It wasn’t an especially noteworthy move, especially considering that it came the day before free agency officially kicked off.
The Zeitler signing undoubtedly flew under the radar. But when all is said and done, his addition has a chance to be the most impactful move the team made this offseason.
And that’s a sentiment shared by The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec as well. The Athletic’s staff writers recently detailed the best move made by every team this offseason and Zrebiec highlighted the Zeitler signing for the Ravens.
The Ravens bolstered their offensive line by signing Kevin Zeitler.
The Ravens were hit hard by the retirement of longtime right guard Marshal Yanda following the 2019 season. Rather than add a reliable veteran to replace him, they opted for a few unproven talents to hopefully replicate his production.
It didn’t go well.
Rookie Tyre Phillips won the starting job out of training camp but he was soon shifted over to right tackle where he split time with D.J. Fluker. Young guard Ben Powers stepped in and started down the stretch, but the results weren’t spectacular.
The Ravens knew that they needed to upgrade the interior offensive line in a big way this offseason. And they did so by signing Zeitler.
While Zeitler may not be the same dominant player he was during his days with the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, the AFC North veteran is still a rock-solid starter.
And most definitely an upgrade over the likes of Phillips and Powers.
The fact that the Ravens managed to get him at such a bargain too shouldn’t be overlooked. Zeitler signed for just three years, $22.5 million with a meager annual salary of $7.5 million.
This is despite the fact that he ranked in the top-12 guards in the NFL every year (except one) from 2014 to 2019, per Pro Football Focus. And even last season, his PFF grade of 65.9 was still good for the 32nd best guard in football.
And remember, that was as part of a horrendous New York Giants offensive line. It’s safe to say he wasn’t aided by his supporting cast.
Kevin Zeitler has a chance to be a real difference-maker for the Ravens in 2021. He may not be Marshal Yanda, but he’s certainly an improvement over last year.