With the first preseason game just under two weeks away, the league will start to see a wave of surprise releases due to a myriad of different reasons. Most of which have to do with money or the emergence of a cheaper option. Baltimore figures to be in the waiver wire scene this year like every other year. Surprise camp cuts are in the front office’s ”wheelhouse”.
Baltimore Ravens Cap Situation
At the start of camp, veteran cornerback Marlon Humphrey helped the team and converted a majority of his salary into a signing bonus, and freed up more than seven million dollars on the cap. Before the renegotiation, the Ravens had under one million dollars available.
Holdout rookie linebacker David Ojabo will not eat up much of this total when he signs his rookie deal. Signing quarterback Lamar Jackson to an extension would free up north of 15 million dollars in cap space, but that’s a completely different conversation. Let’s take a look at some available pass rushers.
Veteran EDGE rusher Dee Ford was released by the San Francisco 49ers yesterday after an injury-plagued stint with the organization. Ford played just 18 games into an 85 million dollar extension. He has been battling back issues for the past three seasons. San Francisco had hoped Ford would provide a bookend to All-Pro defensive end Nick Bosa.
At just 31 years old, Ford will be looking to join his third team. He was a first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014. Throughout his career, Ford has shown flashes of greatness. When healthy, he is a menace on the field. In a game predicated on passing and getting to the passer, Ford won’t be a free agent for long.
Baltimore would be smart to kick the tires on Ford. He is a proven pass rusher. Ford has tallied 40 sacks since entering the NFL. The team could take a similar approach to him as they did with offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James. Give him a two-year backloaded contract to get healthy and compete when he’s ready. Signing Ford would also reunite him with former pass-rushing partner Justin Houston.
Last month, the Baltimore Ravens had Jason Pierre-Paul in for a free agent visit. From the outside looking in, ”JPP” seemed to enjoy his visit and there were a couple of reports that a deal was imminent. He is approaching his mid-thirties and has had injury issues the last few seasons as a Buccaneer. When healthy, there is not much you can say about Pierre-Paul’s pass-rushing abilities.
In twelve seasons, Pierre-Paul has amassed 600 tackles, 91.5 sacks, 21 forced fumbles, and 61 pass deflections. For not being healthy 100% of the time, Jason has averaged 50 tackles/~8 sacks/5 pass deflections/~2 forced fumbles per year. That’s impressive given the fact he wasn’t a full-time starter when the New York Giants drafted him in 2010. He sat behind Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.
While it’s not out of the question, the issue before was the monetary value of the contract. Given that camp is underway, Baltimore could return to the idea of bringing in ”JPP” on a one-year prove-it deal.
It is quite puzzling that Anthony Barr has not been linked to the Baltimore Ravens this offseason. The former Minnesota Viking is still at home waiting on a call to join an NFL roster. Barr would be a welcome addition to the Ravens’ defense. At only 30 years old, Barr has played primarily in former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer’s traditional 4-3 defense.
Adding Barr to the current Ravens defense would add flexibility to new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s schemes. He has the ability to rush the passer, set the edge, and cover the middle of the field. Barr would also add a veteran presence to the linebacker group alongside Josh Bynes and Justin Houston.
Not to be repetitive, I can only assume Barr is sitting at home because of his contract asking price compounded with his durability in recent years. According to PFF, Barr had his best year last season since 2018. While snap counts weren’t as high in 2021, Barr still displayed the ability to be a contributor on the field.
If Barr were to sign with the Ravens, he would not need to be the do-it-all linebacker he was in his prime. Barr could move around the defense and provide rest for Bynes and Houston while guiding youngsters Patrick Queen and Odafe Oweh.
There are quite a few names of yester-year that also remain free agents. Former Raven Pernell McPhee remains available. Ryan Kerrigan, KJ Wright, Carl Nassib, Jeremiah Attaochu, AJ Klein, and Takkarist McKinley are free agents as well, just to name a few. There is a reason all of the aforementioned players are free agents.
Teams don’t release good pass rushers. When it comes to Baltimore, there’s always a crunch on the cap space. Players won’t always take reduced contracts for a chance at a ring. With some cap space relief, one of these players or a surprise cut may be donning the purple and black before the start of the 2022 season.