Ravens Could Target Pro Bowl Pass Rushers After Major Injury to Veteran

Ravens Everson Griffen

Getty Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen celebrates a 2019 sack.

The Baltimore Ravens had their first season-ending injury just 10 days into training camp, with linebacker Vince Biegel tearing his Achilles on August 4.

Biegel was carted off the field towards the end of practice, with head coach John Harbaugh informing the media of the veteran’s injury, which will sideline him for the 2022 season.

The Ravens were already thin at outside linebacker and edge rusher even after re-signing Justin Houston, as both Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo are recovering from Achilles injuries of their own. While both players are expected to return at some point this season, the Ravens have very little depth behind Houston and second-year breakout candidate Odafe Oweh.

The Ravens reunited with veteran Steven Means in June and signed undrafted rookies Chuck Wiley and Jeremiah Moon to fill out their outside linebacker room alongside 2021 fifth-rounder Daelin Hayes.

But none have emerged as a clear third edge rusher or next man up behind Oweh and Houston, the latter of whom is entering his 12th NFL season at 33 years old. As a result, the Ravens will be looking for more depth at the position to take on reps in the preseason and potentially early in the regular season before Bowser and Ojabo make their debuts.

The Ravens officially placed Biegel on the injured reserve list on August 8, per the NFL’s official transaction report, the same day that they extended All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker. Though the exact year-by-year terms of Tucker’s contract have not been announced, Baltimore could free up nearly $2 million of salary cap space with the move. Combined with a recent restructure to Marlon Humphrey’s deal, that could be enough to sign one of the available veteran pass rushers, a few of whom even have a few Pro Bowls on their resumes.

Jason Pierre-Paul

The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer is the first name that comes to mind after what appeared to be a positive visit to Baltimore in June.

Pierre-Paul only had 2.5 sacks last season – partially due to a torn rotator cuff that he called “by far the worst” injury of his career – but recorded 30.5 sacks during his first three years in Tampa Bay.

He’ll need to prove his shoulder is fully-recovered – which might be the reason he’s still a free agent – but he could still contribute in a rotational pass-rushing role.

Dee Ford

After his release in July, the Ravens could explore signing veteran defensive end Dee Ford, an eight-year veteran with 40.0 career sacks. He reached a double-digit sack total in two of his five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, but struggled to stay healthy in San Francisco with just seven appearances in the past two years.

The one-time Pro Bowler could benefit from a change of scenery after playing just 378 snaps during his three seasons with the 49ers. He did manage a 19.6 pass rush win rate in 2019, per Pro Football Focus, but like Pierre-Paul, Ford would need to show that he’s back to 100% before the Ravens add him to the roster.

Trey Flowers

Trey Flowers is another reclamation project the Ravens could take on to add to their pass rush. After spending all but one game of his rookie season on the sidelines, Flowers emerged as a consistent pass-rushing threat for the New England Patriots with 21 sacks from 2016 to 2018. That earned him a five-year, $90 million contract from the Detroit Lions, for whom he recorded 7.0 sacks in 2019.

Injuries limited Flowers to just 3.5 sacks across 14 appearances in 2020 and 2021, leading to his release in March. But he did record at least 60 quarterback pressures in three straight seasons from 2017 to 2019, per PFF, and is still 28 years old. If Baltimore can recapture any of his previous form, he’d be an asset to their thin edge-rushing group.

Everson Griffen

If the Ravens are looking for the most consistent pass-rushing option available, they should look no further than Everson Griffen. The former Minnesota Viking recorded at least 5.0 sacks and 30 quarterback pressures every year since 2012, according to PFF, despite playing just nine games in 2021.

The 34-year-old defensive end may be beyond his days of playing on all three downs, but that wouldn’t be an issue in Baltimore. They have plenty of run-stuffing options along their defensive line, including rookie Travis Jones, the recently-resigned Michael Pierce and 2020 fifth-rounder Broderick Washington.

Instead, Griffen could focus on rushing the passer in high-leverage situations as he chases the first Super Bowl of his 12-year career.

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