Many articles have surfaced recently regarding the respective futures of the Ravens’ 10 Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) and 4 Restricted Free Agents (RFA). Will they stay or will they go? So, as we’ve done each of the past few seasons, we’ve asked four of our long-time contributors at Russell Street Report, to tap into their respective areas of expertise and shed some light on each of these 14 players and determine if their careers will continue in Baltimore or if they’ll be moving on to represent another NFL city.
RB Buck Allen (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 14 games, 0 starts; 41 carries, 110 yards (2.7 ypc), 3 TDs; 35 receptions, 196 yards (5.6 ypr), 2 TD; 26.1% of Off Snaps.
2017 Key Stats: 16 games, 0 starts; 153 carries, 591 yards (3.9 ypc), 4 TDs; 46 receptions, 250 yards (5.4 ypr), 2 TD; 42.9% of Off Snaps.
Ken McKusick: Buck wasn’t part of the Ravens plans down the stretch when his snaps were reduced dramatically. Prior to that, his yards per touch were very low. Even if Ty Montgomery leaves, I expect the Ravens want a more elusive pass catcher/runner as their 3rd-down back.
Dev Panchwagh: Allen is a good in-between the tackles runner, short-yardage, and goal-line back. He can give you a little bit in the passing game too. But the limitations outweigh the plus points. And with Gus Edwards and Ken Dixon clearly ahead on the depth chart, and a rookie RB class that screams for attention, this is probably the end of Buck’s run as a Raven.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian McFarland): Allen played 2018 under the final year of his 4-year, $2,754,472 rookie deal. His Cap number for 2018 was 823,618. HC John Harbaugh spoke glowingly of Allen during the season, but once Lamar Jackson took over at QB, Allen’s playing time decreased dramatically. That doesn’t mean that they might not re-sign him, but he’s likely not going to get more than the veteran minimum, be it here or elsewhere.
Tony’s Take (Tony Lombardi):
Buck is a solid teammate and contributes in unsung ways. He has a knack for getting small and finding a small crevice to move chains and keep drives alive. That, coupled with his special teams acumen, makes him a worthy candidate to re-sign. Yet the coaching staff apparently doesn’t believe that Buck’s style is a fit for Lamar Jackson, hence the limited work once Jackson became the starter. Besides, the Ravens mid-season signing of Ty Montgomery was hardly a ringing endorsement for the former USC Trojan. There’s an outside chance the Ravens could bring him back if prodded by special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg, but only after they exhaust other options in the form of free agent cap casualties and of course the draft.
Buck is the fallback of fallback positions. If he’s a Raven again, it will be on very team-friendly terms but I don’t see it happening. Best of luck Buck!
TE Nick Boyle (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 16 games, 13 starts; 23 receptions, 213 yards (9.3 ypr), 0 TD; 54.8% of Off Snaps.
2017 Key Stats: 15 games, 11 starts; 28 receptions, 203 yards (7.3 ypr), 0 TD; 64.0% of Off Snaps.
Ken: The Ravens need a good blocking TE who can also provide some value as a receiver. Boyle fits the need exactly and that’s why he was playing more snaps than any of the other TEs down the stretch despite the emergence of Andrews and return of Hurst. It was nice to see him play a full season without injury or suspension, which may mean he has a market as a free agent. I expect the Ravens will return with at least one of Boyle and Williams and perhaps both given the use of TEs in Greg Roman’s offense.
Dev: Boyle has always been a sneaky cog in the Ravens’ pass blocking and run blocking scheme, especially as they have phased away from the traditional fullback. Boyle fits like a glove in Greg Roman’s scheme in particular as an H-Back who can line up on the line or in the backfield. He is a terrific isolation blocker who anchors and gets movement at the point. Boyle has to be viewed though as strictly a blocking enforcer – but given the emergence of pass-catching rookies Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst, he doesn’t need to be anything more.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Twice suspended, Boyle played 2018 under the final year of his 4-year, $ 2,446,254 rookie deal. His Cap number for 2018 was $746,565. Boyle isn’t likely to strike it rich in free agency and he does fit a need for the Ravens as a blocking TE/HB in the Lamar Jackson offense. Boyle isn’t going to break the bank, but he may get a little better deal that many would expect.
Tony’s Take (Tony): Boyle’s stats are not going to attract the attention of many teams. Nor will his status as a repeat offender when it comes to PED’s. But what is attractive about Boyle is his ability to make those around him better. He willingly does the dirty work as an in-line blocker and that makes him valuable to Greg Roman. Unless some team sitting on ample cap space concludes that Boyle’s workmanlike approach is endearing and they reach too far down into the cookie jar to acquire him, I expect Boyle to return on a modest 2-year deal. He’s the more valuable of the two Ravens free agent tight ends. If the Ravens lose Boyle, Maxx Williams could be a decent and similarly priced consolation prize.
WR John Brown (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 16 games, 15 starts; 42 receptions, 715 yards (17.0 ypr), 5 TD; 63.7% of Off Snaps.
Ken: Brown was targeted 30 times with just 8 catches for 114 yards after Lamar Jackson took over as the starting QB. In terms of his skill set, he looks like a player who could provide extended-play opportunities for Jackson, but it hasn’t worked out that way so far. While it appears the Ravens need to sign a FA receiver again, I expect John to sign elsewhere.
Dev: Brown was on the verge of a breakout campaign with Joe Flacco calling the signals. He looked like the perfect fit for the offense as a downfield target who not only took the top off but could fight for 50-50 balls. However, as defenses started to play more press against him, he had his struggles, and the lack of size was an issue on contested pass attempts. With Lamar Jackson throwing the ball, Brown’s opportunities on the outside were even more limited. At his absolute best, Brown can be a T.Y. Hilton clone in the right offense. It doesn’t seem like he’ll get that chance in Baltimore.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Brown played 2018 under a 1-year, $5M deal. Brown bet on himself with a 1-year deal and during the first half of the season, it looked like a strong move. The 2nd half of the season didn’t work out so well, but after a couple of down years, Brown looks to have reestablished his market value and will likely receive a decent multi-year offer.
Tony’s Take (Tony): I admired how John Brown bet on himself in 2018 as a Raven. Clearly he wanted to put up numbers and then parlay that into a long-term deal in 2019. The plan worked initially, but as the touches during the season’s second half dropped measurably (8 catches for 114 yards during the final 7 regular season games), so too did his earning power in free agency.
The wild card here, is the relationship that Brown developed with teammates during his first season in Baltimore. It has value to him. The question is, how much value. Ravens GM Eric DeCosta likes Brown. So don’t dismiss Brown’s re-signing in Baltimore. There is however, one thing working against the Ravens – the dearth of free agent talent at wide receiver. Brown will test the market and give the Ravens a chance to counter. The dismissal of Michael Crabtree gives the Ravens a little extra juju to keep Brown, in more ways than one. Will it be enough? I’ll go with “yes”.
RB Alex Collins (RFA):
2018 Key Stats: 10 games, 10 starts; 114 carries, 411 yards (3.6 ypc), 7 TDs; 15 receptions, 105 yards (7.0 ypr), 1 TD; 26.2% of Off Snaps.
2017 Key Stats: 15 games, 12 starts; 212 carries, 973 yards (4.6 ypc), 6 TDs; 23 receptions, 187 yards (8.1 ypr), 0 TD; 34.8% of Off Snaps.
Ken: I was moderately surprised the Ravens did not make a low tender to Collins for approximately $2M. His outside speed is not an ideal complement for Jackson, who provides an edge threat every play. The Ravens must have decided they want more players who run between the tackles (Edwards) or are effective one-cut runners (Dixon) without having to bounce all the way outside. Collins never did explode as a receiver in Baltimore after limited success with the Seahawks as a rookie.
Dev: Collins had a terrific stretch in 2017. He was the team’s offensive workhorse. His improvisation and big-play ability fueled an offense that was devoid of playmakers. He also opened up the outside run game under Roman’s direction. However, the read-option is a different animal that requires the lead back to accelerate through the inside creases. There’s no room for hesitation. Collins’ lack of decisiveness and constant dancing in the backfield caught up with him in 2018. He simply couldn’t get going and his YPA drastically plummeted. Lastly, he remained a fumble liability.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Collins played 2018 under a $630K ERFA tender. Now a RFA, the Ravens decision on a RFA tender is going to be interesting. Coming into 2018, Collins, a former 5th round pick, looked like a lock to receive the 2nd round RFA tender (~$3.092M), but after a so-so first half of the season, he now seems destined to receive the low tender (~$2.023M). That said, it’s also possible the Ravens don’t tender Collins at all, and instead, as they have done with other RFAs in the past, offer him a lesser 1- or 2-year deal.
Tony’s Take (Tony): It always surprised me that the Ravens didn’t try and get Collins out in space as a receiver a bit more. His ability to break tackles in the open field paves the way to explosive plays. Obviously the team’s offensive brain trust concluded that Collins and Jackson go together about as well as Robert Kraft and monogamy and just like that, he vanished.
Collins will find a new home, he’ll make a few splash plays somewhere and right on cue, someone will knee jerk react with, “The Ravens should never have let that guy go!”
QB Robert Griffin, III (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 3 games, 0 starts.
Ken: He seems to be an ideal mentor for Jackson, but the sand is running through the hourglass on his chance to start again in the NFL. With his play in the preseason and 1 drive of play in Atlanta, he showed he still has the ability to direct the offense should the need arise. He’s saying all the right things, but I expect he’ll take a long look at the opportunities presented elsewhere and make his decision based on where he’s most likely to get playing time.
Dev: As the primary backup to Jackson when Flacco was out, RG3 was quite fine in his role. He provided more mental than physical value as a sounding board for Jackson. When you evaluate the value of a backup QB, they are commonly grouped in two tiers – 1. The QB who can win you 1-2 games in a pinch or 2. The QB who can win you 5-6 and keep the season afloat. Teams that have the first type of backup naturally have a tier 1 starting QB. RG3 falls into that first tier, but the Ravens really need someone who falls into tier 2 – maybe Tyrod Taylor or even Case Keenum (if he’s released).
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Griffin played 2018 under a 1-year, $1.1M deal. It appears that Griffin is a possibility to return in 2019, this time as the primary back-up QB. If so, he’s likely going to be looking for a bump in salary, perhaps up to $2M (likely with incentives, which would pay him more if he were to start for an extended period).
Tony’s Take (Tony): Robert Griffin is 29 years old. He obviously has some shelf life. And as a former Heisman winner, Pro Bowl QB and Offensive Rookie of the Year (2012), you have to think he’d like to be in a place where he has the chance to start and prove himself all over again. And that won’t happen in Baltimore unless Lamar is injured. He’ll look for other options but in the end, I think RGIII will be wearing “3” in purple again in 2019.
CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste (RFA):
2018 Key Stats: Spent entire 2018 season on Injured Reserve (IR).
Ken: He looked terrific in the 2018 preseason and has the length NFL teams love in an outside corner. However, SJB is a sad case of the declining option value players have on their rookie contracts and what happens when they miss time due to injury. Had he not been hurt, he probably would have had some playing time and given the Ravens a better idea of the value of a RFA tender. As it stands, I don’t think he’ll be tendered and given the Ravens depth at corner, the deal that makes sense to me would be 2 years for perhaps $2.5M. He may be able to do better as a free agent.
Dev: Jean-Baptiste is a talented player with physical traits that are hard to find. He’s got that Richard Sherman body type. Obviously, he’s no Richard Sherman though – having bounced around between six teams. Moreover, there is a logjam a quality CBs in front of him. Would it make sense to bring him back or draft a corner instead? That’s the question to consider.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): As an RFA, the low tender of $2.023M is too much to pay. Jean-Baptiste played well in training camp before the injury, so it’s definitely possible that the Ravens non-tender him, but sign him to a lesser 1-year deal.
Tony’s Take (Tony): SJB has flashed during the preseason. He seems like one of those guys who looks like a developing diamond in the rough during camp and fake games but then he just disappears. He’s played in just 5 career regular season games. I expect the Ravens to bring him back at something far less than the RFA low tender with little in the way of guarantees.
RB Tyrone Montgomery (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 6 games, 0 starts; 15 carries, 83 yards (5.5 ypc), 0 TDs; 10 receptions, 65 yards (6.5 ypr), 0 TD; 9.6% of Off Snaps.
Ken: Montgomery’s snap percentage down the stretch was a little disappointing, given the investment of a 7th-round selection and the fact he was the only Ravens RB with any pedigree as a pass blocker. He was targeted just 17 times with 10 catches, which is too low a catch percentage for a RB and he didn’t have any explosive plays as a receiver to make up for it. The Ravens desperately need a RB who can is a threat as a receiver, but given his 2018 season, Ty is just one such option.
Dev: I’m biased. I’ve always like Montgomery as a Weapon X type of player who can split out wide or line up as a traditional back. It’s not often you find a player with that dual ability – guys like Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Rex Burkhead come to mind immediately. Of course, the difference with those guys is that they are not converted wide receivers. Montgomery had more big-play ability in 2017 with the Packers. He can be that guy again, but he has a propensity to put the ball on the ground in key situations. At this point, if the market is tepid on Montgomery, it would probably make sense to wait until after the draft to bring him back. This draft class is loaded with players like Montgomery who have more upside and could turn into impact players – something that Montgomery won’t turn into at this point in his career.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Following a trade deadline deal with the Packers, Montgomery spent the last 9 weeks on the Ravens roster. While he looked solid in purple & black, Montgomery is not likely to command more than a minimum deal and could be a guy the Ravens look to re-sign at some point (but, not likely until after the draft).
Tony’s Take (Tony): Like Dev, I admire Montgomery’s versatility – a skillset best utilized in a multi-faceted offense with a signal caller who is capable of seeing the field and spreading the ball around. That describes Aaron Rodgers (before his fall out with Mike McCarthy). It also describes offenses led by Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and others. An offense like that is an ideal spot for Montgomery. Best wishes Ty. And thanks for recovering that bad pitch from Lamar against the Browns. Otherwise, the Ravens would have failed to make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
LB CJ Mosley (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 15 games, 15 starts; 105 total tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 PDs, 0 FFs; 84.5% of Def Snaps; Pro Bowl.
2017 Key Stats: 16 games, 16 starts; 132 total tackles, 1.0 sacks, 2 INT, 7 PDs, 3 FFs; 98.4% of Def Snaps, Pro Bowl.
Ken: Mosley re-emerged down the stretch after a tough first half punctuated by injury and finished the regular season with one of the iconic plays in Ravens history. He is one of 3 players with the best chance to be the signal caller (Weddle, Jefferson), so the Ravens will likely retain at least one. In addition, his every-down play both contributed to, and allowed for, the Ravens maintenance of the 3-man WLB platoon that had outstanding production. If Mosley were to leave, the Ravens might have to break up that platoon which I expect will degrade 2 positions. That said, Mosley needs to be signed for the right price and to do so, the Ravens need to have a plan on how to move on without him.
Dev: Throughout his career, Mosely has been underrated in his ability to make plays. With Mosley, you’re going to get a certain level of consistent play. He still hurts the team at times in coverage, but he’s outstanding against the run and was more disruptive at the line of scrimmage this season. Perhaps his biggest value to the defense is as the signal-caller. It’s hard to image the Ravens letting him go along with Eric Weddle, as both players shared those duties last season. However, at the end of the day, Mosley is not worth Luke Kuechly money. If the two sides can agree to a bit less, you have to keep Mosley in the fold to serve as the bridge defender when the other veterans (Suggs, Jimmy Smith, Weddle), could be on the way out.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): This is one of the biggest decisions of the offseason for the Ravens. Mosley is expected to see a top of the market deal and is likely to become the highest paid ILB in the league. Whether the Ravens and Mosley can find an agreeable number remains to be seen, if not, Mosley is likely to hit the open market, as the cost of the Franchise Tag (over $15M) would seem to be probative.
Tony’s Take (Tony): It’s situations like this that GM Eric DeCosta wants to avoid – allowing a young, productive player to leave via free agency. In hindsight, the Ravens probably wish that they did more to lock Mosley up before joining the ranks of unrestricted free agents. But such thoughts now are nothing more than water under the bridge.
In today’s NFL you pay top dollar to players who touch the ball, touch the quarterback or affect an opponent’s passing game. None of that describes Mosley. He’s not Luke Kuechly. So, the Ravens have to ask themselves, if they don’t pony up for Mosley, what can they do with the money to improve in other areas that can more than offset the weakening of the two inside backer positions, as Ken points out above.
At the end of the day, Mosley will land with a team that both has a need for his skillset and flush with cap space. The Colts and Browns come to mind. The Ravens will save the money and take the 2020 3rd-round comp pick.
LB Patrick Onwuasor (RFA):
2018 Key Stats: 16 games, 12 starts; 59 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 1 INT, 3 PDs, 2 FFs; 41.9% of Def Snaps.
2017 Key Stats: 16 games, 13 starts; 90 total tackles, 1.0 sacks, 0 INTs, 2 PDs, 1 FF; 59.2% of Def Snaps.
Ken: The 2nd-round tender looks like a good gamble on a player who emerged as both a pass rusher and pass-rush contributor (underneath on twists, enabling others to get home) in 2018. As a smaller player, he clearly benefited from a lower snap percentage and was part of a remarkably productive 2018 WLB platoon with Kenny Young and Anthony Levine. All 3 players should be back, but if the Ravens do not have an every-down Mike LB, I expect production to drop significantly. Peanut is an odd case where his playing time could drop slightly (to say 38-40% of snaps) and he would still be a value at $3.1M, because his snaps will be a better fit for his skill set.
Dev: Peanut Onwuasor is another one of the younger defenders Eric DeCosta has to consider extending on a long-term deal. Of course, that decision will directly relate to how Mosley is handled. Regardless, Onwuasor is not the type of player who can instantly take over for Mosley and replicate his down-by-down value. They complement each other well, as Peanut has more of the space and blitzing ability. Peanut was obviously a force at the end of the season and made big play after big play for the team. He’s on the rise, but he’s not a three-down defender, which makes it tough to gauge his overall value.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Onwuasor played 2018 under a $630K ERFA tender. Now a RFA, the low RFA tender would only allow the Ravens the opportunity to match any offer sheet, since Onwuasor was undrafted. As such, it looks like “Peanut” is a lock to receive the 2nd round RFA tender (~$3.092M),
Tony’s Take (Tony): With Mosley gone the Ravens can’t afford to lose Onwuasor. He’ll get the 2nd-round tender from the Ravens while both sides eye a multi-year deal to avoid being at the bargaining table a year from now when Peanut is eligible to become an unrestricted FA.
DT Michael Pierce (RFA):
2018 Key Stats: 14 games, 2 starts; 20 total tackles, 0 sacks; 37.6% of Def Snaps.
2017 Key Stats: 16 games, 13 starts; 49 total tackles, 1.0 sacks; 54.3% of Def Snaps.
Ken: Pierce is the one player who may receive interest despite a 2nd round tender. Part of the drop in snaps was a function of injury, but make no mistake, Michael took a big step forward in 2018 and the Ravens depended on him as a pass rusher down the stretch. He’s another good candidate for an early extension.
Dev: Rated as Pro Football Focus (PFF)’ top graded defender, Pierce had a banner season in 2018. He was pivotal to the team’s improved play against the run. He also flashed as a surprise contributor in the pass rush scheme. There are bigger names on this defense, but make no mistake, Pierce might be as important as anyone outside of Marlon Humphrey and C.J. Mosley.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Pierce played 2018 under a $630K ERFA tender. Like Onwuasor, the low RFA tender for Pierce would only allow the Ravens the opportunity to match any offer sheet, since he was also undrafted. As such, it seems clear that Pierce will receive the 2nd round RFA tender (~$3.092M).
Tony’s Take (Tony): Pierce is the most likely candidate for the next multi-year extension. During the Tavon Young presser to announce the slot corner’s extension, both DeCosta and John Harbaugh expressed hope that a similar announcement with another Ravens player could happen soon. There’s a very good chance the player they cryptically reference is Pierce. At the very least, he’ll get the 2nd-round tender.
OLB Za’Darius Smith (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 16 games, 8 starts; 45 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 FF; 66.7% of Def Snaps.
2017 Key Stats: 14 games, 4 starts; 24 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF; 48.5% of Def Snaps.
Ken: I love the inside/outside versatility of Smith as a pass rusher. In my opinion, that ability to be almost as good from the inside causes him to be undervalued by PFF and other analysts. However, like Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee, Smith has peaked at a time where he may price himself out of Baltimore.
Dev: It was good while it lasted. Za’Darius Smith will likely follow in the footsteps of other Baltimore defenders who broke out in their contract years. Smith really fit well in Wink’s scheme, which maximized his ability to rush and get pressure from the interior. If someone really wanted to make an argument for keeping Smith, they certainly could. He was the team’s most difficult pass rusher for opposing offenses to scheme for last season. Wink ran more line games (twists, stunts), and Smith was a catalyst for those operations to run smoothly.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Smith played 2018 under the final year of his 4-year, $2,763,124 rookie deal. His Cap number for 2018 was $825,788. As a versatile pass rusher, who appears to be coming into his own, Smith is likely to get a rich FA deal. In the past, that usually meant that Smith would find that deal elsewhere. Whether that will remain the philosophy of new GM Eric DeCosta remains to be seen.
Tony’s Take (Tony): Perhaps one day, we won’t be sitting here discussing free agents and conclude that a coveted one has “priced himself out of Baltimore”. But that’s exactly what is going down with Za’Darius. The one thing that could weaken his market value is the number of edge rushers on the market competing for dollars. The other thing that could temper interest in the former Kentucky Wildcat is consistency. There were times when Za’Darius disappeared.
That said, a pass rusher who can provide an inside push is a highly desirable commodity. Smith was compared to Pernell McPhee when he joined the Ravens. He’ll be compared to him again when he leaves.
OLB Terrell Suggs (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 16 games, 16 starts; 34 total tackles, 7.0 sacks, 1 FF; 71.9% of Def Snaps.
2017 Key Stats: 16 games, 16 starts; 49 total tackles, 11.0 sacks, 4 FFs; 77.2% of Def Snaps.
Ken: I don’t believe many Ravens fans are indifferent to Suggs finishing his career elsewhere. He’s given the Ravens a different kind of leader from Ray Lewis (preacher/communicator), Ed Reed (militant individualist), and Eric Weddle (coach in waiting). Suggs is a comic lightning rod whose voice booms above the others in practice and keeps the team loose punctuated by sorcerous reading of the opposing QB and run/pass indicators.
Dev: Suggs has certainly slowed in the twilight of his career. He doesn’t have that same get-off or short-year acceleration. However, he’ll win his matchups because of his football IQ, leverage, technique, and physical play. Against the run, Suggs might be the best at his position (still). His days as a coverage LB who could drop and take away short-area passing windows have also dwindled, but he can still provide that changeup as well. Overall, with Suggs, he’ll always bring value to any defense. But the organization needs to balance their desire to keep one of their all-time greats with the proper use of cap resources. They can’t be afraid to let him test the market.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Suggs played 2018 in the final year of his 5-year, $28.5M contract. That deal turned out to be a steal for the Ravens. Suggs, who will turn 37 during the 2019 season, is now looking for his 4th long term contract and it will be interesting to see what kind of market develops for Suggs. If the cost is reasonable, it will be hard for the Ravens to not bring him back to ensure the future Hall of Famer remains to a Ravens for life.
Tony’s Take (Tony): Suggs’ free agent status is very similar to that faced by the team and another former great – Ed Reed. The Ravens would prefer to keep Suggs but like Reed, he’ll find a team willing to overpay. And Suggs will accept that final pay day.
DE Brent Urban (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 16 games, 16 starts; 27 total tackles, 0.5 sacks; 50.4% of Def Snaps.
2017 Key Stats: 3 games, 3 starts; 13 games on IR; 11.2% of Def Snaps.
Ken: Urban finally demonstrated durability during the 2018 season and led the Ravens DL in terms of snaps. The Big 4 all played between 37.4% and 50.6% of snaps with Willie Henry (7.9%) topping all other DL in terms of snaps. Urban did not develop as hoped as a pass rusher, so he’s not a candidate for a cornerstone contract, but he should have an opportunity for 2-4 years in the $4-5 million per year range. I am afraid some team will value him more than the Ravens who have Zach Sieler ready to start at 5-tech and Willie Henry returning to provide interior pass rush.
Dev: Urban really came into his own as the starting five-technique. He was an underrated presence as an inside rusher in obvious pass downs and made key stops in the run game. Urban didn’t have the numbers to show his impact as a pass rusher. But he’s the perfect example of a “setup” player who can open up rush opportunities for the other defenders. He’s tough to block and has really improved his technique, playing with a lower center of gravity. Moreover, he started shooting gaps more often to become more of a disruptive force.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Coming off of 4 years during which he only played in 25 of a possible 64 games, Urban played the 2018 season under a 1-year, $1.1M “prove it” deal and he stayed healthy, starting all 16 games. Urban would seem like a solid, rotational guy who the Ravens would likely want to re-sign, but he probably falls under the “right player, right price” mantra. A few years ago, the Ravens were in a similar situation with DE Lawrence Guy. He was clearly the “right player”, however the contract offer he received from New England definitely did not fit the “right price” criteria.
Tony’s Take (Tony): I’ve heard that the Ravens are really excited about the potential of Zach Sieler. That coupled with the return of Willie Henry makes Urban expendable. Next man up.
TE Maxx Williams (UFA):
2018 Key Stats: 13 games, 6 starts; 16 receptions, 143 yards (8.9 ypr), 1 TD; 31.5% of Off Snaps.
2017 Key Stats: 11 games, 8 starts; 15 receptions, 86 yards (5.7 ypr), 1 TD; 29.0% of Off Snaps.
Ken: Williams is a notch below Boyle as a blocker, but he caught 16 of 17 targets in 2018 as compared to 23 of 37 for Boyle. The fact that he finally showed the soft hands for which he was drafted didn’t keep him from being a healthy scratch for 3 weeks. He did not have any targets in 4 of Jackson’s starts, and only 3 total, which does not speak to a high spot on the TE totem pole. He still had a snap count that was significant, based primarily on what he brings a blocker. I estimate the probability Williams is resigned at 60% and Boyle 70%, which means I think there is at least a 30% chance both will be back.
Dev: Williams was finally able to stay healthy in 2018. He had a nice season as part of the TE rotation Roman employed. He brought more to the table as a pass-catcher than Boyle and was surprisingly effective as an in-line blocker. He’s improved his blocking ability under Roman’s tutelage. Williams is a poor man’s Kyle Rudolph who can’t stretch the seams and is limited athletically as a difference-maker in the passing game.
Cap Implications/Costs (Brian): Williams played 2018 under the final year of his 4-year, $4,052,736 rookie deal. His Cap number for 2018 was $1.289M. Williams, who fought injuries over his 4 years with the Ravens, was a 2nd round pick, who never really was able to live up to the status. Williams isn’t likely to break the bank in free agency, but he did show himself to be a solid back-up level TE and provide himself to be a decent blocker in 2018.
Tony’s Take (Tony): The Ravens are unlikely to keep both Williams and Boyle and despite his improvement as a blocker, Williams is a tad less valuable to Roman’s offense than Boyle. The Ravens are also unlikely to lose both. If DeCosta re-ups with Boyle, Williams is out. If not, Williams isn’t a bad Plan B.