Eric Decker was never coming to Baltimore. Although there was some speculation, I don’t believe Baltimore was really entertaining the idea of adding another big free agent receiver after going out and paying Jeremy Maclin $11 million for two years. However, now that Decker is officially off the market, one has to wonder if the Ravens will pursue any other big name free agents this offseason. It is quite late in the game for any more additions, but there are some players that the Ravens may decide to target to bolster the team even further. However, whether or not the organization does decide to target more free agents, will ultimately come down to economics and depth at positions.
Baltimore Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti indicated during a press conference held for PSL owners that the Ravens offensive line is still a work in progress and that they are open to the addition of a new offensive lineman, specifically a tackle. There are two offensive tackles currently on the market that the Ravens would be interested in, Ryan Clady, 30, and Austin Pasztor, 26. Clady, a former Bronco, and Jet found success with both teams. However, in 2015, Clady sustained a torn ACL, leading to him being traded to the Jets. In 2016 Clady tore his rotator cuff, and the Jets declined his $10 million option in 2017, placing him on the free agent market. Clady is a wild card type free agent prospect for the Ravens. His past production is solid, but his recent injury history is very discouraging for the Ravens. Clady will have to pass a few medical exams before even being considered by the Ravens front office. The other offensive tackle, Austin Pasztor, had spent some of his time with the Jaguars and Browns before hitting the free agent market this year. He does not have the level of success that Clady had in the NFL, but he lacks the injury bug that seems to have taken hold of Clady. If Baltimore wants to add another offensive tackle, which it appears as if they do, they will have to decide on what they value more, a player with a productive history, or a player with a healthy history. Personally, I believe that Pasztor is the more likely to end up on the Ravens roster this season, but Clady could make a strong case for himself if he checks in as healthy for the Ravens.
The Ravens also could make a move for a new starting center, as they traded away their former starting center, Jeremy Zuttah, earlier this offseason. If Baltimore is pursuing a new center, Nick Mangold would be the obvious choice for the team. The 33-year-old veteran has been very productive for the New York Jets throughout his career, although he has had issues with injuries recently, as he has had trouble with his ankle. Mangold would be a classic Ravens free agency addition, by adding a new player who is in the twilight of their career to fill a crucial role. Since Mangold is heading towards the end of his career, he may be more concerned with a team’s potential to compete rather than to make more money at this point. If so, the Ravens would be a perfect fit, as they are always in the mix for the playoffs and a championship. However, Mangold may decide to turn away from Baltimore if he is more concerned about monetary gain. The Ravens don’t exactly have much wiggle room in the realm of salary cap right now.
The Ravens could end up signing one of these three players, either Ryan Clady, Austin Pasztor, or Nick Mangold. The offensive linemen would make a lot of sense for the Baltimore Ravens, however, the financial side may keep Baltimore at a disadvantage to compete with other potential suitors. According to RusselStreetReport.com, the Ravens only have around $5.5 million in cap space left. Baltimore won’t want to spend all of it, and would probably only want to part with roughly $3 million to $4 million on the cap space, significantly limiting their reach on some of these players. This could put Mangold out of reach for the Ravens, as he may come at a much higher cost unless he is willing to take a pay cut to join the team. Baltimore’s best hope is for Austin Pasztor. He’s the youngest, and least banged up player out of the bunch and comes with the smallest price tag. Baltimore could probably get him on a $1.5 million yearly deal for x amount of years if they play their cards right.