Ravens Sign Former Bears Starting O-Lineman for Depth

Ravens OL Sam Mustipher

Getty The Ravens upgraded at backup center with an experienced starter.

The Baltimore Ravens made their second post-draft veteran free agent addition on Monday, May 15, 2023, with the signing of former Chicago Bears center Sam Mustipher on a one-year deal to provide more depth to the interior of their offensive line.

The move was first reported by Pro Football Chase and later confirmed by the Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec before the team put out an official announcement.

Mustipher is a local product that grew up in Owing Mills, Maryland where the Ravens’ team facility is located. He comes back home and to the AFC North after spending the first four years of his career in the NFC North with the Bears after going undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2019. Over the past three seasons, he has started 40 of the 43 games he appeared in over that span that included all 17 games in 2021 and 16 of 17 last season according to Pro Football Reference.

He will serve as the primary backup to 2022 first-rounder Tyler Linderbaum after the Ravens lost Tystan Colon to the New York Jets in free agency. Linderbaum is coming off a standout rookie season where he established himself as one of the better players at the position in the league.

Adding Mustipher gives them an ungraded contingency plan with a wealth of starting experience. In a corresponding move, the team waived defensive back Thakarius Keyes who was a seventh-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 and was signed to Baltimore’s practice squad late last season.

Former Ravens 3-Time Pro Bowler Visits AFC Foe: Report

After sitting on the open market since the new league year began, veteran cornerback Marcus Peters had his first free-agent visit on the same day the team he spent the last three and a half seasons on as a starter added Mustipher according to a report from The Athletic’s Vic Tafur.

The 30-year-old reportedly visited the Las Vegas Raiders who were his hometown team before they relocated from Oakland. If signed, they’d be his fourth different team since he entered the league as a first-round pick by the Chiefs in 2015 out of the University of Washington.

Everywhere Peters has gone, he has produced and been an impactful presence on the field as well as in the locker room. He was most recently with the Ravens where he had been a staple in their secondary and team fabric since being acquired midway through the 2019 season.

Despite missing the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL, he still managed to record 99 total tackles, 25 pass deflections, eight interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, two sacks, and six forced fumbles in 37 games with the team per Pro Football Reference.

After the Ravens elected not to take a cornerback in the 2023 NFL Draft until the fifth round when they picked up former Stanford standout Kyu Blu Kelly, it was assumed that Peters was one of two veteran players at the position in strong consideration to be signed in the following week. However, the team opted to sign former Indianapolis Colts second-rounder Rock Ya-Sin who most recently played for the Raiders in 2022 to a one-year deal on May 3, 2023.

It appears the odds of a potential reunion between Peters and the Ravens are increasingly low but nothing can be ruled out until he officially signs elsewhere.

Ravens Have ‘No More Excuses’ on Offense in 2023

The team’s offense underwent a complete overhaul and makeover this offseason with the parting of ways with former offensive coordinator Greg Roman and hiring Todd Monken to replace him, revamping the wide receiver depth chart with three new first-round talents, and finally locking up quarterback Lamar Jackson to a record-setting extension.

Those moves show a clear desire to shift and evolve their approach on that side of the ball. According to Zrebiec, it also means they have “no more excuses” to not be one of the league’s best and most complete teams this upcoming season.

“A strong case could be made that this is the deepest and most talented group of targets the organization has had in years,” he wrote. “There’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t have a dynamic and balanced offense. There’s no reason Jackson shouldn’t have one of his best years — his 2019 MVP season is hard to top — and show significant improvement as a passer. There’s no reason why the Ravens shouldn’t boast a productive receiving group.”

With the addition of three-time Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr., fellow veteran former first-rounder Nelson Agholor, and rookie first-rounder Zay Flowers, the pressure on Monken to put together an explosive offense that will either hit the ground running or won’t take long to get going is definitely on.

“Roman did some good things in his four-year run as the team’s offensive coordinator, but the offense had clearly gone stale. A new offensive voice — and approach — felt long overdue when the Ravens and Roman parted ways and Monken was hired after a thorough search,” Zrebiec wrote. “But if Roman’s departure frees up Jackson and the rest of the offense from a football perspective, it also will undoubtedly open others up to blame if things aren’t going well. Roman, for the past two years, became a lightning rod for criticism with the finger-pointing, at least from the outside, zeroed in on him for his pass-game design and situational play calling.”

Now that Jackson has long-term financial security, it means he has more pressure to deliver than ever given the team’s investment in him and his improved weaponry at receiver.

“And nobody will shoulder as much as Jackson, the new owner of the richest contract in NFL history,” Zrebiec wrote. “Jackson is healthy again and no longer playing under the dark cloud of an uncertain future in Baltimore. The receiver group has improved significantly. A more balanced offense that can challenge every area of the field is being put in place.”

The team’s heavy investment on the offensive side of the ball this offseason caused them to say goodbye to defensive stalwarts like safety Chuck Clark who was traded to the Jets, six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell who was released and signed with the Atlanta Falcons, and potentially Peters if he winds up signing with the Raiders.

Nevertheless, the shift to prioritizing offense makes sense as the league and especially the AFC conference, in particular. The entire league appears to be engaged in an arms race to see who can load up with the most premium pass-catchers to provide assurances against injuries and make their passing attacks multidimensional and difficult to defend.

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