The Baltimore Ravens had one of the top defensive units in all of the NFL last season. But many of their key pieces are currently scheduled to be free agents, and new general manager Eric DeCosta has some tough decisions ahead for himself to determine how he wants to assemble their defense for 2019, and that includes determining which players they want to keep from that group.
The top name in that class is inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, who has been a Pro Bowler nearly ever year since he was drafted. The Ravens declined to offer him a long-term extension last offseason on his fifth-year option. Now they have to decide if they want to slap the franchise tag on him.
In addition to Mosley, there is Terrell Suggs, who has remained an effective pass rusher in particular as a rotational defender at the age of 37. Za’Darius Smith, another pass rusher who is coming off a career season, is also scheduled to be a free agent, but they have a history of letting these players go.
Those are the three biggest names, though there is also defensive end Brent Urban, and Michael Pierce is a restricted free agent. As a former college free agent, they would have to give him a higher tender most likely to protect him.
Beyond that, they also have to make decisions about how they want to handle some of their veterans. For example, safety Eric Weddle has openly ruminated about whether or not the Ravens might decide to release him in the final year of his contract in order to shave off some salary cap space. He said that he would retire if they decide to do that.
Baltimore is a team that has historically been unafraid of the prospect of turning to their depth, but also supplementing in free agency—particularly among street free agents. Weddle was a street free agent because he was released by his previous team.
But that was under Ozzie Newsome. DeCosta has been his protégé for long time, but that doesn’t mean that he is going to follow the exact same blueprint that his mentor left behind for him. This is the first offseason in which we will really see his fingerprints all over the team.
I do know one thing, and that is that the Pittsburgh Steelers would likely be among the many teams interested in Mosley should he be allowed to hi the open market. The Ravens have allowed a number of top talents reach the market, though not at the inside linebacker position.