While no team’s final roster is set or finished in late May or early June and there is still some quality talent to be had on the free-agent market, teams are still being praised for the work they’ve done to improve their rosters thus far this offseason.
After remodeling their entire wide receiver room with three former first-rounders, making sure their MVP-winning quarterback didn’t go anywhere, and having another impressive draft class, the Baltimore Ravens were listed among the top 10 most improved rosters by NFL.com’s Marc Sessler.
“Long known for their rough-and-tumble defense, this year’s Ravens squad arrives as an amped-up offering on offense thanks to the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Zay Flowers,” he wrote. “With his contractual drama in the rearview mirror, Lamar Jackson — armed with a new play-caller in Todd Monken — has plenty of weapons in a post-Greg Roman universe. Throwing for 6,000 yards is lunacy, but there’s no excuse for Lamar not to shine.”
The AFC North was the most represented division Sessler’s list as all four teams made the cut. He views the Pittsburgh Steelers as an “under-the-radar heavy in the AFC” after they fortified their offensive line and secondary via the draft and free agency.
He praised the Cincinnati Bengals for their addition of former Ravens Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and the Cleveland Browns for their work revamping and strengthening their defensive line and wide receiver depth charts via trade, free agency, and the draft.
Ravens Named Among Most Complete Rosters
Last week, Sessler’s NFL.com colleague Eric Edholm ranked the Ravens seventh among the most complete rosters in the league for their efforts and additions this offseason. He also cited the upgrades that general manager Eric DeCosta and Co. made to improve their pass-catching corps as the biggest reason for optimism ahead of the 2023 season.
“Jackson and a reimagined receiver room, along with a new offensive coordinator, could help return the Ravens to prominence on that side of the ball,” Edholm wrote. “If the three biggest new additions at wideout (OBJ, Zay Flowers and Nelson Agholor) or the healthy return of Rashod Bateman don’t help things, then we’re fresh out of solutions there.”
He believes that the Ravens “could use more insurance at running back” given the recent injury woes of returners J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill who all missed the 2021 season with injuries and sat out games for stretches last season as well due to low extremity injuries and setbacks.
On the defensive side of the ball, Edholm believes that the Ravens “still might have a few boxes to check”. Even though they signed veteran corner Rock Ya-Sin following the draft, that position could still be their biggest remaining need in his eyes.
“There’s Marlon Humphrey and a lot of question marks,” he wrote. “Who is the other outside starter? Who is the slot? Signing Rock Ya-Sin helps, and the Ravens could always bring back Marcus Peters or Kyle Fuller, but more is needed, I believe.”
Edholm also thinks “they could be set” on the interior of their defensive line with Justin Madubuike, Broderick Washington, Michael Pierce, and Travis Jones but could benefit from adding one more veteran to the mix. That’s exactly what they did a few days later with the signing of eight-year veteran defensive tackle Angelo Blackson who previously played with defensive captain Roquan Smith and was coached by defensive line coach Anthony Weaver at previous stops in his career.
“Off the edge, there’s still hope of either Odafe Oweh or David Ojabo (or both) emerging alongside Tyus Bowser, but perhaps they will be open to a Justin Houston type of addition before camp,” Edholm wrote.
Just before or at the onset of training camp is around the time that the Ravens have signed or brought back Houston in each of the last two seasons and this could very well be the case again this year. However, unlike the last two instances, the four-time Pro Bowler is coming off a resurgent season where he led the team in sacks and just missed out on reaching double-digits with 9.5 in 14 games in 2022 according to Pro Football Reference.
Ravens Listed Among Top ‘Landing Spots’ for 5-Time Pro Bowler
Even though they’ve already revamped their depth chart at wide receiver, after the news broke that the Arizona Cardinals were releasing veteran wideout, DeAndre Hopkins, NFL.com’s Nick Shook still put them on his list of top landing spots for the three-time First-Team All-Pro.
“Oddly enough, for the first time in recent memory, Baltimore appears to be pretty well stocked at the position,” he wrote. “Bringing Hopkins into that room might make it feel a little cramped, especially with pass-catching weapons Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely at tight end. But again, it’s not just any old veteran looking for another contract — it’s a three-time first-team All-Pro.
The soon-to-be 31-year-old that can still be a difference maker has been linked to the Ravens for a long time dating back to when he was first being shopped around by the Houston Texans in 2020. Even though he missed six games due to a suspension last season, Hopkins still finished 64 receptions on 96 targets for 717 receiving yards and three touchdowns in nine games per Pro Football Reference.
Shook believes that “it’s worth considering” because Hopkins himself said that it would “be an honor” to play with Jackson earlier in the week he got released on the I AM ATHLETE podcast and given the new direction and philosophy that the team is adopting on the offensive side of the ball.
“Whether Hopkins can be that type of player again remains to be seen,” he wrote. “But he likes the idea of playing with Jackson, and Baltimore is supposedly opening up its offense under new coordinator Todd Monken.”