A First Look At The Baltimore Ravens 2022 Off-Season

January 11, 2022

After a disheartening home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens season is officially over. A tumultuous year full of injuries and setbacks is finally complete. The Baltimore Ravens limped into their Week 18 showdown with The Steelers and held on to the very end. With a final score of 16-13 and a few other things falling in Pittsburgh’s favor, they will go on to face Kansas City next weekend in the Wild Card Round. Ben’s farewell tour lasts one more week.

The Baltimore Ravens entered December 8-3 with the playoffs firmly in their grasp. After a failed two-point conversion in Pittsburgh on December 5th, Baltimore did not win the rest of the year. That loss in Heinz Field had them reeling. Baltimore lost five of their last six games by a total of eight points. The lone loss by more than a touchdown was the second beatdown by the Cincinnati Bengals 41-21.

This brings us to the first off-season, starting early in three seasons. This year marks the first season that a Lamar Jackson-led Ravens team has missed the playoffs. It also marks the beginning of the off-season that will define the Eric DeCosta era. With the current crop of Ravens set to be free agents and the salary commitments of the 2022 Ravens roster, we will see some beloved Baltimore Ravens players walk in free agency. Cap casualties, if you will.

Current Cap Space/Contracts

According to Spotrac.com, the Baltimore Ravens currently sit at just under 23 million dollars in cap space. While the exact cap number for the 2022 season has not been announced yet, I don’t expect that number to increase exponentially. This number excludes the potential contract restructures and releases. Eric DeCosta has his work cut out for him. We had seen DeCosta make in-season magic before, with the additions of Marcus Peters and Yannick Ngakoue acquired midseason in 2019 and 2020.

Headlining the current crop of Baltimore Ravens free agents are all world fullback/tight end/defensive tackle Patrick Ricard and center Bradley Bozeman. With the cap situation as-is, signing both of these players to extensions is unrealistic. Bradley Bozeman will undoubtedly warrant a nice payday. He has played at an All-Pro level all season. Bozeman could potentially reset the market for the Center position. Baltimore fans should start bracing for the exit of a second All-Pro Center leaving within the last four years, the other being Ryan Jensen.

Patrick Ricard is in line for his second extension as a Raven in the last three years. After the 2019 season, the Baltimore Ravens inked Ricard to a two-year extension worth $7.3 million. Ricard has shown his worth in the last two years and will command a much larger contract. Ricard played out of position for the majority of the year with the injury of Nick Boyle. Pat was used more as a move-back/tight-end hybrid to compensate for the absence of Boyle.

The fear amongst the Ravens’ Flock fan base is that another team will swoop in and over-pay Ricard. The same fear came true in 2017 when the San Fransisco 49ers signed Kyle Juszczyk to a four-year, 21 million dollar deal. Many teams have phased out the fullback position, but the teams that still use them will be knocking on the door of Patrick Ricard.

The Baltimore Ravens will have some tough decisions on some tenured players. Brandon Williams will most likely be on a new team next year. After his mega-deal in 2017, his play fell off considerably, and durability became an issue. Calais Campbell has indicated this was his last year but has walked back those comments recently. Campbell will not be back in Baltimore at the price of his restructured deal after the trade from Jacksonville. Furthermore, Sammy Watkins was a one-and-done in Baltimore as well. The production output did not meet the five million dollar price tag that came with him the last off-season.

Veteran acquisitions such as Justin Houston and Josh Bynes could return on veteran minimum deals, but both will have a decent market for their services. Running backs Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman held down the Ravens backfield this year. Murray and Freeman played well down the stretch and should catch onto another team next season. With JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards coming off torn ACLs, Murray or Freeman could see themselves back in purple next year. Additionally, Latavius Murray may be gone based on his 150 plus yard performance in Week 18.

LJ Fort, Anthony Levine, Anthony Averett, and DeShon Elliott are the remaining notable free agents that remain. DeShon Elliott ended the third season of his four total on injured reserve. The Ravens may be able to retain his services on a one-year prove-it deal so he can test the 2023 free-agent market. This year, Anthony Averett played well despite the fan base’s constant bashing.

He played out of the Baltimore price range with his 2021 play. Anthony Levine is the heart and soul of the defense. One of the few remaining Super Bowl 47 players, Levine’s play has taken a dip. “Co-Cap” may be at the end of his playing days. Two Super Bowl rings and an excellent, long career have served him well. LJ Fort is coming off a torn ACL, and re-signing him would tighten up a subpar inside linebacker group.

Hopefully, the Baltimore Ravens can create salary cap room in the form of cutting Alejandro Villanueva. I don’t care what the dead cap space is; get him out of here. Please.

Outside Free Agents

Baltimore will be on the lookout for bargain deals again this off-season. With the current cap hell, signing big-name free agents will not be in the cards for them in 2022. Players such as Chandler Jones, Brandon Scherff, Davante Adams, Vonn Miller, Chris Godwin, and Allen Robinson will not be making their way to Charm City. It will not be feasible financially to add any of these types of players. We are in the real world, salary-capped NFL and not Madden Football with the cap turned off.