Which Ravens Free Agent Should be the Top Priority?

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The Baltimore Ravens have several high profile players entering free agency. So which free agent will the franchise bring back?

It seems as Ravens fans, we deal with this every year. Who will we lose in free agency? Who will we resign? Who will be the next cap casualty? This is all due to the Ravens consistently struggling with cap salaries.

So, as free agency approaches, stay strong Ravens Nation. We’ll lose some great players, no doubt. There is much debate over who is the most important unrestricted free agent to sign. However, we can look forward to the re-signing of some key free agents.

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Brandon Williams leads the charge as the most talked about upcoming free agent – for good reason, too. In the past three seasons as a starting defensive tackle for the Ravens, he has recorded 151 tackles and 3.5 sacks. At 6-foot-1 and 335 lbs., he has reputed as a stout run stopper in the NFL. However, a Williams re-signing can probably be viewed as a pipe dream for Ravens fans.

According to Sportrac.com, the average salary for the top 10 highest-paid DTs last season was $13.26 million. The lowest paid in the top 10 was Tyrone Crawford of the Dallas Cowboys at $9 million.

Williams will be expecting a top 10 salary  so we can expect that he will be too rich for a Ravens team expected to have about $15 million in available cap space. Williams has mentioned that he is willing to take a hometown discount. Also, recent reports have Williams discussing a possible franchise tag. So, it’s possible the Ravens could have their cake and eat it, too – at least for one more year.

Despite injury in three games, Wagner only missed one game in 2016

With that being said, the Ravens most important free agent signing is right tackle Rick Wagner. He had a solid year as he rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 ranked pass-blocking RT in the league. He has shown durability over his four-year career, missing only two games in that stretch.

The offensive line is also a major need for the Ravens in the offseason. The left side looks to have a promising future with 2016 rookie standouts Ronnie Stanley and Alex Lewis. Marshal Yanda is one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL. He was PFF’s top-ranked left guard in 2016 despite playing most of the year with an injured shoulder at a position opposite to his normal spot on the line.

However, center Jeremy Zuttah will be 31 in 2017 and James Hurst struggled mightily in games against the Raiders, Steelers and Bengals when playing in relief of Wagner.

Fans should also take note of how the Ravens performed when they’re offensive line was a revolving door at the beginning of the season. Stanley, Lewis, Yanda and Wagner all missed one or more games in 2016 due to injury. Two different offensive lineman moved to unfamiliar positions to even out the line.

Simply put, the offensive line was a mess early in the season which caused the Ravens to hit a four-game losing skid. Even so, Wagner only missed week 17 against the Bengals after suffering a concussion against the Steelers a week earlier. A durable offensive lineman like Wagner will be invaluable, especially one that ranked in the top 5 of pass blockers at his position. The Ravens should view Wagner as a player they cannot afford to lose.

About Philip Singleton 1 Article
Born and raised in Cumberland, MD, Philip has been a sports fan and follower for 15+ years. Graduated Allegany College of Maryland in 2014.

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