New faces: S Earl Thomas III, RB Mark Ingram II, WR Marquise Brown, OLB Jaylon Ferguson, WR Miles Boykin, OLB Pernell McPhee, CB Justin Bethel, WR Seth Roberts
They’re gone: LB C.J. Mosley, S Eric Weddle, OLB Terrell Suggs, QB Joe Flacco, OLB Za’Darius Smith, WR John Brown, DT Brent Urban, WR Michael Crabtree, RB Alex Collins
2019 snapshot: Even for a team used to letting talent walk in favor of compensatory picks, the Ravens had to be a little alarmed by how many big names departed this offseason. Obviously Flacco’s departure was inevitable — and he fetched a fourth-round pick despite the Ravens having no leverage — and Weddle was released.
But Baltimore likely didn’t expect Mosely, Suggs and Smith all to leave in free agency. Mosely’s departure was particularly concerning as (along with Weddle) a defensive leader and communicator, and no apparent replacement was added at inside linebacker.
New GM Eric DeCosta countered with the terrific signing of Thomas, who is still near his physical prime at age 30 but also brings the leadership, versatility and ability to disguise that Weddle offered. On the edge, DeCosta didn’t overpay for replacements, instead trying a cheap one-year flier on McPhee and drafting Ferguson, the NCAA’s all-time sack leader, in Round 3.
On offense, Baltimore made a concerted effort to build around QB Lamar Jackson, promoting Greg Roman to offensive coordinator, re-signing sturdy blocking TE Nick Boyle and adding speed (Brown and Boykin) at wideout. Mark Ingram (three years, $15 million) cost a bit much, but he should be very productive with Jackson drawing so much attention. More competition at center would have been nice, but the O-line remains solid.
All signs suggest Jackson will throw much more than he did as a rookie, but the Ravens are saving the full unveiling of Roman’s scheme for the regular season. How well it works out is anyone’s guess.
Get to know… WR Miles Boykin
Sporting a tantalizing combination of size and speed, Boykin has starred throughout training camp for the Ravens, giving him a legitimate shot to take a major role right away.
Worth the investment?
-Coming off an AFC North title, the Ravens’ over/under win total is just 8.5, and for good reason. With the Steelers and Browns both contenders, plus the unknown of a full season of Jackson, we’d stay away from this one.
-At 100/1, Jackson is not a heavy favorite to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. But considering his short resume as a pro and peers in the same range — including Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack — more than a few dollars could land on No. 8.
Bottom line: The Ravens’ defense was shaken perhaps more than they expected, but they still managed to build around Jackson, whose development is the key to 2019.