On Monday, January 16, 2023, the day following the end of their 2022 season in gut-wrenching fashion with a 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Baltimore Ravens made their first handful of moves of the offseason by signing six players to reserve/futures deals.
The full list of players is listed alphabetically below:
- WR Shemar Bridges
- DB Bopete Keyes
- LB Jeremiah Moon
- DT Rayshad Nichols
- G John Simpson
- WR Mike Thomas
All six were on the team’s practice squad but Nichols was the only one in the bunch that saw any action for the Ravens in the regular season. He was elevated for one game in Week 17 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and recorded 4 total tackles including 1 solo in just 15 defensive snaps.
Bridges and Moon are also undrafted rookies that originally signed with the team following the 2022 NFL Draft. Bridges was a preseason and training camp darling that many fans were excited about after seeing the flashes he showed in exhibition games.
Thomas and Simpson both played in multiple games for different teams to start the year before joining the Ravens in December of 2022. Thomas made 2 starts in 10 games with the Bengals before he was waived and Simpson did the same with the Las Vegas Raiders in 11 games prior to getting released.
Ravens Pending Free Agents
According to the Baltimore Beatdown’s Kyle Barber, the team has 13 players slated to hit free agency with a pair of restricted free agents that they can place tenders on.
Of course, the most notable name on the list is franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson who just played in the final year of his rookie contract but he is expected to be either extended or designated with the franchise tag this offseason.
The players they will likely attempt to re-sign at the right price include starting left guard Ben Powers, outside linebacker Justin Houston who led the team with 9.5 sacks, three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, and cornerback Daryl Worley for the veteran minimum to start building up familiar depth for Organized Team Activities.
As far as players they will most likely let walk or at least test the free agency waters before making an attempt to resign them, the list includes running backs Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and tight end Josh Oliver since they will want to get Charlie Kolar on the field more in 2023, and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul given all of their young talents on the edge.
The two restricted free agents are quarterback Tyler Huntley and safety Geno Stone. Both of the third-year pros are expected to be tenders after they more than admirably stepped up and started several games in place of star players at their respective positions.
For Huntley, it was the five of the team’s last six games in place of Jackson including their Wildcard loss in the playoffs. For Stone, it was seven games in place of ball-hawking free safety Marcus Williams while he was on injured reserve recovering from a dislocated wrist.
Ravens 1st Rounder Capped Off Rookie Season With Monster Performance v. Bengals
While the end result of Sunday’s game was disappointing, to say the least, the team can take some solace in how well their defense played from start to finish and one of its brightest standouts was first-round safety, Kyle Hamilton.
The dynamic and versatile defensive back saved his best outing for last with the way he played lights out and with tremendous physicality. He finished as the team’s leading tackler with 9 in total and was the highest-graded player for the Ravens in the entire game with an overall of 90.8 from Pro Football Focus.
His best and most clutch play came in the second quarter when came crashing downhill and absolutely blasted Bengals tight end and former Ravens first-round pick in 2018, Hayden Hurst, after making a catch on a third-and-long from the Cincinnati 44-yard line. Not only did the crushing blow stop Hurst dead in his tracks but it also dislodged the ball for a forced fumble that Hamilton would fall on to recover himself.
After a bit of a rough start to the season, his role and playing time began to expand and increase as the year went on as defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald kept looking and experimenting with different ways to deploy him.
“I think it’s just repetitions and just confidence and settling in,” Hamilton said in his season-ending press conference. “We’re at the highest level in our profession and being a new guy – I’m basically the youngest guy on the team – it took a little while to just kind of settle in and remember who I am and what I can do out there. And I think once I figured that out, guys on the team, coaches, everybody just staying confident in me and instilling confidence in me on a weekly basis just helped me out a lot.”
Finally, he settled into more of a slot defender/matchup chess piece down the stretch that would be sent blitzing or crashing off the edge to generate pressure and chase running plays down from behind.
Hamilton believes that he landed with the best team, scheme, and coaching staff to help him reach his full potential and maximize his impact on the field.
“I think I came into the perfect situation,” he said. “Staff, players, personnel – everybody has just been amazing to me this year, and I’m really thankful for the whole organization.”