The Baltimore Ravens should consider signing Cameron Wake:
Accomplished veteran Cameron Wake still sits on the free agent market as we inch our way closer to next week’s NFL Draft. At age 38, he’s not the premier free agent he would’ve been even three or four years ago. Even with that being said, he’s a name that the Ravens should put under consideration for a contract.
When the legal tampering period opened on March 16, it became clear very quickly that addressing the defensive line was the top priority this offseason for the Baltimore Ravens. The team moved quickly to tag Matthew Judon and acquire Calais Campbell from the Jaguars, and later agreed to a deal with Michael Brockers. While that deal later fell through, the team moved quickly and signed Derek Wolfe to a far more team-friendly deal that could end up being one of the steals of the offseason.
Even with the two major additions, the Ravens are still lacking an edge rusher to line up opposite of Judon. With minimal cap space to work with, it doesn’t appear a major acquisition will present itself in free agency, and Baltimore will presumably target an edge rusher at some point in the draft next week.
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The pass rushers in this draft class are considered underwhelming behind the top prospect, Chase Young. It looks like the Ravens could end up having to overpay for their man, or risk adding a non-impact player in the later rounds.
If there’s one thing the Ravens hate to do, it’s reach. Baltimore has always been considered one of the most disciplined organizations in the league when it comes to the draft; particularly in holding true to the “best player available” approach. With needs at edge, interior offensive line, and linebacker among other spots, Eric DeCosta and company seemingly have their hands tied at least somewhat when it comes to sticking to “best player available.”
The good news for the Ravens is that the draft class features an incredibly deep group of wide receivers, talented interior linemen that should be on the board in the middle rounds, and even some intriguing linebacker options that won’t require a first- or second-round pick. So there’s value to be had even as they address some needs. When it comes to edge rushers, however, things start to look uninspiring very quickly.
With that being said, sufficiently addressing the edge through the draft this year would seem to violate every conviction the Baltimore front office has when it comes to maximizing value. But perhaps there’s another route they can take?
Wake makes a world of sense for the Ravens to bring into the pass-rushing mix.
At this point in his career, he’s certainly not the dominant force he was in his prime for the Miami Dolphins, but he showed that there’s still some tread on the tires in his 2.5-sack Week one performance against the Browns last year with Tennessee. Injuries limited Wake to just nine games in 2019, and the Titans opted to part ways with Wake this offseason to create more cap space.
At his age, Wake certainly wouldn’t be a full-time starter with Baltimore, but he would provide Don Martindale with a situational pass rusher that could provide high-level part-time production, while also serving as a mentor for Jaylon Ferguson and any other young pass rushers.
Since Wake obviously wouldn’t be a long-term solution (and Judon is currently playing on the one-year franchise tag contract), Baltimore would likely still be in the hunt for an edge in the draft. With Wake in the fold to pair with Ferguson and Tyus Bowser, the front office will be able to let the board fall to them more organically and look for mid-to-late round pieces that can take a year to develop, rather than reaching for immediate contributors. In the meantime, having Ferguson, Bowser, and perhaps a new rookie in the rotation would help Wake to stay fresh, maximizing his production.
Having not played his first NFL season until age 27, Wake is a relatively young 38, and could have sights on cracking into the Top 25 in career sacks (he currently sits 5.5 sacks from tying Trace Armstrong and Von Miller (active) on that list). A Beltsville, Maryland native with no Super Bowl rings to his credit, Wake would have an opportunity to come back home, move his way up the history books, and join a Ravens team that is very much in the mix for a Lombardi Trophy in 2020.