Earlier this week, the Ravens touted their defensive line as the most improved position group through the first wave of free agency. They even felt comfortable enough to trade rotational piece Chris Wormley to the Steelers.
Now, the defensive line has more questions than answers.
The team confirmed early Friday morning, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic originally reported, they were unable to come to a deal with defensive lineman Michael Brockers over concerns because of a physical. More specifically, there were concerns over the status of Brockers’ left ankle.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ravens team doctors were unable to examine Brockers themselves and instead had to rely on the work of independent doctors.
During a conference call with reporters Thursday, new acquisition Calais Campbell said he had to go to the Mayo Clinic to receive his physical. He called the process tricky.
Brockers quickly signed a very similar deal to the one he signed with Baltimore to stay in Los Angeles with the Rams just hours after the Ravens deal fell through. His new deal is a three-year deal worth $31.5 million.
So now, the Ravens are left with the difficult reality that a handful of potential targets are no longer viable options due to the first wave of defensive linemen having signed elsewhere. They also shipped off Wormley and a 2021 seventh-round pick for a 2021 fifth-round pick, further depleting the defensive line.
Michael Pierce, a talented run-stopping defender, left during free agency to sign with the Vikings, too.
Baltimore now has Campbell, Brandon Williams, Justin Ellis, Jihad Ward and Daylon Mack on the depth chart at defensive line. Not only do the Ravens need more depth at the position, they also need another starter.
While the Ravens have the 28th pick in the draft, including seven picks in the first four rounds, the front seven’s needs now have been thrust into the spotlight. Before, an argument could’ve been made that the Ravens should devote resources elsewhere: inside linebacker, interior offensive line, wide receiver, or perhaps an edge rusher.
Now, the defensive line, and front seven as a whole, is once again the team’s biggest need. While it’s not necessary to address in the first round specifically, the Ravens are now almost guaranteed to make a handful of picks in the front seven for next month’s draft.
The Ravens could dip their toes into the free agent market once again with their newfound cap space and make a run at a few veterans still left on the market. They could also go after an edge player, or an inside linebacker instead, to help cover up an additional need before the draft.
The Ravens had a plan entering free agency, and quite simply, it went as well as they expected.
Now, though, the Ravens are left with a questionable physical and a handful of questions to answer about the future of the defensive line.
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