3-Time Pro Bowl Edge Rusher Visits Ravens: Report

Ravens Jason Pierre-Paul

Getty Veteran edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul celebrates a play during a September 2021 game.

The Baltimore Ravens hosted former New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul on June 9, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, indicating that the Ravens may not be done adding to their defense this offseason.

Adding depth to the Ravens’ edge-rushing group is especially important with both rising star Tyus Bowser and 2022 second-round pick David Ojabo recovering from torn Achilles injuries suffered earlier this year.

At the moment, Baltimore has just one clear starting edge rusher in 2021 first-round pick Odafe Oweh, who is expected to take a substantial leap in his sophomore season. But that won’t be enough on its own for the Ravens, who struggled to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks for significant stretches last season.

Pierre-Paul would be a similar signing to last year’s addition of Justin Houston, who brought both pass-rushing chops and mentorship to the Ravens defense in 2021.

Like Houston, Pierre-Paul has a solid resume with three Pro Bowl appearances and 91.5 sacks in his 12-year career. He spent the first eight with the Giants, which included a sterling 2011 season that featured 16.5 sacks, a first-team All-Pro selection and a Super Bowl XLVI victory over the New England Patriots. Pierre-Paul continued to produce in New York, averaging 7.3 sacks per season despite a 2015 fireworks accident that resulted in an amputated right index finger.

Pierre-Paul was traded to the Buccaneers in 2017 shortly after signing a four-year contract during a massive roster overhaul by then-general manager Dave Gettleman.

The veteran edge rusher proved he still had plenty to offer, collecting 30.5 sacks in his first three seasons in Tampa Bay – as well as the second Super Bowl ring in his career – before taking a step back in 2021 with just 2.5 sacks. That was the first season since 2014 that Pierre-Paul recorded fewer than 40 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus, a worrying trend after a torn rotator cuff that the veteran said was “by far the worst” of his career.

Pierre-Paul played through the injury most of the season, resulting in a meager 6.5% pass rush win rate. He would need to be fully healthy in order to sign with the Ravens, who need depth right away with Bowser and Ojabo sidelined.

Pierre-Paul did undergo a physical with the Ravens during his visit, per USA Today’s Josina Anderson, and the former first round pick seemed to get “good vibes” from Baltimore.

Ravens Could Still Sign Houston

The Ravens also applied the little-used unrestricted free agent tag to Justin Houston, indicating that they’re interested in running it back with him as well. Though he struggled to get home in 2021, Houston still earned a 77.4 pass rush grade from PFF that led the Ravens defense and ranked first among the league’s top 25 edge defenders.

Signing both Pierre-Paul and Houston could limit the wear-and-tear on both veterans, while also giving the Ravens’ stable of young pass rusher two savvy mentors in 2022. 

Odafe Oweh Still ‘Day-by-Day’

Adding multiple edge defenders – even after the addition of former Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel – is even more pressing since Odafe Oweh is coming off a surgery of his own.

The second-year outside linebacker had shoulder surgery in January, but appears to be recovering well.

“I feel good, I feel good,” he told reporters on May 26, “I’m just trying to strengthen it, take it day-by-day, and I’m going to be out there soon.”

Oweh is present at the Ravens’ OTAs and participating in a limited capacity, with 2021 fifth-round pick Daelin Hayes impressing with more opportunities, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

Health remains the main question mark for the Ravens defense. If everyone can get healthy and stay healthy, Baltimore could be primed for a defensive revival in 2022.

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