Ravens face de­ci­sions on un­re­stricted free agents

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FROM PAGE ONE -

C.J. Mosley

PFF rank: No. 22 line­backer

Stats: 105 tack­les, a half-sack, five passes de­fended, one in­ter­cep­tion in 15 games (15 starts)

Chances of re­turn: Pretty good. Mosley, 26, has said he wants to fin­ish his ca­reer in Bal­ti­more, where he’s a hugely re­spected voice in the locker room. Coach John Har­baugh has said he wants him back. DeCosta has said he ex­pects him back. If the Ravens can’t agree on a long-term deal with their for­mer first-round draft pick, Mosley could be re­tained with a fran­chise tag. It’d be a tem­po­rary fix, of course, but the two sides would have an­other year to find com­mon ground. If Mosley wants a top­dol­lar con­tract, the Ravens need to be con­vinced of his value not only in run de­fense but also pass cov­er­age. Pa­trick On­wua­sor and Kenny Young are promis­ing but rel­a­tively in­ex­pe­ri­enced, and ev­ery de­fense needs a leader at line­backer.

Brent Ur­ban

PFF rank: No. 49 in­te­rior de­fender Stats: 27 tack­les, a half-sack, two passes de­fended in 16 games (16 starts)

Chances of re­turn: De­cent. Ur­ban, 27, was re-signed to a one-year, $1.1 mil­lion, prove-it deal last off­sea­son, and he at least proved he could with­stand the rig­ors of an en­tire sea­son in the trenches. The 6-foot-7 de­fen­sive end, a gifted run stop­per, ap­peared in all 16 games for the sec­ond time in three years, and his 16 starts well sur­passed his pre­vi­ous ca­reer high of three. But Ur­ban has played in a com­bined nine games in his three other NFL sea­sons, and of­fered lit­tle pass-rush pro­duc­tion even when healthy (3½ sacks, four quar­ter­back hits in his ca­reer). His fu­ture could de­pend on the progress of seventh-round pick Zach Sieler, who ap­peared in just two games last sea­son.

Za’Dar­ius Smith

PFF rank: No. 33 edge de­fender

Stats: 45 tack­les, 8½ sacks, two passes de­fended, one forced fum­ble in 16 games (eight starts)

Chances of re­turn: Low. DeCosta was hope­ful last month that the Ravens might have a “chance” of re-sign­ing the 26-year-old, but he ac­knowl­edged that “the mar­ket is usu­ally out of con­trol” for edge rush­ers early in free agency. Smith fin­ished last sea­son with 60 pres­sures, ac­cord­ing to PFF, 17th most among edge de­fend­ers in the NFL. With Matthew Judon back for at least an­other sea­son, Ter­rell Suggs pos­si­bly re­turn­ing, and Tim Wil­liams and Tyus Bowser hav­ing the off­sea­son to get right, there’s not a glar­ing need at out­side line­backer. The Ravens have lost pass rush­ers such as Paul Kruger and Per­nell McPhee in free agency be­fore and still man­aged.

Maxx Wil­liams

PFF rank: No. 16 tight end

Stats: 16 catches for 143 yards, one touch­down in 13 games (six starts)

Chances of re­turn: Low. Wil­liams, 24, sol­diered through the highs (12 catches in his first four games) and lows (a cou­ple of healthy scratches) of his 2018 to turn in a sea­son that, ac­cord­ing to PFF, was only marginally worse than rookie Mark An­drews’. The for­mer sec­ond-round pick spoke of his fel­low tight ends as if they were brothers, even while they were com­pet­ing for snaps, and he said af­ter the sea­son that he hoped to re­turn. But the Ravens have two promis­ing young pass-catch­ing tight ends and needs else­where on of­fense. Wil­liams’ in­jury his­tory could hurt out­side in­ter­est, but there should be a solid mar­ket for a good blocker who caught all but one pass thrown his way last sea­son.

Ter­rell Suggs

PFF rank: No. 36 edge de­fender

Stats: 34 tack­les, seven sacks, six passes de­fended, one forced fum­ble in 16 games (16 starts)

Chances of re­turn: De­cent. Suggs will be 37 in Oc­to­ber. He’s the only player taken in the 2003 draft still ac­tive. And his age is start­ing to show: De­spite lead­ing all Ravens pass rush­ers in snaps last sea­son, he had no sacks in eight of his fi­nal 10 games, in­clud­ing his fi­nal three, when he to­taled just five tack­les. Suggs has said he wants to be a “Raven for life,” but it’s un­likely the team’s front of­fice — or any other’s, for that mat­ter — will be will­ing to guar­an­tee a con­tract be­yond 2019. If an of­fer comes and it’s re­spectable, it’s hard to see him fin­ish­ing his ca­reer else­where. No one in Bal­ti­more blinks when Suggs runs the team’s golf carts into wa­ter cool­ers be­fore prac­tice. Would he be af­forded those same kind of priv­i­leges on a new team?

Nick Boyle

PFF rank: No. 23 tight end

Stats: 23 catches for 213 yards in 16 games (13 starts)

Chances of re­turn: Pretty good. On a team with Wil­liams, An­drews and Hay­den Hurst, the 25-year-old Boyle was the only tight end to play more than 50 per­cent of the of­fense’s snaps last sea­son. Even if the Ravens be­come a more bal­anced at­tack un­der quar­ter­back La­mar Jack­son in 2019, it’s hard to imag­ine they’ll find an­other tight end whose block-first, ask-ques­tions-later ap­proach aligns as per­fectly with the team’s ground-game phi­los­o­phy. And with the pro­mo­tion of tight ends coach Greg Ro­man to of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, Boyle’s value should be well-known around the front of­fice. It’s un­clear what it might be around the NFL.

Ty Mont­gomery

PFF rank: No. 42 run­ning back

Stats: 15 car­ries for 83 yards, 10 catches for 65 yards in six games (no starts) with Ravens

Chances of re­turn: Low. The Ravens traded a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft for Mont­gomery, 26, and they got just about what they paid for in the mid­sea­son deal. Mont­gomery was a solid, sure-handed third-down back who helped out on re­turns when needed. But he was not as dy­namic as he once was with the Green Bay Pack­ers, and it’s not hard to imag­ine the Ravens see­ing greener grass in free agency or the draft. Mont­gomery could be re-signed on a cheap, prove-it deal, but there’s no guar­an­tee he’d even make the 53-man ros­ter.

John Brown

PFF rank: No. 70 wide re­ceiver

Stats: 42 catches for 715 yards, five touch­downs in 16 games (15 starts)

Chances of re­turn: Low. Other than Flacco, there was per­haps no player more ad­versely af­fected by the Ravens’ mid­sea­son change at quar­ter­back than Brown. Over the Ravens' first nine games, he had 34 catches for 601 yards and four touch­downs. Over their fi­nal eight: 10 catches for 128 yards and one touch­down. Brown, 28, said he ex­pects a more even run-pass dis­tri­bu­tion next year, and he had no griev­ances about how the sea­son un­folded per­son­ally. He called it the most fun of his ca­reer. But he stressed that he wanted to be able to pro­vide for his fam­ily with his next con­tract. Given Brown’s in­jury his­tory and falloff last sea­son, he’s un­likely to com­mand a long-term con­tract. If he wants one, he’d prob­a­bly help his case on a more pass-heavy team.

Buck Allen

PFF rank: No. 53 run­ning back

Stats: 41 car­ries for 110 yards, three touch­downs; 35 catches for 196 yards, two touch­downs; one lost fum­ble in 14 games (no starts)

Chances of re­turn: Low. It wasn’t that long ago that Har­baugh was call­ing Allen, 27, “qui­etly … one of the bet­ter play­ers in foot­ball at his po­si­tion.” But by the end of the reg­u­lar sea­son, Allen was a healthy scratch, his role usurped by Mont­gomery. Allen had three car­ries over the Ravens' fi­nal 10 games and wasn't tar­geted as a re­ceiver in their fi­nal eight. His great­est late-sea­son con­tri­bu­tions came on spe­cial teams, but those would not be es­pe­cially hard to re­place.

Robert Grif­fin III

PFF rank: count)

Stats: 2-for-6 for 21 pass­ing yards in three games (no starts)

Chances of re­turn: High. What other of­fense in the NFL suits Grif­fin’s skill set as well as the Ravens’? And what team in the NFL would be will­ing to give the soon-to-be 29-year-old a shot at its start­ing job un­der cen­ter? Grif­fin seemed to un­der­stand he would not be a cov­eted free agent this off­sea­son, even in a backup role, and he spoke of­ten of his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the Ravens, who took a chance in sign­ing him af­ter he spent a year out of the league. Grif­fin might never again re­sem­ble the dual-threat force he was as a Wash­ing­ton Red­skins rookie, but he’s at least a valu­able sound­ing board for Jack­son in the team’s quar­ter­backs room. Did not qual­ify (low snap

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