The Baltimore Ravens are building a monster. Free agency has lifted them in a big way:
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The Baltimore Ravens have reportedly agreed to terms with Za’Darius Smith. This may be the best move in all of NFL Free Agency. The Ravens are getting a top-level pass rusher, the one that should have never gotten away. According to reports, it’s a four-year deal for $35 million. That’s a great deal for a player who had 12.5 sacks in 2020 and has recovered from the injury that took him out of all but one game in 2021.
Smith was an absolute hit for the Green Bay Packers. In his first season with the Packers, Smith had 13.5 sacks. It was the breakout season his play hinted at in the last year of his rookie contract with the Ravens. Even after an injury took him last season, Smith is still in the prime years of his career. The Ravens are in the rare situation where they get to invest in ascending homegrown talent while also giving that homegrown talent a second stint with the organization.
This is the best part of free agency for the Ravens, but they’ve had some certified master moves already this offseason. They reached a deal with Marcus Williams on the second day of NFL Free Agency. This gives them their starting free safety and should solidify the backend of the defense. Morgan Moses was another addition that filled a dire need for the purple and black. The Ravens basically got their replacement for Orlando Brown Jr. a year later. Moses is a huge offensive tackle that doesn’t give up a lot of pressure and fits into this offense.
The Ravens are a much better team than they were last season, already. Here are three big things to think about.
1. The value the Ravens got is hard to believe:
The Ravens’ deal with Morgan Moses is awesome. He doesn’t have a big cap hit at all on his three-year contract. He’s a starting tackle that didn’t break the bank. Za’Darius Smith was a lot cheaper than you’d think he’d be. Just look at the money that Chandler Jones got. Reports say that Jones got three years for $51 million from the Las Vegas Raiders. Baltimore gets Smith for a little under $9 million per season.
Smith’s injury and the fact that a reunion was so mutually beneficial obviously helped the Ravens get this deal. Smith didn’t get played, but you wonder if any other franchise could have made this deal with the Ravens. This has the potential to be one of the biggest signings in Ravens history. A combination of Za’Darius Smith and Odafe Oweh could bring an organic pass rush back to Baltimore. This is a position where a free agent of Smith’s caliber should cost more. The Ravens get to save at a premium position.
Marcus Williams got a big deal. The thing is he could have gotten more elsewhere. A five-year deal worth $70 million is very respectable for Williams. He gets most of his guaranteed money front-loaded into the deal. Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun tweeted that PFF and Spotrac.com expected these players to get more lucrative deals in free agency.
The Ravens' big three of free agency:
S Marcus Williams: 5 years, $70 million
OT Morgan Moses: 3 years, $15 million
OLB Za'Darius Smith: 4 years, $35 million
Annual average salaries all way less than what PFF or Spotrac projected.
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) March 16, 2022
That kind of says it all. The Ravens understood the assignment. Eric DeCosta managed to improve the team responsibly.
2. The 3 biggest needs for the Ravens have been addressed:
Baltimore had three problems that haunted them last season other than injuries. The Ravens gave up too many big plays down the field. They couldn’t get enough pass rush without blitzing, and the right tackle situation was deeply depressing. The Ravens just found three starters that improve the team in those specific areas.
Cole Jackson (From Two Guys Watching Football) tweeted this out about Moses. He’s one of the best and most consistent offensive line analysts in the Ravens Flock, and his opinion carries weight with me. Jackson’s take is that Moses is best described as steady. That’s the one thing the Ravens need at right tackle. I liked Moses coming out of Virginia, and he’s been good with Washington and the New York Jets. This looks like a win for the offensive line of the Ravens.
Best word to describe Morgan Moses is steady.
Durable, consistent, gives up about 35-40 pressures and 5 sacks every year.
That's a starting calibre RT. He'll do his job and do it well.#RavensFlock
— Cole Jackson (@ColeJacksonFB) March 16, 2022
The Ravens’ defense is starting to come together. When they get Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey back, it won’t take much for them to get the secondary humming along. Williams gives the Ravens the deep safety they didn’t have. This was one position they couldn’t trust to a rookie and they couldn’t stay put at. They needed a proficient middle-of-the-field safety. Williams has had at least two picks every year of his career and has a PFF score of 80.1.
Smith should give the Ravens a more natural pass rush. Pairing him with Oweh could be a deadly one-two punch. The secondary is close to being where it needs to be as the Ravens head into the draft. The pressure that Smith can provide should work harmoniously with that fact.
3. The Ravens have a lot more work in front of them this offseason:
The Ravens have made their big moves but they are not necessarily done. The only glaring need for the Ravens now is to figure out who’s playing at the center position. It’s important to remember that the Ravens have a lot of draft capital. They have 10 draft picks to work with. The Ravens can do just about anything they want with the 14th pick. They’ve put themselves in a situation where taking the best player available is completely acceptable. Sauce Gardner anyone?
The offseason is off to a thrilling start. The Ravens didn’t just sit here and say “All it takes is us getting healthy next year.” The Ravens made a statement. They’re trying to build a monster, and so far the purple and black are winning NFL Free Agency.