The Baltimore Ravens have agreed to terms with Kevin Zeitler in a move that will help the offensive line. The Ravens will leave the first day of the NFL Free Agency sprint with their starting right guard and that’s a big deal.
There are three main perks to this move. The first is that Zeitler doesn’t get to go back to the Cincinnati Bengals, the first team he played for in the NFL. The Bengals were reportedly one of the teams looking at him.
The Ravens got better while their division rival doesn’t. With a new franchise quarterback in Cincinnati in Joe Burrow, the Bengals have a chance to get right. A win over a division rival is always a good thing, yet look at what this really means. The Ravens got a highly coveted player and they did it swiftly.
The second benefit from this move is that the offensive line now has a leader of the pack at right guard. Marshal Yanda isn’t a replaceable player, though this is a much more honest attempt at filling his shoes than signing D.J. Fluker and drafting Tyre Phillps was.
Zeitler is the perfect free agent pick-up for a Greg Roman run offense. They need an enforcer at right guard in the run game. The Ravens need somebody who can move and be a bulldozer as he goes. They got that with this acquisition.
The third thing to marvel at is how easily the Ravens were able to fit things into the cap. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Joe Thuney got a five-year $80 million deal from the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Ravens got Zeitler wearing the Purple and Black for a three-year $22 million deal per Adam Schefter. The Ravens got the best deal, a veteran they can trust at the right price. That’s two AFC playoff teams striving to get better on the offensive line with the Ravens approaching it most practically.
Tom Pelliserro of NFL Network reports that Corey Linsley will be made the highest-paid center in the NFL. The Ravens shopped around and didn’t just buy the most expensive thing on the shelf.
This reminds me of the Ravens targeting Mark Ingram instead of Le’Veon Bell in 2019. It was a measured move that will get them exactly what they need.
So how does this move fair in the grade book?
The Ravens had to do something with the offensive line. Now they have a minimum of three strong starters protecting Lamar Jackson and setting up rushing lanes for J.K. Dobbins. The Ravens have Ronnie Stanley at left tackle. Bradley Bozeman is going to start, whether it be as the center or left guard is still to be decided. Zeitler is locked in at guard on the right.
Baltimore used their first move to secure help in a position of need. This move was a common-sense signing. The Ravens will maximize their greatest strength with the run game. They will protect Lamar Jackson better in the passing game.
The Bottom Line:
The Ravens still have a lot of work to do this offseason. That fact makes this agreed-upon contract even more impressive. The Ravens still have the cap space needed to attack other needs. Everything they want to get is available in free agency. This move signals more as a starting point than as one big move to sit on. Eric DeCosta is not done.
This move makes the Ravens better upfront. It allows them to keep shopping in NFL Free Agency, and it’s the best bang for their buck they were going to get. It’s hard not to like this move and with the right pickups to accompany Zeitler to Baltimore, it could look even better.