2. Josh Bynes
The unsung hero of the Ravens’ defense returns in 2022: linebacker Josh Bynes signed a one-year deal with Baltimore that will prolong his third stint with the team. This bodes great news for Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, and the rest of the Ravens’ inside linebacker unit who greatly benefitted from Bynes joining the group last season.
After 2022, though, the training wheels must come off, and it’s time to see how good this young and hungry Ravens’ linebacker corps really is.
In 2021, Bynes started 12 of 14 games and recorded 76 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, and four passes defended, not to mention he finished as Pro Football Focus‘ 11th-highest-graded linebacker in the entire NFL. Not bad for a 32-year-old.
Bynes’ veteran presence buoyed Patrick Queen’s performance last year, as the tandem boosted Queen’s tackling rate and pass coverage in the midfield. The 2020 first-rounder has yet to prove he’s not a total draft bust, and after two shy years in the league, it’s now or never for Queen.
By the end of the 2022 season, one of two outcomes will come true: Queen will have played his way to a consistent starting role, no longer needing Bynes as his crutch, or Queen will have underperformed again and the team will be forced to look for more reliable long-term reinforcements.
Either way, Bynes should be out of the picture and may choose to retire after 11-going-on-12 solid NFL campaigns. Bynes remains one of the most underrated defenders money can buy, but the Ravens need to learn how to win without him.