Ravens can still win free agency by signing 49ers’ pass-rusher Arden Key

Ravens, Arden Key (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ravens, Arden Key (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Za’Darius Smith snub left a bitter taste in the Baltimore Ravens‘ mouth, but the team can quickly rebound and sign a bargain free agent in Arden Key.

The San Francisco 49ers pass-rusher remains one of the best value signings at his position and has reported interest in several teams including the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions.

Key recently made the trek to meet Eric DeCosta in Baltimore, though, and if he lands with the Ravens, his addition would give the team a much-needed edge in free agency.

Key doesn’t have the same resume that Smith had, but at this point, comparing any free agent pass-rusher to the former Ravens outside linebacker will lead to disappointment.

Baltimore should accept Key for who he is: a bargain signing who amounts to a rotational and potentially starting-caliber edge rusher.

The Ravens can rebound by signing free-agent pass-rusher Arden Key

A third-round draft pick by the Raiders in 2018, Key admittedly did not perform well with the Silver and Black and got a second chance in San Francisco this past season.

In 2021, Key played in 17 games and logged 6.5 sacks along with 22 tackles and 19 quarterback pressures. Key could hardly be called a full-time starter, given that he played just 35 percent of defensive snaps, but his jump in efficiency on the 49ers suggests his ceiling may be higher than one may think.

Pro Football Focus projected Key to command a two-year, $12.5 million dollar deal which is more than reasonable for a relatively young pass-rusher like him.

As a low-risk and low-reward deal, Key wouldn’t exactly fill the veteran outside linebacker role to help lead Ravens’ defense alongside Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh, but at the very least he offers a quality reinforcement in a thinning free-agent market.

Come April, the Ravens will want to have as much flexibility as possible with their No. 14 pick, and picking up a pass-rusher now will allow them to do just that.

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At 25-years-old, Arden Key could serve as a moldable piece on the edge and make a sizeable impact in Mike Macdonald’s new-look defense for 2022. He may not turn many heads, but he’s a very logical deal for Baltimore that may pay big dividends in the future.