Ravens’ inside linebacker room is running on fumes
The Baltimore Ravens should add inside linebacker to their list of needs ahead of the 2022 season, though their chances of landing a quality starter in free agency are slim.
Special teams regular and reserve linebacker Chris Board recently signed a deal with the Detroit Lions in free agency, and his departure deals a tough blow to the Ravens’ roster depth.
In his four years at Baltimore, Board mostly contributed on special teams and in situational defensive scenarios, and he likely wouldn’t have competed for a starting linebacker spot in 2022.
Still, losing Board means the team has just three young players under contract at the position: Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, and Kristian Welch.
Not one of those linebackers provides consistent production in the interior defense, and for the remainder of free agency and the draft, the Ravens should consider upgrading that unit while they have the time and money.
The Ravens need veteran reinforcements at linebacker
Admittedly, other areas, like the pass rush, need arguably more attention this offseason, but if the value is right for a free agent inside linebacker, Baltimore should absolutely make a move.
At the time of this writing, former Ravens Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort are unsigned free agents and could serve as low-risk signings to plug some of the holes in the linebacker unit.
If the Ravens want to elevate their interior defense, though, they may have to splurge a little more, perhaps pursuing Seattle Seahawks star Bobby Wagner, who would be a dream addition to the defense.
New Orleans Saints’ Kwon Alexander also poses as an interesting starting-caliber option, and at 27-years-old he’s one of the younger free agents out there, too.
Alexander and recently-signed safety Marcus Williams spent time together in New Orleans, so Alexander may be a particularly good signing for Baltimore to increase team chemistry and morale.
In an ideal world, Patrick Queen would have improved his play enough to lead the inside linebacker unit in 2022, but given his inconsistent performances over the last two years, Queen still needs a veteran presence to share the reins and help in both coverage and run defense.
Missed tackles were a painful problem for the team last season, and even if the Ravens re-signed veterans Bynes and Fort, the interior defense may not experience much of a boost in efficiency or production.
While the inside linebacker room doesn’t seem to be the team’s biggest priority right now, the Ravens would do well to keep their options open in free agency.
Should someone like future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner come knocking at their door, one would be foolish not to invite him in.