Having lost star inside linebacker C.J. Mosley in the offseason to the New York Jets, who gave him the biggest contract for a player at that position ever, the Baltimore Ravens figure to be in need of a replacement. While they should have Patrick Onwuasor back as a restricted free agent, the current ‘next man up’ is second-year Kenny Young, who did play nearly 400 snaps in 2018.
To address the hole in their starting lineup, the team reportedly targeted former Denver Broncos starter Brandon Marshall. He ultimately signed with the Oakland Raiders, but he told reporters that there were five teams showing earlier and more urgent interest in him.
Some of them ended up seeking alternatives, like the Los Angeles Chargers signing Thomas Davis and the Arizona Cardinals scooping up Jordan Hicks. Not so for the Ravens. In spite of the fact that, as he told reporters, they wanted to do a long-term deal, there was one stipulation he would not settle for.
According to Nicki Jhabvala, the Ravens told him that they were going to sign him after the draft, on May 8, which is the day that free agent signings no longer count against the compensatory pick formula. So in order to preserve their compensatory picks, Baltimore was willing to lose out on signing a starter to a long-term contract.
He said the Ravens were interested in giving him a long-term deal, but he would have to wait until May 8 so they could keep their 2020 compensatory picks. A lot can change with the draft, and he couldn’t trust that promise.
Said Oakland was where he wanted to go all along.
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) March 29, 2019
As you surely know by now, the Ravens under Ozzie Newsome were very active and conscientious in playing the compensatory formula game. They have been awarded 50 additional picks since its inceptions, which is several more than any other team, and this is in spite of the fact that compensatory picks began to be awarded a couple years before the franchise was founded.
Now, Baltimore has been a little more ambitious than they often are. Though they lost Mosley, for example, they did counter and signed safety Earl Thomas to what would have been the largest contract ever given to a safety had Landon Collins not beaten him to the punch a few days earlier.
They also lost John Brown and Terrell Suggs in free agency, but the signings of Mark Ingram and Justin Bethel project to cancel those out. But they are still projected to be in line for a third-round compensatory pick for the loss of Za’Darius Smith.
And new General Manager Eric DeCosta is evidently eager to protect that resource for 2020. In the meantime, they continue to search for another inside linebacker, which could result to them setting their sights on the draft.
But if they have any hope of landing one of the top two names at the position in the first round, they are surely going to have to trade up to get him, especially with the Pittsburgh Steelers lurking a couple spots ahead of them, by virtue of their having won the AFC North over them and reached the postseason.