There was good news for Ravens fans in the first week of free agency, Brandon Williams one of the top players on the free agent market stayed in Baltimore and was encouraged to do so with a five-year $54 million dollar deal.
Williams is one of the NFL’s premier run stuffers, he constantly takes on double teams allowing linebackers to run free and turn in 100 tackle seasons. You can argue if the millions are stacked too high for a two- down player but there’s no arguing that Williams is one of best at what he does in the league.
The Ravens also added a key piece to their secondary landing former Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson with a 4-year/ $36 million deal. Jefferson is an undrafted player who turned himself into the top safety in this free agent class. He’s only 26, an ascending player, a hard hitter who should team with Eric Weddle to give the Ravens one of the top safety combo’s in the AFC.
Danny Woodhead is a nice add for the Ravens offense. The 5-9, 200 pound running back has more receiving yards than rushing yards in his career. In 2015 Woodhead had 80 catches for 755 yards and 6 touchdowns. His biggest challenge is getting on the field, in the last three years Woodhead has missed 27 games due to injuries.
There’s plenty of time between now and the September opener but Ozzie Newsome and his staff have a lot of work to do. Here’s a shopping list.
Cornerback: Number 1 priority, they really could use two. I like taking a cornerback with the 16th pick in the first round and adding a right-player right-price veteran in free agency (Mo Claiborne like). Team those two with Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young and the safety tandem of Weddle and Jefferson and that secondary weakness becomes a strength.
O-Line: Not quite the desperation of cornerback but the Ravens have two starter openings. Right tackle Rick Wagner is off to Detroit and needs to be replaced. The new right tackle will most likely be a moderately priced veteran or a draft pick. John Harbaugh would also like to get bigger and more physical at center and Jeremy Zutah’s replacement is tacked on to the to-do list.
Inside Linebacker: The sudden end to Zach Orr’s career eliminates a guy who led the team with 132 tackles last season. Kamalei Correa and Patrick Onwuasor are among the in-house candidates.
Edge Rusher: Elvis Dumervile is gone, Terrell Suggs will be entering his 15th season, are Matt Judon and Za’Darius Smith ready to step in?
Wide Receiver: Steve Smith is a broadcaster, Breshad Perrriman is a third year project, Mike Wallace and Chris Moore are back, is that enough? I don’t think so.
Running Back: The coaching staff would like to upgrade this position and I think they meant more than just Danny Woodhead. Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon (4 game suspension) are solid but the Ravens may be looking for a home run hitter.
Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk is a Pro Bowler and a terrific special teams player but has cashed in with the 49ers. Smart and versatile “Jus” won’t be easy to replace.