To Keep, or Not to Keep, That is the Question
I know, that’s a little bit corny, but I’m an English Language and Literature graduate and live an hour from Shakespeare’s birthplace so hopefully you can excuse the reference to his classic tragedy. It’s relevant though when you consider the decisions that Eric DeCosta has to make in his first offseason as Ravens GM (albeit not as significant as Hamlet having to deal with his mum deciding to date his dead dad’s brother, but you get my point; it’s all relative).
There are a number of players who need contract considerations or may well be cap casualties as it appears that the organization firmly believes they are in a “win now” position, especially after Lamar Jackson led them to the postseason. With that in mind, let’s look at the key positions with players DeCosta will be considering soon and guess what the outcome may be.
Let’s start with the obvious. C.J. Mosley is an unrestricted free agent and needs re-signing. DeCosta knows that and it sounds like he will make a huge push to get that done. However, if Mosley demands to be the highest paid ILB in the league, he will hit the market. DeCosta isn’t stupid and knows the cap will be relatively tight in comparison to teams like the Jets and the Colts. There are too many holes to fill to put all of the team’s money into one player (yes, I’m looking at you Le’Veon Bell) so if it’s not realistic, Mosley will be gone.
The same goes for Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith. Suggs will probably be open to a cheap(ish) deal. Smith though will be cashing in on a big year so I’m 99% confident he will hit the market this year.
The other linebacker that needs addressing is Peanut Onwuasor, who will get tendered after a solid year.
As much as it pains to admit it, I see Mosley’s demands going too high for the team and him testing the market, where he will get paid. Same with Smith.
I had high hopes for John Brown last year and he certainly looked the part at the start of the season. However, he just doesn’t suit Lamar Jackson’s style of play the Ravens will let him walk this offseason. Michael Crabtree is an interesting one because he looked like an easy decision until the last part of the Wild Card game. I appreciate it was essentially garbage time but I don’t think DeCosta will be quite ready to give up on him yet, particularly if their other veteran receiver is leaving.
Physically, Crabtree fits the system well: he’s a big guy with long arms and an aggressive style. If he can sort his greasy hands, he will be a useful target for Lamar.
This is a very interesting scenario. I’ll be honest: I (along with a number of other people) expected Alex Collins to be the featured back this year and continue where he left off in 2017. Evidently, that didn’t happen. I honestly would be surprised to see him back with the team next season. Gus Edwards exploded into the starting role as a violent north/south runner and Kenneth Dixon proved his worth when he returned to the team, so those two will stick around. Buck Allen will be released and I imagine the same fate waits for Ty Montgomery. I really thought he would work out but he just didn’t fit the team. De’Lance Turner may well be given an opportunity this preseason but now the team officially has a run-first offense, I expect to see upgrades here.
This is another position where there will be movement. Eric Weddle’s future very much depends on Mosley; one will stay, the other will go. As stated above, I see Mosley hitting the market, so Weddle will stay on for his final year as leader of the defense.
Jimmy Smith is an interesting one because he played some of his best football at the end of last season, but his cap hit is just too high to keep him on the roster, particularly given his injury and suspension history. I see him being shopped to teams with cap space, probably for a Day 3 pick. Smith leaving means Brandon Carr stays, especially given his exceptional durability.
DeCosta said in his introductory presser that he wants the team to keep their best players. I have no doubt that he will try his best to keep the likes of Mosley and Z.Smith, but he’s not an idiot. He will know there are multiple holes that need filling across the roster and overpaying two guys to the detriment of the rest of the team is not how you build a winner.
I have faith in what DeCosta will do this offseason and fully expect to see some big moves as he goes about his new role.
submitted by Paul Stokes