Ravens offensive line becomes an emergency as Kevin Zeitler leaves for Lions

Zeitler is the latest lineman to leave

AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens have gone through a lot of change this offseason, as big names like Geno Stone and Patrick Queen bolted for greener pastures. The offensive line, including right guard Kevin Zeitler, has not been decimated to the point where they have gone from above-average to a travesty.

Left guard John Simpson turned his breakout season into a two-year contract with Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets. Rather than cut veteran Ronnie Stanley, Eric DeCosta reworked his contract and traded away Morgan Moses to the New York Jets. Zeitler, who wasn't locked up earlier in the offseason, is also gone.

The Detroit Lions, a contender who lost young guard Jonah Jackson to the Los Angeles Rams in free agency, agreed to terms with Zeitler on a one-year contract. The Ravens had some questions on the offensive line before, but the situation has quickly become dire.

Baltimore Ravens offensive line is bad after Kevin Zeitler joins Lions

The 34-year-old Zeitler had always been a solid performer for teams like the Bengals, Browns, and Giants at various stages of his career, but nothing close to the Pro Bowl performance he put on display for the Ravens last year. Lamar Jackson won an MVP due in part to Zeitler protecting him.

Stanley is the starting left tackle, and the excellent Tyler Linderbaum is the center. Outside of that, backups litter the roster of a team that signed Derrick Henry to compete for a championship.

A pair of 2023 draft picks in Andrew Voorhees and Malaesala Aumavae-Lualu could fight for the left guard spot alongside the versatile Patrick Mekari. On the right side, Ben Cleveland and Daniel Faalele are the projected starters. Does that look like a group that can shut down Chris Jones and TJ Watt consistently?

The Ravens will assuredly make multiple additions to their offensive line in the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft, but asking rookies to perform like Zeitler in such an important season is a tall task. If Zeitler is not replaced adequately, the offense could struggle to perform as well as it did last year.