The Baltimore Ravens weren’t going all-in on NFL Free Agency this offseason. Eric DeCosta is clearly trying to be competitive for next season. He’s also trying not to sell the farm for one Super Bowl ring during Lamar Jackson‘s rookie contract.
A large portion of the fanbase wanted the Ravens to drop 18-20 million dollars per season in a player like Kenny Golladay. It’s hard to blame somebody for this kind of thinking. Who doesn’t;t want Golladay on their roster?
If the Ravens were desperate they would make that move. They’d attack need beyond their means and they’d reach for depth chart luxury wherever they could get it. The Ravens aren’t desperate. They don’t believe that they have to win a Super Bowl in Jackson’s rookie contract or it’s all over.
The Ravens made a series of practical moves in free agency. They re-signed Tyus Bowser, Derek Wolfe, and L.J. Fort. These are players that will help sustain what already works for Don Martindale’s defense. They added Kevin Zeitler to the offensive line and they brought in Sammy Watkins.
People seem to forget that the Ravens went 11-5 last season and have been a playoff team ever since Jackson took the quarterback spot. The Ravens know as long as they keep their core players together they’re fighting for a playoff spot and a chance to get hot at the right moment to win it all.
It took Joe Flacco’s Ravens five straight trips to the playoffs to win the Super Bowl. After that, the Ravens kind of fell apart. They won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season but missed the playoffs in 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2017. That was a brutally frustrating time in Baltimore sports history.
DeCosta has locked up long-term deals with Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey. He got a deal done with Marcus Peters that has him here for a while. The 2019 NFL MVP is the next player he has to get a deal done with. Mark Andrews is on that list as well.
The salary cap is always going to make DeCosta have some tough decisions to make. The plan is obviously not to put all of the eggs into the 2021 basket. The plan is to avoid another frustrating slump as the joy of another Super Bowl win begins to fade.
The Ravens have gotten a lot from the draft since Ozzie Newsome’s last draft and DeCosta took over. Another strong draft could keep Baltimore right in the pack of contenders for the Lombardi trophy. Another wave of players the Ravens have for four to five years on affordable contracts continues to keep the window open.
The salary cap wasn’t as high as anybody hoped it would be. The Ravens weren’t going to go crazy with contracts. If the Ravens end up signing Jackson and Andrews to long-term contracts it’s worth it. If the Ravens keep the core together and a few young Ravens step into that essential group of players, the Ravens are contenders for an era not just Jackson’s rookie deal.
What if Marquise Brown and Devin Duvernay both have a breakout season? What if Tyus Bowser and a pass rusher to be drafted later this month become the needed pass rush? The Ravens don’t have to have a lot happen to go from a good team to the scariest force in the National Football League.
It all revolves around the fact that Jackson is always going to give Baltimore a chance. So this entire plan is built on the belief that Jackson will be a Super Bowl MVP one day.
This plan is built around the idea that the Ravens just have to figure out how to win that first one with Jackson and they know they’ll have a shot to do it again. Keeping the band together is a good idea.
The Bottom Line:
The Ravens obviously are a team with some needs. The point is that there is a plan and it isn’t just for the 2021 season. The Ravens have to be ready to live in a world where Jackson makes over $40 million per season. Winning a Super Bowl can’t be the end game. The Ravens want multiple rings.
It took Flacco’s crew five years to get it done. Jackson will keep giving the Ravens a chance to breakthrough. Once he does the Ravens have to be prepared to keep going for it. The Ravens have won two Super Bowls. Both of them are special forever. The joyful exuberance wears off though and you’re eventually going to want another chance to win it all.