I think a strong argument can be made that no team has more consistently had solid, or even great, defenses over the course of the past 25 years than have the Baltimore Ravens. They have had so much success on that side of the ball that they have also lost a succession of coordinators to promotions to head coaching jobs, such as Rex Ryan and Chuck Pagano.
Will Don ‘Wink’ Martindale be the latest to walk for a promotion in 2021? Following two seasons as defensive coordinator in which he fielded a top-five unit, he was interviewed for some of the vacant head coaching positions this offseason, and is believed to be an early favorite for the inevitable new cycle of hires next year.
The Ravens are hoping to entice him to stay. They just signed him to a new three-year contract that makes him one of the highest-paid defensive coordinators in the NFL. It was originally reported that he had, in fact, been made the highest-paid, but it has subsequently been revised to report that he is now within the top 25 percent.
One of the most impressive facts about the Ravens’ 2019 team, which went 14-2 and saw the offense draw all the headlines, is that they still ranked as the fourth-overall defense, despite having one of the highest-scoring offenses of all time, and despite losing several prominent players, such as Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, and C.J. Mosley.
Prior to last season, even Mosley thought that he would be a Raven for life, the way Ray Lewis was. But then the New York Jets backed the money truck up to his door and hit the lever, and he signed. Unfortunately, his first season in New York was plagued by injuries.
As for Smith, he was something of a rotational player while he was with the Ravens, but he developed into a top pass rusher after signing with the Green Bay Packers, earning Pro Bowl recognition. He signed a very substantial contract in free agency, a deal the Ravens would not match, even though they also lost Suggs.
Speaking of whom, while he and the team he initially signed with, the Arizona Cardinals, ultimately parted ways, he would go on to be claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Chiefs. He wouldn’t play a huge role for them, but he did get a ring out of it. He’s now weighing whether or not to retire.
Despite these significant losses (not to mention Eric Weddle), Baltimore did have two very prominent additions as well. They replaced Weddle, for instance, with Earl Thomas, signing the second-largest contract for a safety in NFL history (short of only Landon Collins, who agreed to a deal the same offseason).
In-season, they also traded for Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters, whom they also signed to a contract extension during the year. He was previously scheduled to hit free agency.