Since the end of last season, the Baltimore Ravens have lost no fewer than four starters on the offensive side of the ball. right tackle Rick Wagner signed a big-money contract in free agency, as did fullback Kyle Juszczyk, while wide receiver Steve Smith announced his retirement and center Jeremy Zuttah was traded in order to create cap space.
None of these position have been filled yet, although there may be some internal answers, albeit downgrades, for the loss of their two starting offensive linemen. The Ravens have made a number of significant moves so far during free agency, but outside of the addition of Danny Woodhead at running back—which comes against a four-game suspension for Kenneth Dixon—the offensive side of the ball has been left out of the upgrades.
Which is a bit perplexing when you consider the fact that the offense has been by far the bigger problem for the Ravens than has the defense. They still had one of the better defenses in the league in 2016, but their offense left quite a bit to be desired.
If the Ravens’ plan is to waltz into next season with the likes of John Urschel and James Hurst in the starting lineup, then they are in for a rude awakening. Joe Flacco already played with jitters last season coming off a year that ended with a torn ACL. Losing two of his protectors isn’t doing him any favors.
The loss of Smith is significant and cannot be understated. The Ravens basically have nobody of note now at the wide receiver position other than Mike Wallace, who success waxed and waned over the course of the season as opposing teams adjusted to him, even if he did have his best season in a couple of years.
There is former first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman, who caught 33 passes for 499 yards and three touchdowns last season. Perhaps they are counting upon him to be able to take on a starting role for them in 2017, but one would have to think that they are looking at adding another player here.
The loss of Juszczyk is a curious one, as he is a player that did so many different things for the Ravens, so his contributions will have to be dispersed piecemeal among other players. He wasn’t the standard bulldozer type of fullback, though finding one of those might not be too hard to find.
While the Ravens do have a lot of work to do on the offensive side of the ball, there is of course time remaining. Many have speculated that the team will approach center Nick Mangold, who was released by the Jets earlier this year. That would be in keeping with their tendency to target street free agents to retain compensatory pick eligibility.