After a fizzled out 2021 season, the Ravens appear to be gunning for a bounceback year fueled by free agency spending.
Veteran writer John Eisenberg calls it a matter of “urgency”:
“In the first days of free agency, the Ravens have handed out more than $100 million in contracts, addressed three of their biggest positional needs (secondary, offensive line, defensive line) and tried to address a fourth (pass rush). I’m not into grades, but they’re way better than a week ago.
“Seldom are they so willing to take swings when costs are higher at the outset of free agency. But seldom do they have such urgency after a disappointing season. General Manager Eric DeCosta recently said they were “probably a little embarrassed” not to make the playoffs. This is the response.
“We need a nickname for the three free agents they’ve signed, safety Marcus Williams, offensive tackle Morgan Moses and defensive tackle Michael Pierce. To me, Marcus, Morgan and Michael sounds like the law firm I’m calling if I get rear-ended on the Beltway. I can already hear the TV jingle.
No doubt, Williams’ age was a huge factor in convincing the Ravens to pursue him and give him a big deal. Seldom does a high-caliber player so young hit the market. Eric Weddle was 31 for his first game in Baltimore. Earl Thomas was 30. Williams turns 26 in September.
“I had to laugh at Williams’ response to the obligatory question about whether he watched Ed Reed growing up. Instead of lauding the Ravens’ legendary safety, Williams said, in so many words, that he didn’t pay attention. Don’t take it personally, Ed. Even the fondest memories grow dim over time.
“Moses wasn’t signed to compete for a starting job. He IS the starting right tackle. His signing solidifies that side of the O-line, with Kevin Zeitler entrenched at right guard. It remains to be seen who’ll occupy the other three starting spots, but the dose of clarity is welcomed.
“Moses’ addition also underscores the value of Patrick Mekari’s versatility. Moving on from right tackle, where he played well last season, he might be the starting center in 2022. Also possibly the starting left guard. And he can fill in at all five spots in an emergency. That’s a valuable piece.
“Although their pursuit of Za’Darius Smith didn’t end with his signature on a contract, it revealed the Ravens’ desire to upgrade their pass rush before the draft next month. I’m not sure what they can afford as they dive back into an expensive market, but the desire is there.”
Pierce played well for the Vikings when healthy and available. Actually, he played really well. But his health and availability were constant issues. The Ravens like their chances of helping him get beyond that in a reunion. If he does, he’ll clog the middle and get after quarterbacks.
Addressing so many needs in free agency really frees up DeCosta to draft the best player available in the first round. Another O-lineman, D-lineman, defensive back or a pass rusher would all be welcomed, but all that matters is getting a player who deserves to go No. 14 overall.