The Baltimore Ravens made another big splash in free agency this week after signing Jeremy Maclin to a 2 year/$11 million deal, including crab cakes for life from Jimmy’s Seafood.
The signing came as much needed for a team that was criticized for not addressing the wide receiver position in the early part of free agency and the draft even though they signed competitive undrafted rookies Tim Patrick and Quincy Adeboyejo.. However, even with the additions of some wide receiver talent and a receiving back like Danny Woodhead it all would be for nothing if they don’t address the offensive line issues.
In free agency of 2015 and 2016 the Ravens lost LG Kelechi Osemele and RT Ricky Wagner and have not been able to replace them since. Alex Lewis was drafted in 2016 in the 4th round and inserted immediately into the LG position but then had to play out of position at LT for often injured Ronnie Stanley. If both are able to to stay healthy the left side of the line could be one of the best in the league. That leaves the center position and the right tackle in flux and there doesn’t appear to be a man on the roster to fill either.
In 2016, Jeremy Zuttah was the starting center and he was he terrible, unable to establish any kind of blocks for the run game and consistently getting beat in pass protection. Ravens fans can agree that they were relieved to see him traded to the 49ers, but who is going to be his replacement? The Ravens started mini-camp rotating through different guys at center and right tackle just to see who sticks before they enter training camp. Marshal Yanda is playing it safe by not practicing after having shoulder surgery but says he’ll be ready by week 1.
The Ravens drafted Jermaine Eluemunor and Stephane Nembot at guard and tackle to try and find the lineman of the future but they appear to be a few years off the mark at this point. Nick Mangold, who was released by the New York Jets, has been floated around as the temporary replacement at the center position as the Ravens have already had him in the building but he left without a deal.
Many fans are wondering why he isn’t already in a Ravens uniform but it may be a money issue. Mangold has been an all-pro center since 2009, so of course he believes he compensated for that. The Ravens will likely play the waiting game with him, and he should be wearing purple come training camp.
That leaves the Right tackle position to be filled and another former Jet would be perfect for that role. Ryan Clady is still out there as well but he has not visited the Ravens yet. Unlike Mangold, Clady tore his rotator cuff and was placed on injured reserve in November of 2016 but also had problems staying healthy in Denver as well. If the Ravens already had a fit for center and right tackle they wouldn’t be rotating players as much, and Clady is the best tackle still left on the open market.
The NFL is a copycat league and seeing the success of teams like the Raiders and Cowboys through building a solid front 5 forces the Ravens to add some more talent if they want to compete.
Will Nick Mangold and Ryan Clady be in a Ravens uniform before week 1? no one knows for sure but the longer they stay out there the lower that price tag comes down for the Ravens to pounce. For the Ravens, with training camp only a few weeks away time is of the essence to turn an underwhelming off-season into a potential Super Bowl run.