The Baltimore Ravens have a very good organization with a generally good sense for talent. One area in which they have consistently struggled throughout their entire history, however, has been in scouting wide receiver talent. A more recent deficiency has been in the pass rush, which has striven to heights no greater than adequate.
Their pass rush certainly did not get better yesterday, as both of their top free agent pass rushers Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, agreed to terms with teams elsewhere. Judon, who spent five years with the team, is expected to sign a four-year deal worth $56 million with the New England Patriots.
As for Ngakoue, a former Pro Bowler whom they acquired via trade in the middle of last season from the Jacksonville Jaguars for third- and conditional fifth-round picks, he agreed to terms with the Las Vegas Raiders on a deal reportedly paying him $26 million over two years.
The Ravens ultimately compiled 39 sacks as a defense last season, which certainly isn’t terrible, but also not very good. Judon was the only player on the roster who cracked five sacks, however, and he finished with a grand total of six, despite making the Pro Bowl anyway.
So what exactly comes next? Thus far, they have re-signed the veteran Pernell McPhee, who certainly is not a marquee name. A former draft pick, Tyus Bowser, is also on the open market. Jaylon Ferguson is pretty much all they’ve got under contract in terms of true edge talent.
Jamison Hensley, the Ravens’ beat writer for ESPN, wrote on Twitter that the team went into free agency expecting to lose both players, which doesn’t seem to be the greatest plan in the world. They are now counting on finding success with pass rushers they don’t currently have.
Hensley offers a list of free agent pass rushers who could come cheaper, such as Justin Houston, Ryan Kerrigan, or Jadeveon Clowney. The alternative is to utilize the draft, but this is not one of the stronger years for edge pass rushers.
Baltimore’s pass rush threat has idled around the average mark for the past several seasons, having been given strength by the talent that they have had in the secondary. They have Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey as their starting outside cornerbacks, which helps buy them valuable time.
But it would seem they might want to invest more in this area. I know they like to play the compensatory pick game, but sometimes it costs them…and those 100th-overall picks they get don’t always land. Of course, time will tell.