft in years, and the Ravens could use a dynamic presence in their backfield. Justin Forsett will turn 31 next year, and Buck Allen is not the long-term solution.

Baltimore has a lot of flexibility in the second round. Offensive linemen Cody Whitehair, Jason Spriggs, and Jack Conklin are players to keep an eye on, as are defensive backs Kendall Fuller and Vonn Bell. They could also look to get their future number one wide receiver in Michael Thomas or Tyler Boyd.

RB Derrick Henry and WR Rashard Higgins are players to keep an eye on as the draft progresses to the mid rounds.

Have any questions, comments, or just want to talk about the article? Leave your opinion in the comments below.

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