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Pushing All-In: Another WR is the Ravens missing ingredientby Vasilis Lericos on July 8, 2020 at 3:00 pm
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Lamar Jackson burst on the scene in 2018 as a rookie, elevating a 4-5 squad to a 10-6 AFC North champion. Then in 2019, despite significant offseason departures, a record setting offense coupled with a defense built to protect leads propelled the Ravens to one of the best regular seasons in the history of the league. Yet in each of the last two postseasons, Baltimore was unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs without a winning a single game because they were unable to overcome early deficits. Entering the 2020 season, the Ravens, along with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs are considered the favorites to win the Super Bowl. General manager Eric DeCosta added more to the roster than he lost, particularly remaking the defensive line with former All-Pro Calais Campbell to fortify a vulnerable run defense. John Harbaugh also managed to retain his entire innovative coaching staff. Baltimore’s elite secondary possesses the depth to ensure that the pass defense remains among the league’s best. The rushing offense might take a step back following Marshal Yanda’s retirement, but the combination of Lamar and Greg Roman’s scheme should still produce gaudy totals on the ground. Nonetheless, the Ravens formerly 27th ranked passing offense is the phase that may not be equipped to step up if called upon. Jackson’s 113.3 quarterback rating during his MVP season was extremely efficient. Still, he has engineered just one 4th quarter comeback in five tries over his young career. And the front office did not do much to improve his receiving weapons. In fact, the losses of Hayden Hurst and Seth Roberts may prove more impactful than the additions of rookies Devin Duvernay and James Proche. Baltimore’s pass catchers are generally viewed as a bottom-third group across the league. Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews have both emerged as bonafide playmakers. But each carry injury concerns. Brown has a slight frame by NFL standards and dealt with foot injuries last season. Andrews suffers from the dings and nicks that affect most tight ends, and could be limited during the pandemic because of his diabetes medical condition. If one or especially both main pass catchers were to miss time, 2020 could certainly become another missed opportunity for the Ravens. Miles Boykin has the raw tools to develop into a top-tier second wideout. Willie Snead is a capable role player and Duvernay has promise. None have shown an ability to serve as a number one or number two receiving option for a contender. Lamar has proven he can carry the offense, but it would be a challenge even for him to defeat top competition without multiple viable receivers. Baltimore will obviously remain a run-first offense. Odds are, however, a random series of events will force them into a pass-heavy game script at least a couple times next season. Perhaps in the postseason when the stakes are the highest. And as strong as the Ravens defense is expected to be, great offense holds the edge over great defense in the modern NFL. The best teams are prepared for all circumstances and can earn victories in a variety of ways. The Ravens roster is strong were it matters most. An MVP quarterback, Pro Bowl bookend offensive tackles, a Pro Bowl edge rusher and a pair of All-Pro corners. DeCosta has also assembled a quartet of effective running backs, enough bodies to field a solid interior blocking trio, an outstanding blocking tight end and fullback, exciting rookie inside ‘backers, a deep cast of disruptive defensive lineman and situational edge defenders, and one of the better safety pairings around. Better still, many of the Ravens best players are still playing under cost controlled rookie contracts. Fresh off their best regular season in franchise history, the time to chase the Lombardi trophy is now. By 2021, the veterans will be another year past their primes, some may be released for salary cap savings next offseason. Relatively cheap All-Pros Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey will become much more costly. Matthew Judon could depart after playing out the franchise tag. Squeezing in veteran signings such as Jimmy Smith and Derek Wolfe will be difficult next year. Lamar will have another year of wear-and-tear on his body. Overall, the roster overall will not be as loaded in 2021. Could the front office extend the window for championship contention by remaining conservative? Possibly. But the NFL is designed for parity, with a hard salary cap, reverse order draft slotting and competitive scheduling. Since the Ravens were founded in 1996, only the New England Patriots have established a dynasty. With the best coach in the history of the sport, one of the best quarterbacks playing at a below market rate and a historically weak division, those Patriots should be considered an anomaly. Moreover, being aggressive to pursue Super Bowl glory should not prevent the Ravens from being long term contenders. They have finally overcome the cycle of overpaying declining veterans, backloading deals and restructuring contracts. Baltimore is projected to have the eighth most salary cap space next offseason. Even if the decision makers make the bold decision to pay all of their young, premium position talent top dollar, utilizing some creative but worthwhile contract structures, at the expense of mid-level veteran depth, their proven ability to find valuable undrafted free agents and accumulate late round contributors should keep the bottom half of the roster robust. DeCosta should explore every avenue to fill the single remaining roster weakness at boundary wideout. Perhaps the team can take advantage of their strong locker room culture and ink one of the controversial veteran free agents to a team friendly deal. A trade might be a better option, the tremendous volume of receivers drafted over the past few cycles should make some appealing options available in exchange for mid-round picks. Maximizing future salary cap flexibility and prioritizing draft capital should not be the main objective when the team is on the verge of an elusive championship. Super Bowl windows close quick in the NFL. Roster attrition, injury or coaching changes could conceivably shut the door on a future run during Lamar’s prime seasons. It would be a sincere shame if the Ravens missed this golden opportunity to win their third trophy because they lacked the weaponry to win a postseason shootout. Maybe the Ravens can impose their will and dictate game flow throughout the 2020 regular season and playoffs, as they did during their 12-game winning streak. Regardless, the front office should eliminate as many vulnerabilities as possible. DeCosta has spent the offseason acquiring impressive depth at essentially every position group except the one potentially mortal weakness - wide receiver. If any team is structured to push all-in for a ring, the 2020 Baltimore Ravens are the paragon.
Ranking the Ravens strongest position groupsby Frank J. Platko on July 8, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports The Ravens had an active offseason, adding new faces in the draft and free agency while simultaneously seeing other ones depart for new teams. As a result, many of the position groups up and down the roster look a bit different than they did in 2019. How does each position stack up in terms of talent? Let’s take a look and break it down. 1) Quarterback The only appropriate place to begin this conversation is at the quarterback position. It’s a good thing for the signal-caller spot to be one of the strongest on your roster, and the Ravens have this luxury afforded to them. Lamar Jackson established himself as one of the league’s top quarterbacks last season but the team’s depth behind him further solidifies the strength of the position. Robert Griffin III is the perfect scheme fit behind Jackson and Trace McSorley showed promise as a potential future backup down the line. UDFA Tyler Huntley also fits the mobile quarterback mold and could potentially push McSorley for a roster spot. 2) Cornerback You could make the argument for running back to be listed here at No. 2, but it’s hard to snub cornerback from the second spot. The Ravens are talented and deep at the cornerback position, even after losing Brandon Carr in free agency. Re-signing veteran Jimmy Smith gives the Ravens a fourth corner that is starter-caliber, a list that includes Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Tavon Young. Humphrey and Peters are coming off All-Pro seasons while Young, health-permitting, has a chance to re-emerge as one of the league’s top nickel cornerbacks in 2020. Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall are primarily special teams contributors but possess the upside to develop into impact players on defense. Averett played extended snaps early in 2019 and struggled a bit while Marshall spent the first half of the season on injured reserve. 3) Running Back After drafting Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins in the second round, the Ravens already-strong running back core is now even more formidable. Baltimore is four-deep at the position now between Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and the aforementioned Dobbins. Ingram made the Pro Bowl last season after scoring 15 touchdowns and rushing for over 1,000 yards, while Edwards was one of the most productive and efficient backups in the league. Hill showed promise towards the end of his rookie campaign, too. Any one of Ingram, Edwards or Dobbins could start on a bevy of rosters around the NFL, while Hill would be higher than fourth on most team’s depth charts. This group is even stronger when factoring in the presence of Pat Ricard, who established himself as one of the NFL’s top fullbacks in 2019 and made his first Pro Bowl appearance. 4) Safety Tony Jefferson is no longer in the picture at the safety position for the Ravens, but it remains a strong group nevertheless. Earl Thomas III made a strong impact in his first season with Baltimore. Thomas patrolled the backend of the defense and allowed only 87 receiving yards in primary coverage on the year. He also played a career-high 264 snaps in the box and recorded career-best numbers in sacks (two) and QB hits (six). Chuck Clark earned himself a three-year contract extension after stepping into a starting role when Jefferson suffered season-ending ACL surgery. Clark assumed play-calling duties on defense and played consistent, disciplined football. Clark’s PFF coverage grade of 81.9 placed him just one spot behind Thomas among all qualified safeties, and both players finished in the Top-10. Behind Clark and Thomas, the Ravens have a strong trio of depth in veteran Anthony Levine Sr., who was re-signed to a one-year deal, DeShon Elliott and rookie Geno Stone. 5) Tight End Based on top-end talent alone, tight end should probably be higher on this list. Mark Andrews is arguably a top-five player at the position, at least in terms of pass-catchers, while Nick Boyle is widely considered the league’s best blocking tight end. This duo is among the best the NFL has to offer. Most teams don’t have great depth at tight end anyways, but swapping out Hayden Hurst in favor of someone like Charles Scarff or Jacob Breeland is a noticeable downgrade. Hurst was an important cog in the Ravens offense as both as an in-line blocker and complimentary receiving threat. Having Andrews and Boyle is a great luxury and as long as those two can stay healthy, the Ravens will be fine. However, losing Hurst is still a blow to the tight end depth. 6) Offensive Line Baltimore’s offensive line was one of the best units in the NFL last season, but the group will look a bit different in 2020. The biggest blow dealt to the Ravens this offseason was losing Marshal Yanda. In the wake of his retirement, the Ravens added a number of potential replacements at the interior offensive line spots in the draft and free agency. Who will start at center and right guard is up in the air heading into training camp. Any combination could emerge from a crowded group of Matt Skura, Patrick Mekari, D.J. Fluker, Ben Powers, Ben Bredeson and Tyre Phillips. Luckily, the Ravens are set at both tackles position with Pro Bowl talent. Ronnie Stanley was the league’s best pass-protector last season and Orlando Brown Jr. emerged as a high-end starter at right tackle. Bradley Bozeman should remain the team’s starting left guard, but it’s possible that the coaching staff could explore moving him over to center, too. 7) Defensive Line Eric DeCosta made concentrated upgrades to the Ravens’ defensive line this offseason. The Ravens traded for Calais Campbell, signed FA Derek Wolfe and drafted a pair of defensive tackles - Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington Jr. DeCosta also re-signed incumbent free agents Jihad Ward and Justin Ellis, further adding to a now extremely crowded group on the front-seven. Campbell is an established All-Pro talent who, even approaching age 35, is one of the league’s premier run defenders and interior pass-rushers. Wolfe posted a career-high seven sacks in 2019 despite playing in only 12 games. The duo will step in as starters alongside Brandon Williams, who’s set to slide over to his more natural position of nose tackle. Ward, Madubuike, Washington, Ellis and rising sophomore Daylon Mack make up the rest of the depth chart. It’s unclear how many defensive lineman the Ravens will seek to keep but Ward and Maduibuke are likely the only “safe” bets of the group. 8) Edge Rusher Maybe the only position with no overturn between 2019 and 2020 is edge rusher, where the Ravens’ four contributors from last season are returning. Matthew Judon was retained in free agency via the franchise tag and will look to build upon a career-best campaign last season. Judon will be flanked by either Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser or Pernell McPhee. McPhee started the beginning portion of the 2019 season before suffering season-ending surgery, but not before racking up three sacks and six QB hits. The Ravens re-signed McPhee to a one-year deal, which solidified their depth at the position. In his absence, youngsters Ferguson and Bowser stepped into larger roles. If either one of them, or both, can take a significant step forward this season, it will add another dimension to the Ravens defense. 9) Linebacker The Ravens overhauled their linebacker core this offseason in a big way. The only returning contributor from 2019 is L.J. Fort, who may be tasked with a larger role next season given he’s now the lone veteran on the depth chart. Out of the picture are last year’s starters, Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes, who were replaced in the draft with a pair of rookies - Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. Queen, the team’s first-round pick, figures to step into an every-down role given his combination of athletic ability, intangibles and versatility. Harrison is more of a natural run-stopper but his limitations in coverage suggest he’ll be splitting time with Fort as the “MIKE” linebacker on the field. Behind this trio is Chris Board and Otara Alaka, who will be battling to retain their roster spot. Board is an established special teams ace while Alaka missed the entirety of his rookie campaign last year with an injury. 10) Wide Receiver Objectively, it’s hard to argue that wide receiver should be higher on this list. Last season, the Ravens receiving core ranked near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories. Given the usage of running backs and tight ends in the offense, though, it’s not too surprising. The biggest X-factor with this position group is Marquise Brown, who appears primed for a breakout sophomore season. Brown was the team’s most productive wideout last year and had a few big performances, but was limited due to having surgically-placed screws in his foot. Brown shouldn’t have any limitations in 2020 and has all the tools to establish himself as a legitimate No. 1 receiver. If fellow rising sophomore Miles Boykin can also take a step forward, the two could form a formidable duo. The Ravens re-signed Willie Snead IV, who will retain his role as the team’s starting slot receiver. He could potentially be pushed for snaps, though, by either of the rookie receivers drafted in the middle rounds - Devin Duvernay and James Proche.
Prescott and Watson contracts will be crucial to the conversation surrounding Lamar Jackson’sby Jake Louque on July 8, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports The Kansas City Chiefs made watershed sports history on Monday, when they officially announced the much anticipated contract extension for their young star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. While the gaudy numbers of $503 million over 12 years surely turned plenty of heads, the true nitty gritty of the deal indicates it’s actually more of a 5-year extension with the guaranteed language in it suggesting an amount of around $141 million due in guarantees over that time period, avergaing out at about $28.3 million per year. While it’s certainly possible that Mahomes plays out the duration of the deal, it’s much more likely that he’ll seek some sort of restructure around 2025 when his guarantees begin to run out, and when other quarterbacks in his age group begin to negotiate their third deal. Speaking of quarterbacks in his age group, there are a few other young guns around the league that have been or will very soon be looking to wet their beaks in this manner. While there are several names to look at, the general consensus is that Dak Prescott (a 2016 fourth round pick), and Deshaun Watson (a 2017 first rounder) will be next. Germane to the interests of a Ravens fans, like I assume most of the people reading this are, that of course means the next guy that’s currently presumed to be in line after them is Baltimore’s 2018 first-round pick, Lamar Jackson. When Mahomes signed his deal, people sympathetic to cause of Eric DeCosta and his merry band of salary cap gurus that do their business at 1 Winning Drive immediately started sounding off about how Kansas City’s move to lock up their guy would affect the process in Owings Mills. While it ultimately will, it will be in a more indirect sense. The deal or deals that directly affect Jackson’s will be the ones signed by the two guys we just mentioned. Prescott has been in what can only be assumed to be heated talks with Dallas brass over a new deal for what feels like an eternity at this point. Per an article discussing Mahomes’ extension via ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the two sides have been having trouble coming together on the length of the deal rather than the money. Prescott is currently slated to play 2020 on the franchise tag, as his whole contract negotiation process has been expedited by the fact that he wasn’t a first round pick; had he been, the Cowboys would’ve been able to apply the fifth year option to him, granting themselves some breathing room. Perhaps due to his status as a mid-rounder who’s made very little money in his career so far (especially relative to his value to the Cowboys), Prescott is seeking a shorter deal that includes mostly guaranteed money over the life of it (think Kirk Cousins three-year, fully guaranteed deal with the Vikings a few years ago). Dallas likely sees a longer-term deal with some of the guaranteed money more spread out as a better option for a team who’s books are stacked with some hefty contracts right now and have some other young star talent to pay down the line as well. This promises to be a similar situation to Deshaun Watson, albeit for different reasons. At 24 years old with a couple of stellar seasons and a playoff win under his belt, Watson’s time to capitalize on his superstardom has come, and there’s no doubt Houston would love to be the franchise to help him do so. They have cap problems of their own at the moment though, and that’s to say entirely nothing of the relationship between the team and their quarterback being somewhat strained as of now to say the least. Watson has been vocal in his displeasure about the Deandre Hopkins trade, and plenty of word has been leaking out of the team’s locker room about several players being less than thrilled with the way Bill O’Brien has been running things, both from a coach and a general manager perspective. From an organizational perspective, the short-term deal makes sense with both players as well. Kansas City seems set for a pretty long time as things stand, with Andy Reid having plenty of years left in the tank, and Brett Veach now having cemented himself as one of the league’s top executives thanks to a couple of moves that really put the Chiefs over the top last season. Meanwhile in Texas, the Cowboys are always at the very least a chaotic circus led by the polarizing Jerry Jones, and the Texans haven’t shown much of an ability to surround Watson with the requisite talent he needs to succeed (not to mention a recent ownership change, and all of O’Brien’s antics as well). So how does Lamar Jackson figure into all of this? It’s about finding out exactly where he falls into the theoretical spectrum of these two types of contracts. With Mahomes and the Chiefs, an unprecedentedly long-term deal - with spread out guarantees resulting in around a $28 million dollar per year average - makes about as much sense as a deal like that could at this point in time. With Prescott and Watson, uncertainty surrounding the franchise’s respective futures, and a desire to cash in now and leave themselves an opportunity to do so again soon seems to rule the conversation. As far as Lamar goes, his performance in 2020 is first and foremost the absolute paramount to these negotiations - an argument can almost strangely be made that his MVP season came at a somewhat inopportune time for him. Had he made a slight leap forward in ‘19, and then parlayed that into the massive breakout that we already saw into his 2020 season, he’d assuredly be on his way to signing a deal that resembles Mahomes to a certain extent as soon as the time came. Now with statistical regression almost expected out of him at this point, he has to go out and prove that regardless of whether his numbers drop off slightly, he’s still rolling with the punches at the pace we saw from him in 2019. And then of course, come the Prescott and Watson negotiations. Prescott could hypothetically have his deal done within a week (his franchise tag deadline is July 15th), and Watson’s could be another year or so out, but no matter when they happen, they will be of importance to Lamar’s representation in a much different way than Mahomes’ ever was. With the Chiefs and their quarterback, it was only a matter of time, and the question wasn’t about keeping the average annual salary low, it was how high could they keep it from going? Mahomes’ momentum to the top of the league has been strapped to a rocket ship, and that was thanks in large part to him being in a near-perfect situation. The next guys in line may not quite be on his level as individual players, but they also don’t have nearly the same luck that he does when it comes to organizational competence. As a result, their contract negotiations are no sure thing, and it will be especially telling just how close they come to that $28 million per year figure, and how many years their guaranteed money is spread out over. In looking at Jackson’s situation, he’s setup well from an organizational support standpoint, and his stock is soaring right now. Keeping his Q Rating as high as possible over the next year will absolutely be his goal so he can make it to the negotiating table and get something done without a hitch a-la Mahomes, but that’s of course the best case scenario. What happens with his other two contemporaries who play in the Lone Star State will be very important to Jackson’s contract situation provided things don’t go as smoothly as everyone hopes, and that’s why keeping an eye on those two guys over the foreseeable future is going to be extremely interesting as a Ravens fan. Regardless, if he goes out and wins a Super Bowl in his third season after an MVP campaign in his second, it shouldn’t come as any surprise or displeasure to anyone if he cashes in handsomely like the last guy to follow that blueprint just did.
Ravens News 7/8: Long term contracts and moreby Vasilis Lericos on July 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports 2017’S FIRST-ROUND CBS SET TO CASH IN - Joe Marino MARLON HUMPHREY, BALTIMORE RAVENS Since Wink Martindale took over as the defensive coordinator in 2018, the Baltimore Ravens are the most blitz-heavy defense in the NFL. While it’s an aggressive strategy, the results cannot be argued with. In each of his two seasons coordinating Baltimore’s defense, the Ravens have finished in the top four of the NFL in both points and yards allowed. A big reason why the defense has been so successful is the play of cornerback Marlon Humphrey, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Humphrey thrives in press coverage, disrupting receivers at the line of scrimmage and taking them off the menu for the quarterback. Between Humphrey’s ability to erase wide receivers and the heavy doses of blitzing, considerable stress is placed on opposing quarterbacks to make quick and good decisions with the football. Humphrey has developed into a top cornerback and he’s part of the engine that makes the Ravens defense work. MOVE TO SAFETY COULD EXTEND JIMMY SMITH’S CAREER - Trevor Sikkema As I was catching up some of Smith’s top plays over the years, the ones that really caught my eye were the ones where he was able to read and react to the quarterback’s eyes in off zone coverage. That read and react principle is the main component of playing coverage safety. As Martindale said, Smith has been asked to cover tight ends, and he’ll likely continue to do so as a hybrid safety. But we already know Smith is comfortable in man coverage roles where he’s getting physical with bigger receivers. With Earl Thomas still on the team, Smith likely won’t be playing the single-high role for Baltimore. But as that hybrid rotational safety and fourth cornerback on the depth chart, Smith should see plenty of action in 2020. He might even be in a better position to succeed, given his current skill set, as a player who can function in space, read and react. Ranking NFL divisions by WRs: NFC South loaded with ridiculous talent, Cowboys’ trio boosts NFC East - Jared Dubin 5. AFC North Bengals: A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins Browns: Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins Ravens: Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Willie Snead Steelers: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington If we knew that A.J. Green was going to be healthy and the same A.J. Green he’s always been, this division might have been even higher on the list. As-is, though, the group is a bit top-heavy. Green has the ceiling of a top-five guy, but we can’t count on it. The same goes for Beckham, who has dealt with injuries and inconsistent quarterback play the past few years. Smith-Schuster looked like he was ticketed to join that group, but then he underwhelmed in a big way last season. (Other receivers have done far better despite horrid quarterback play.) But Boyd is a good No. 2 guy. So is Landry, who was finally allowed to stretch the field a bit last season, freed as he was from Adam Gase and Hue Jackson’s offenses. Johnson flashed a ton of talent despite the aforementioned terrible QB play in Pittsburgh, and could emerge as a strong option alongside JuJu. The Ravens have enormous hopes for Hollywood Brown, and rightfully so, but the receiver corps is a bit wanting beyond that, even if you include rookie Devin Duvernay. Higgins should be able to ease into the Cincy offense as the third option this year, before eventually becoming Joe Burrow’s top target somewhere down the line. Baltimore Ravens position preview: How will the running back rotation shake out? - Aaron Kasinitz Splitting the touches Even if Dobbins shatters expectations when he arrives in Baltimore, the Ravens won’t want to shoo away their other running backs. Ingram is coming off his third Pro Bowl appearance, Edwards has turned in steady production as a powerful ball-carrier the past two years and Hill’s speed helps provide a change of pace. It’s not a bad problem to have, but the Ravens do need to figure out the best way to divvy up carries in training camp and beyond. Roster prediction The Ravens last season kept just three running backs throughout the regular season (not including fullback Patrick Ricard), but it’s worth trimming another area of the roster to hang onto four valuable playmakers. Thoughts on Mahomes $450 Million Contract - Jason Fitzgerald Though the numbers are eye popping my guess is around the league teams will be very receptive of this contract. While contracts have turned to shorter terms this contract runs 10 additional years. That gives a team like the Cowboys a stronger argument for asking Dak Prescott for five years. The just under $40 million per year five year total is right around what most franchises would have expected for Mahomes while the cash flow breakdown is much more team friendly than anyone could have anticipated. I would expect the $39.5M/5 figure to be a major block on QB salaries moving forward much in the way Aaron Rodgers blocked the market for years with his 2013 extension and the team friendly cash flows could impact offers during the covid timeframe. Most will probably be neutral on the guarantee structure though I think some teams would be more than happy to guarantee five years if it means 10 years of cost certainty. All eyes now will be on Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson if Jackson duplicates his MVP season. If I were the Texans or the Ravens next year I would look at these up front numbers and try to jump on a contract that runs along that Wilson deal in return for added years. If those teams can convince those players to do something like this these long contracts might become the norm again in the NFL. If they don’t then this will just be a one off outlier contract that will have some saying Mahomes is a even more of a bargain 5 or 6 years from now.
Sophomore predictions: Daylon Mackby Dustin Cox on July 7, 2020 at 4:45 pm
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images In this series, I will be analyzing each of the Ravens 2019 draft picks and predicting what fans should reasonably expect from each player during their second season. After three selections in the fourth round, Baltimore selected DT Daylon Mack out of Texas A&M in the fifth round with pick No. 160. Mack only played in one regular season game for the Ravens as a rookie in 2019. With the departure of defensive tackles Michael Pierce and Domato Peko Sr. in free agency, Mack has an opportunity to carve out a role on the team, although he will certainly face competition. At 6-foot-1, 340 pounds, Mack fits the bill as a prototypical nose tackle in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Playing only 53.88% of the snaps last season, veteran DT Brandon Williams will need someone else to step up in the rotation to fill the absence of Pierce and Peko. Mack’s competition for this role includes rookie third-round pick and former Aggie teammate Justin Madubuike, fifth-round pick Broderick Washington, and veteran Justin Ellis. Madubuike was somewhat of a surprise to fall to the third round of the draft and could help provide more interior pass rush as a rotational player. Washington is more of a project at this point, so Mack should have the advantage over him for now. Ellis is the only experienced player among the group, but he only played 6.12% of the defensive snaps and recorded just six tackles, mainly riding the bench after being signed off the street by Baltimore last season. With so much inexperience behind the three starters along the defensive line (Williams, Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe), I predict that Mack will earn a role as a rotational player in his second season with a snap percentage of around 20-30%, but will play less than his former teammate Madubuike, who provides more pass-rushing upside from the position.