With the exception of Lardarius Webb, the entire starting defense returns for the Ravens this season. A unit that was stout under Dean Pees has tall expectations for new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. C.J. Mosley commands the middle of the defense at inside linebacker but his counterpart is a hole the Ravens have yet to fill. Patrick Unwuasor started 13 games opposite of Mosley last season but his starting role isn’t guaranteed. The rest of the pack is relatively unproven, making the possibility of adding a veteran free agent possible.
NaVorro Bowman was the heart and soul of the 49ers’ defense during their heyday under Jim Harbaugh before tearing his ACL and MCL during the 2014 season. He returned from a potentially career-ending injury and played at an All-Pro level in 2015. Bowman split time between the 49ers and Raiders last season and provided consistency for Jack Del Rio‘s linebacker core, finishing with 127 total tackles.
The Ravens have followed this formula before and it’s brought about success. Veteran Daryl Smith spent three seasons in Baltimore from 2013-2015, starting all 16 games alongside Mosley. This isn’t a long-term solution but in a win-now mode with a defense on the verge of reaching elite status, it may be worth banking on veteran talent rather than potential.