While they don’t hit on every position, the Baltimore Ravens typically have a good problem on their hands: They have to decide which talent to retain for the long-term, and which to allow to hit free agency. They have done better than anybody managing the compensatory draft pick formula, but they also do a great job, for the most part, of retaining their core talent.
This is something that former general manager Ozzie Newsome did well, and frankly, his successor may do it even more. Eric DeCosta has made it a priority to keep talent around, even reaching in-season deals for players like Ronnie Stanley and Marcus Peters, a practice the Pittsburgh Steelers shy away from.
The focus on the future centers primarily on Lamar Jackson, their starting quarterback, and whether or not he will get his long-term extension this offseason, but tight end Mark Andrews, who came into the league with Jackson, is another key component as a Pro Bowler at his position, and he recently expressed his desire to stay put.
“I love Baltimore. I love being here. I love playing here”, he told reporters earlier this week. “I want to be here for the rest of my life, man. This is home for me. So, that’s where I’m at. I’m just going to, as a player, be the best player that I can be for this team. I know as a team that we all have a certain goal”.
A 2018 third-round draft pick, Andrews has been Jackson’s favorite weapon. He has 156 receptions in his three-year career on 236 targets, for 2,105 yards and 20 touchdowns. His Pro Bowl season of 2019 saw him bring in 64 passes for 852 yards and 10 scores.
And yet he doesn’t log as much time as you would think. He has only played 1,468 offensive snaps in his career, with his 597 snaps played in 2020 being his career-high. Part of that was because he had to earn playing time over Hayden Hurst, a tight end drafted in the first round the same year he was taken. The Ravens traded Hurst last offseason. That showed their commitment to him.
“You can’t worry about too much of the outside noise and what happens with that”, Andrews said. “I’m just going to let my play speak for itself. Obviously, I love Baltimore. I love being here, and I would love to be here for my whole life”.
He is a primary candidate to receive an extension, though what they can swing may be a factor. According to Over the Cap, the Ravens have about $11 million in cap space, so there is a bit of breathing room, and Andrews has a year-four base salary of $3.384 million, which can be folded down into the minimum by converting the majority into a signing bonus.