Coming off the first postseason win of Lamar Jackson’s career, the Baltimore Ravens are heading into the 2021 offseason with a bit of work to do and not quite enough money to do it. With most NFL teams undergoing a cap crunch this offseason with the tempered salary cap expected to reside between $175 and $185 million, teams like the Ravens will be pinching pennies and letting big-money players walk.
Their defense is going to be the unit that most likely sees the most turnover from the 2020 season, as players like outside linebackers Matthew Judon and Tyus Bowser, as well as defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Derek Wolfe, are going to be free agents and will test the market. Market values will be a very interesting element of this upcoming offseason to watch, based solely on how close teams will be willing to meet the demands of players and if contract structures will take on more of a one-year look, providing players with up-front security while setting themselves up for what hopefully projects to be an inflated cap for the 2022 league year.
Spotrac predicts the Ravens to have just under $21 million in cap space at its disposal this offseason, not including the rookie class funds. That means if they want to stay underneath the salary cap limit, this team will have to be creative with its additions, which may also result in further releases, like they have already begun to do with RB Mark Ingram (which saves $5 million).
But Baltimore certainly has big needs on both sides of the ball, as their offense could certainly undergo a change or two to help surround Jackson with some better players – with that in mind, take a look at these three potential free agent targets for the Ravens this offseason.
The first free-agent target for the Ravens is one that is coming off of a torn ACL suffered towards the beginning of this past season, defensive end Solomon Thomas. Not having lived up to his status as being the third overall pick in the 2017 draft by the San Francisco 49ers, it is quite clear that Thomas will be looking for a new home this offseason.
The Niners declined his fifth-year option, which would have guaranteed him a salary of $15.1 million for the ‘21 season, quite the overpay for a DE with six career sacks and a checkered health history. For the Ravens, a buy-low candidate on a short deal is exactly what could help this defense out, all the while helping save some cash.
While Thomas certainly has been a disappointment at this point in his career, he could be gotten on a cheap, prove-it deal that could even go for a second season. Thomas could replace Wolfe on the D-Line (even though Wolfe would be a cheaper bring-back option for BAL), and even though his early-season production would most likely be tied to a snap count due to working back from his ACL injury, his addition would help BAL shore up their depth while leaving money on the board for other needs.