Over the last two decades, when someone mentioned the Baltimore Ravens, chances are you immediately thought of their defense. You’d think of players such as Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, and more recently guys like C.J. Mosley and Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens are known for defense, and with an important free agency season on the horizon, they’ll need to have their eye on some key defensive free agents.
It was a new-look Ravens defense in 2020, as players like Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and Patrick Queen joined the starting group. As a unit, Baltimore was ninth in total defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. As the fifth-ranked DVOA defense last season, it’s a drop, but still in the top 10. Against the pass, they were ranked 10th, and against the run, they were ranked 12th. Overall, a very strong performance from them, which yielded a playoff berth.
The Ravens have a projected $29 million in cap space going into the 2021 new league year, which is the 11th most of any team in the NFL. But they also have some big names on their roster they’ll be looking to retain, especially on defense.
One of the big names they’ll have to focus on is pass rusher Ngakoue. After acquiring Ngakoue from the Vikings for the price of a third-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick, Ngakoue finished the season with 11 tackles, three sacks, and two quarterback hits. Another pass rusher who is set to hit unrestricted free agency is Matthew Judon. Judon played this past season on the franchise tag and finished the season with six sacks and 21 QB hits. This coming off his career-high 9.5 sacks in 2019. After those two, players like Derek Wolfe, Tyus Bowser, Pernell McPhee, Jihad Ward, Tramon Williams, and Anthony Levine are also hitting the market.
With those names out there for consideration, here are three defensive free agents the Ravens could go after if they have the capital to do so.
Marcus Maye, S, New York Jets
Projected AAV: $13 million
This would be a high-priced target for the Ravens, but if they want to upgrade their free safety spot, Maye could be the top guy on their list. Maye has been a bright spot for the Jets’ defense over the past few years, especially after the team moved on from All-Pro safety Jamal Adams. Maye was the better coverage player of the young safety duo, and as such, won’t come cheap. Chuck Clark can remain the strong safety while Maye can play on the back end. Sounds good in theory, but can they make the money work?
Malik Hooker, S, Indianapolis Colts
Projected AAV: $2-3 million
Hooker is not that far removed from being the No. 15 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. But injuries have plagued not only his playing availability, but also his ability when back out on the field. Most recently, he tore his Achilles at the beginning of the 2020 season and missed all but two games. Coming out of Ohio State, he showed rare range as a free safety that could give a defense the ability to play single-high looks in almost any situation. The injury history is why he could be had at a bargain. If you can trust the health, this could be a good gamble.
Leonard Floyd, OLB, Los Angeles Rams
Projected AAV: $13 million
Floyd is another player who might be too rich for the Ravens’ salary cap if they bring back both Ngakoue and Judon—but if one of them does not return, Floyd could be on their radar. He is coming off the most productive season of his career sack-wise with 10.5 in 2020. The Ravens would be wise to make sure they know exactly how Floyd was able to be so successful—outside of just saying he played with Aaron Donald—as a wide-9 rusher. If they believe they can put him in a similar situation to succeed, this could work for them, especially with their tendency to go with odd front, stand-up pass rushers from the outside linebacker spots.
- Jun 28, 2022
- Jun 24, 2022