The Baltimore Ravens come into every offseason with a concrete plan, and once again in 2021, the team managed to execute it well.
One of the big goals of the Ravens was to find a veteran offensive lineman to add to the mix for depth’s sake to help turn over a new leaf up front, and the team did that by signing veteran offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler. The move happened before free agency even opened thanks to the fact Zeitler was released early, and the team capitalized.
The latest Ravens news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Ravens newsletter here!
Now, the Ravens are being cheered for Zeitler’s contract. Pro Football Focus writer Brad Spielberger took a look at the best and worst NFL contracts for every AFC team in a June 15 roundup, and Zeitler’s was the pick (in a positive way) thanks to the quality and production he brings for a lower cost to the team.
Baltimore has become known for moves like the Zeitler signing. The Ravens smartly added a quality offensive lineman who did not count against them in the compensatory pick equation following his release by the New York Giants. Zeitler’s 72.4 grade over the 2019-20 seasons ranked 16th among all guards with at least 300 total snaps. While his above-average play didn’t justify being one of the highest-paid guards in the NFL for the Giants, it’s certainly worth $7.5 million per year over three years.
Indeed, getting Zeitler for $7.5 million for three years was an eye-opener of a move for the Ravens, and he can be a solid starting option up front in order to bridge the gap and keep Baltimore’s recent historical dominance going in the trenches. It’s true he could be one of the best values in the game heading into the 2021 regular season.
Zeitler Signing Named Top NFL Move
The Ravens have managed to bring back some of their key players on defense this offseason, but one of the biggest additions to the team’s offense comes in the form of Zeitler.
NFL.com’s Marc Sessler broke down the biggest offseason moves in the AFC North in an April post-free agency roster reset piece, and he also liked the move.
The Ravens desperately needed help up front and found it in the form of Zeitler. The veteran guard was cast off by the Giants, but remains a sturdy interior presence and plus pass protector with only one missed start since 2014. His 65.9 grade from Pro Football Focus last season was a career low, but he should bounce back in Baltimore’s run-heavy, mauling ground attack.
If there was a problem with the Ravens last season outside of the team’s struggles generating a consistent passing attack, it was protection in front of quarterback Lamar Jackson. A veteran was needed, and someone like Zeitler can bring some stability to this group over the next few seasons.
While the Ravens did sign former Kansas City Chiefs wideout Sammy Watkins, Zeitler might quietly be a much more important addition for the roster in the long run.
Zeitler Brings Familiairity of AFC North Landscape
Zeitler, 31, knows the division well after starting his career with the rival Cincinnati Bengals as a first-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2012. From there, Zeitler went on to the Cleveland Browns from 2017 to 2018 before landing with the New York Giants in 2019 and 2020. Zeitler has played in 135 games (134 starts) and has been a durable veteran player over his nine NFL seasons. Though he’s never made a Pro Bowl or been named an All-Pro selection, Zeitler made the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team in 2012, speaking to his overall talent.
In Baltimore, Zeitler will be counted on to give the team a reliable player at guard to help steady the ship for the future. For the price the team paid, it looks like a good move for the Ravens according to plenty of folks.
READ NEXT: Could Ravens Sign Todd Gurley Soon?