Ravens lose key offensive line piece as John Simpson bolts for Jets

The Ravens have suffered some big losses in free agency

Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens v Jacksonville Jaguars / Perry Knotts/GettyImages
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The Baltimore Ravens went into free agency knowing they could lose both of their starting guards from last season in veteran Pro Bowler Kevin Zeitler at right guard and rehabilitation project John Simpson at left guard. That nightmare scenario could end up coming true after Baltimore's sluggish start out of the gates in free agency.

The Ravens lost four free agents after the legal tampering period began, as Ronald Darby and Devin Duvernay joined the Jacksonville Jaguars while Gus Edwards and Geno Stone bolted for the Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively. Simpson also eyed an inter-conference move.

The Ravens likely weren't expecting a starting guard when they plucked Simpson away from the Las Vegas Raiders, but they turned him into a rock-solid left guard for Lamar Jackson's second MVP season. Perhaps they did too good a job, as the New York Jets saw what a nice player he morphed into.

The Jets lured Simpson away from Baltimore with a two-year deal worth up to $18 million. Once again, the Ravens will need to either lean on a trusted internal backup for scour the free agent bargain bin to find a player who can keep jackson upright during a playoff push.

Ravens lose starting LG John Simpson to Jets on two-year deal

While Simpson was one of the more penalized guards in the league last year, his mauling style of play made him a tremendous run-blocker for an offense that was at the top of the league once again in performance on the ground. Countless big Edwards or Jackson runs began with Simpson setting a key block.

If the cash-strapped Ravens only had enough money (and the desire) to retain one of their starting guards from last year, Zeitler's experience and pedigree seems to have been more attractive than Simpson's youth and raw potential.

Due to his versatility, Patrick Mekari makes a ton of sense to slide in as the full-time left guard, but the Ravens may also consider moving Ben Cleveland over to the left side as a replacement. Both of them are behemoths who can rip open running lanes, which is what this run-first Ravens team wants.

Simpson is never going to be an All-Pro, but he will likely be a huge upgrade over the XFL players who made up a terrible Jets offensive line last season. Seeing Simpson go is a tough loss, but the Ravens did manage to squeeze great performances for him after Vegas cast him aside.

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