Ryan Jensen is undoubtedly the Ravens’ top free agent this offseason but his cost may be too much to come back to Baltimore.
The Baltimore Ravens took care of business last week re-signing defensive end Brent Urban to a one-year deal. Center Ryan Jensen is expected to be the team’s next priority. Jensen started all 16 games last season on an offensive line decimated with injuries. He was the driving force up front and finished as one of the top performing offensive linemen in 2017.
From a primary backup to bonafide starter, Jensen has become not only a top target in Baltimore but around the entire league. The Ravens weren’t justified to tag Jensen for $14M but no further contract negotiations have been reported. As Monday’s tampering period gets closer, re-signing Jensen seems more like a pipe dream.
With an estimated $4.9M in cap space heading into free agency, the Ravens don’t have much wiggle room. Couple that with Albert Breer’s latest report and things don’t bode well for a return.
Breer reported that Jensen could become the NFL’s highest-paid center this offseason.
$10M+ a year just isn’t a number the Ravens can handle. Their cap space and needs don’t warrant that kind of contract extension.
The NFL offseason is dominated by money and it’s a department the Ravens aren’t strong in at this point. Restructuring contracts and cutting players will free some cap room but not likely enough to re-sign Jensen. If Ozzie Newsome didn’t want to make Jarvis Landry one of the league’s highest-paid receivers, I can’t see him doing the same with Jensen.
Spotrac’s market value of $8.9M annual seems like a more reasonable number but that’s still on the expensive side for the Ravens. The front office has a track record of letting high-profile free agents walk. It’s happened the past two offseasons with Kelechi Osemele and Rick Wagner. When it came down to money, the Ravens couldn’t win the bidding war.
The bottom line
If the Ravens can’t re-sign Jensen, what’s not to say they can’t replace him? It was Jensen himself that took over for Jeremy Zuttah and eventually John Urschel last offseason. Matt Skura and Alex Lewis can provide potential in-house replacements. The draft always provides plenty of opportunities to acquire younger and cheaper talent.
Unlike wide receiver, the Ravens have a track record of finding the next man up on the offensive line. Fans should be confident the team can do the same if Jensen heads elsewhere this offseason.