The Ravens were reported to be “keeping tabs” on the market for Van Noy when he was last a free agent in 2021, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, though Baltimore ultimately opted to re-sign Tyus Bowser on a team-friendly deal before adding Justin Houston during training camp.
But with Bowser recovering from a ruptured Achilles and Houston hitting free agency, the Ravens are once again in need of another outside linebacker.
While re-signing Houston is certainly an option – especially given his mentorship of standout rookie Odafe Oweh – the Ravens might prize Van Noy for his versatility. He can line up in multiple linebacker positions in Baltimore’s 3-4 defense, assuming it stays in place under new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.
The nine-year veteran has always been able to play the run and rush the passer but he also earned a career-high 84.7 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus over more than 300 coverage snaps in 2021. That led all NFL linebackers last season, while Patrick Queen had the league’s eighth-worst PFF coverage grade despite improvement against the run.
Van Noy could start opposite Oweh as an outside linebacker in Baltimore until Bowser is fully healthy. Once that happens, Macdonald will be able to move around his versatile outside linebackers to create mismatches with opposing blockers.
Van Noy Was Once ‘Perfect Match’ With Ravens
Van Noy has been linked with the Ravens in the past two offseasons, even being called a “perfect match” for Baltimore by PFF’s Ben Linsey in 2020.
Linsey, writing for ESPN, argued that Van Noy would fit the Ravens’ defensive scheme and position needs:
Two of the Ravens’ biggest needs this offseason are at edge defender and off-ball linebacker. As an off-ball linebacker/edge defender hybrid who transitioned to a primary edge role with the Patriots last season, Van Noy looks to be a perfect fit on the Baltimore defense, and he will come at a price well below the Jadeveon Clowneys and Yannick Ngakoues of the world. There is a bit of risk involved with Van Noy, given that his 84.2 overall grade in 2019 was easily a career high, but if he can turn in a similar performance in 2020, he’d add a much-needed spark off the edge for a Ravens team that relied heavily on the blitz to generate pressure last season.
Instead, the Ravens opted to place the franchise tag on Matt Judon, a decision that paid off with his second Pro Bowl season before he joined Van Noy in New England the following year.
Van Noy Unlikely to Be a Priority
Both Pro Bowlers are rumored to be Baltimore’s marquee targets in free agency, though they’ll have to make some roster moves to free up enough cap space. Mathieu could command upwards of $15 million per year, while Jensen is likely to cost at least $10 million per year.
But if the Ravens can’t woo one of their top targets, they may turn to Van Noy as a proven veteran to bolster their defense.