On March 14th, the Pittsburgh Steelers extended defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi for three more years.
On March 17th, the Cincinnati Bengals signed offensive tackle Orlando Brown.
And on May 12th the Cleveland Browns traded a 2024 and 2025 5th-round pick for outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith and a 2025 6th and 7th-round pick.
The Baltimore Ravens franchise and fanbase understand the impact these players can have on a game, and thus have a newfound resentment for being a part of those teams.
The AFC North's Offseason Is Cause For Introspection For The Baltimore Ravens
Smith has consistently been a top pass rusher in the NFL for years, scoring 22.5 sacks in his last two full seasons. He now joins perennial superstar outside linebacker Myles Garrett, who has haunted the dreams of Ravens fans for the past half-decade.
Brown has reached the Pro Bowl every year of his career outside of his rookie season and helped the Kansas City Chiefs in their 2023 Super Bowl victory. In addition, if you watched him play in Baltimore you know how he can put defenders in solitary confinement.
Lastly, Ogunjobi has locked down the run in Cleveland for years and has begun to do the same for Pittsburgh as of 2022.
For all these reasons, we need to take a look internally and see where we stand in the areas that the rest of the AFC North improved upon drastically.
The Offensive Line: Combating the Giants
These transactions, especially the trading of Smith, reinforce the importance of Left Tackle Ronnie Stanley's return to the Ravens. He has been an anchor when healthy, but staying on the field has been difficult for him as of late.
We can only hope the new faces in the training staff can help Stanley get close to 100%, and if he can't, then Patrick Mekari will have to hold down the fort.
In my opinion, Mekari has done as well as anyone could have asked for backing up Stanley. He shifted around a lot and usually found success wherever he ended up. However, relying on a backup plan never bodes well.
On the other side of the offensive line is Morgan Moses. When tasked with switching over to left tackle, he seemed to struggle to pick up the slack. But on the right where he's more comfortable, he shined.
I believe if both Moses and Stanley are healthy, this offensive line stands a chance. But if there's one thing you can count on during an NFL season, it's injuries.
The Defensive Line: Stacking up to the Rest
While the Ravens do have some developing edge rushers, the rest of the AFC North blows the Ravens' pass rush out of the water. Each team in the AFC North has at least one high-impact pass rusher that gives the Ravens and other teams problems.
Ojabo is in his first healthy offseason, so everybody has high expectations for him this year. For Oweh, those sentiments are heightened due to his lackluster 2022. While he showed great promise in his rookie season, Oweh had fewer sacks in more games played last year.
The Ravens undoubtedly improved this offseason, but the AFC North takes no prisoners. In 2022, the AFC North had more combined wins than any other division in the AFC. It will take more than a solid draft class and important free agent signings to end the year atop this division: everybody will have to chip in to rise to their expectations.