The Baltimore Ravens are heading toward the offseason looking to get themselves on the right track toward a run of more success in 2021 and beyond, and a key first step in doing this will be winning the free agency period.
Typically, the Ravens have a solid and measured approach under Eric DeCosta which helps them remain competitive. The team will do short-term deals with players that fit their culture and their system, and such work helps them remain financially solvent as well as build the best team. As a result, they often do re-sign their own players in order to keep momentum.
This offseason, the Ravens could have some competition as it relates to doing that on the open market, and it’s due in large part to the fact that the team lost one of their key coaches to Jacksonville. Joe Cullen left the Baltimore staff to become the defensive coordinator of the Jaguars, and could end up taking some folks with him when all is said and done.
According to an update from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Ravens could be set to lose free agents to the Jaguars thanks to this connection, and they could come on the defensive side of the ball.
La Canfora wrote:
“Keep an eye on the Jacksonville Jaguars plucking multiple Ravens in free agency. Their new defense, led by former Ravens assistant Joe Cullen as their new coordinator, is going to prize many of the same body types and characteristics that worked for Wink Martindale so well in Baltimore.
Only Jacksonville has oodles of cap space and that owner is prepared to spend big for new coach Urban Meyer and it will be hard for the Ravens to compete to keep many (any?) of their bounty of edge defenders who are not under contract for next season. That’s a diverse list led by Matt Judon, who played on the franchise tag in 2020 and is an uber-versatile defender. Tyus Bowser was among the NFL league leaders in interceptions by a linebacker. He has a nice get-home rate on pressures/drop backs and he is stout enough setting the edge and is just 25 years old with upside; some believe he could land in the $10M-a- year range if not more.
Pernell McPhee and Jihad Ward were great low-cost, one-year fits for the Ravens, but they may see action from the Jags as well. One edge guy who won’t be headed to Jacksonville is former Jags franchise player Yannick Ngakoue, who struggled in Baltimore and left $6M on the table just to get out of Jacksonville before the season.”
The Ravens do have some key players that Cullen could poach, and if they look to make a move, it could be seamless considering his knowledge of the scheme. Obviously, the Ravens will have to guard against this as best they can, but one of the most prepared front offices in the league will likely have a plan to deal with this.
Ravens Lost Joe Cullen to Jaguars
As pointed out, the reason the Ravens could be set to see a mass exodus from free agents on the roster is Cullen’s presence as a rival defensive coordinator. Cullen worked with the Ravens for five seasons as the team’s defensive line coach, so he surely has been able to pick up some quality tips from the likes of Don Martindale. Cullen has never been a defensive coordinator before, and it’s his first stint as a coordinator of any kind since he worked with Memphis in 2001.
To ease that transition, it will be interesting to see how many familiar Ravens free agents Cullen does consider when all is said and done.
Free Agency Needs for Ravens
The Ravens are going to have no shortage of needs in terms of free agency. In addition to the defense to account for losses elsewhere, the team could look to grab pieces for the offense, especially at wide receiver.
The good news is if a big wideout is the team’s top need, that can be found on the market with ease this year. Kenny Golladay and Allen Robinson aren’t the only two big names at wideout this offseason who might be lured by the team. There are multiple other free agent options the Ravens could look into such as A.J. Green of the Bengals, Marvin Jones of the Lions, Sammy Watkins of the Chiefs, T.Y. Hilton of the Colts, Corey Davis of the Titans and Will Fuller of the Texans. Any of those players could give the Ravens some of their down field punch the offense has been lacking, and most of those guys minus Green are currently in their prime in their late 20s or early 30s.
The draft also figures to be deep with pass catchers, so the Ravens could find a big target there if they so choose. Free agency, though, would likely be the best way for the team to add someone to the mix who could stretch the field and do damage on a defense. Baltimore is estimated to have just over $23 million in cap space, so they could possibly make some bigger additions happen.
The Ravens might have some bigger holes to fill if the Jaguars decide to start making moves and grabbing key players away from them.