ESPN says Ravens could regress in 2024 after lackluster free agency

Will the Ravens take a step backward next season?

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens / Kara Durrette/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens have spent a lot more time thanking departing players for years of good service than they have welcoming new standouts into the fold. The 2024 offseason has seen many of Baltimore's best young draft picks and impact performers from the last few years find new homes.

The Ravens started off with a bang, signing Justin Madubuike to a long-term contract and adding standout running back Derrick Henry on a two-year contract. Outside of that, the Ravens have largely sat on the sidelines while names like Patrick Queen, Geno Stone, and Kevin Zeitler sign new contracts elsewhere.

Baltimore is still positioned to be one of the stronger teams in the AFC, but it's hard to claim they have improved by much in the last few weeks. ESPN seems to think they are much worse off than they were at the beginning of the month.

Three different ESPN writers, including Jeremy Fowler, believe the Ravens took the biggest step backward in free agency. Fowler bemoaned the lack of offensive line additions after the loss of Zeitler and John Simpson, Matt Bowen didn't like the lack of defensive replacements, and Jason Reid was surprised they didn't get more wide receiver help.

ESPN believes Baltimore Ravens will regress after free agency in 2024

The Ravens have been known to let veterans leave in exchange for compensatory picks, but starting a trio that has eight combined starts in Ben Cleveland, Andrew Vorhees, and Daniel Faalele (Cleveland has seven of those starts) is the dictionary definition of a risky decision.

The Ravens are trying to bring back veteran pass rushers like Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy, but the losses of Stone and Queen will be felt early on. Unless Trenton Simpson comes into his own and new defensive coordinator Zach Orr picks up where Mike Macdonald left off, the defense might start off a bit rocky.

While the Ravens could look for more wide receiver help in the NFL Draft, it's not unreasonable to question the validity of heading into the 2024 season, which is championship or bust in the eyes of so many, with four of Lamar Jackson's top five pass catching targets on rookie contracts.

The Ravens may have accomplished their top two goals ahead of the 2024 NFL offseason by signing Henry and locking up Madubuike, but they are a much less dee team than they were last year. In a very deep AFC, that could be enough to send them spiraling out to a point where they lose a few extra games.