The Baltimore Ravens have been quiet on the free agency front during the legal tampering period. They still have yet to make a move or even been rumored to be actively pursuing another team’s pending unrestricted free agent while they’ve seen two of theirs agree to terms elsewhere in offensive guard Ben Powers and tight end Josh Oliver.
Prior to Tuesday, March 14, 2023, the only moves they had made were to release a six-time Pro Bowl defender and restructure three contracts, and trade away safety Chuck Clark in an effort to become cap compliant ahead of the March 15 deadline.
According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the team’s first move on the eve of the start of the new league year is re-signing cornerback Trayvon Mullen. The former second-round pick of the Las Vegas Raiders and first cousin of franchise-tagged quarterback Lamar Jackson is remaining with the team on a one-year deal.
The Ravens first brought Mullen on the team via a waiver claim on January 23, 2023, after he was let go by the Dallas Cowboys who were his third team in two years. In his first four years in the league, Mullen has started 31 of his 46 career games and has recorded 150 total tackles, 29 pass deflections, 4 interceptions, and a forced fumble per Pro Football Reference.
Given their need at cornerback behind and potentially opposite of three-time Pro Bowler Marlon Humphrey, holding onto a talented young inexpensive option with upside and familial ties to their star quarterback makes sense for all parties involved.
Recently Released Ex-Raven ‘Ready to Dominate’ Elsewhere
One of the toughest decisions the team had to make in order to get under the salary cap after using the exclusive franchise tag on Jackson was releasing veteran defensive end Calais Campbell on March 13.
While the general manager Eric DeCosta didn’t rule out a potential return at some point in the statement he released following the news of his release, the future Hall of Famer doesn’t sound like he’s willing to wait around for the front office to figure things out and possibly bring him back if they can afford it.
In a text he sent to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, he expressed his gratefulness and joy for the time he spent with the Ravens but is ready to continue his playing career and pursuit of a championship elsewhere.
“I love Baltimore, but everything happens for a reason. I am going to be ready to dominate for someone next season. Some team is gonna get a beast out there,” Campbell wrote.
In his three seasons with the team, the six-time Pro Bowler started 40 of the 41 games he appeared in and recorded 113 total tackles including 14 for a loss, 11 sacks, 36 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, and 9 pass deflections according to Pro Football Reference.
The Ravens’ defensive line is still a talented unit as it currently stands but only three of their six defensive linemen on the roster are signed beyond the 2023 season and there are no household names although a couple of them have the potential to be in short order.
Veteran Brent Urban was re-signed on February 15, 2023, and both Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington will be playing in the final year of the rookie contracts this fall. Whether Campbell is brought back or not, the Ravens will likely need to address their defensive trenches at some point this offseason either through the draft or with an affordable veteran.
Ravens Should Target Potential Cap Cut From Jets
The veteran free agent market began to heat up on the second day of the legal tampering period after hardly any movement on the first with the agreeing to terms of Jakobi Meyers with the Las Vegas Raiders and Allen Lazard with the New York Jets.
While both players were linked to the Ravens at times leading up to the start of free agency, the latter could result in another veteran at the position becoming available as a salary cap casualty. According to Jason Fitzgerald of overthecap.com, the Jets who are reportedly finalizing a deal to sign Lazard to a four-year contract worth $44 million could save $10.5 million by cutting veteran wideout Corey Davis.
The former top 10 pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2017 signed a three-year deal worth $37.5 million with Gang Green during the 2021 offseason. While he hasn’t exactly lived up to the sizeable contract with just 66 receptions for 1,028 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in 22 games per PFR, he has still been a solid, useful, and sometimes even explosive player when he’s been on the field.
If he were to be released, not only would he be a low-risk-high-reward target for the Ravens to address their top position of need this offseason, he wouldn’t count against the compensatory formula and would provide Jackson with a 28-year-old big-bodied target on the outside with plenty of upside.