Ravens: 4 free agents the team could sign before Week 1

Ravens, Duke Johnson Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Ravens, Duke Johnson Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ravens, Benardrick McKinney Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Ravens target: Benardrick McKinney

The loss of linebacker L.J. Fort for the season has been somewhat overshadowed by the season-ending injury to J.K. Dobbins. That said, it’s not an injury that should be overlooked.

Fort was a core special teamer and a reliable contributor on defense as a veteran linebacker who played quite a bit last season. In his absence, the Ravens will turn to 2020 third-round pick Malik Harrison who split time with Fort down the stretch last year.

Harrison joins Patrick Queen in a young, exciting, but ultimately unproven linebacker corps. That’s why signing a veteran like Benardrick McKinney could prove to be invaluable for a veteran-heavy Ravens front-seven.

McKinney spent the last six years of his career with the Houston Texans even making the Pro Bowl following a stellar 2018 season.

He hasn’t quite matched the production of that season when he finished as PFF’s ninth-highest-graded linebacker. That said, he remains a rock-solid veteran linebacker.

His release earlier in the week came as a surprise and he likely won’t be out of work for long. If the Ravens are smart, they’ll make an attempt to sign him.

McKinney would likely take the roster spot of Kristian Welch who could ideally be moved down to the practice squad. Meanwhile, he’d fill the role that Fort would have and take some of the pressure off the team’s young linebackers, Harrison in particular.

The Ravens could use a veteran linebacker to fill Fort’s void and McKinney is easily the best available option on the market.