Ravens miss golden opportunity to sign starting guard as Vikings swoop in

The Ravens were unable to get a deal done.
Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Anyone from casual Baltimore Ravens fans to the most eagle-eyed of observers can attest that the team's offensive line is the most problematic part of the team's revamped offense. If there was any veteran guard out there who could have made an immediate impact on the team's offense, it was Dalton Risner.

After a solid start to his career with the Denver Broncos, Risner proved to be a quality starting guard during his one-season stint with the Minnesota Vikings. Risner has once again spent most of the offseason unsigned, demanding that he be paid well for his services in a thin market.

The Vikings eventually cratered to Risner's demands, giving him a one-year contract that gives him juicy per-game and signing bonuses. Many teams who needed a guard, Baltimore included, are likely not thrilled about this, as Risner was one of the few starting-caliber players still out there.

While it looked like Baltimore was in no rush to bring in another starting guard, the signing of Risner now all but confirms the Ravens will head into the season with Andrew Vorhees, Ben Cleveland, and new signing Josh Jones fighting for starting spots next to Pro Bowl center Tyler Linderbaum.

Baltimore Ravens free agent target Dalton Risner signs with Vikings

Every player in this competition has some serious flaws that could derail a successful campaign. While Jones has proven versatility in the pros and quality athleticism for the position, the fact he's on his third team in three years could be a sign the league as a whole is not very interested in what he brings to the table.

Cleveland is one of the strongest linemen in the league, but he's never been anything above an average guard when pressed into service during his three years as a Ravens backup. Will 2024 be the year the lightbulb finally goes on in his head?

Vorhees was regarded as a premier guard prospect before tearing his ACL at the 2023 NFL Combine, but that injury is now an indelible part of his profile as a player. Leaning on essentially a 25-year-old rookie with a history of major injuries may not be the most prudent strategy, even with his talent.

Risner would have been a robust left guard who could protect Lamar Jackson, but it seems like Baltimore is either insanely confident in their current crop of youngsters who could slide into starting roles or was unwilling to meet a very lofty asking price from Risner.