What the Baltimore Ravens’ Plan of Attack Must Be for the 2022 NFL Offseason

It was quite the 2021 season for the Baltimore Ravens. Availability was the biggest storyline for John Harbaugh’s squad. The Ravens were one of the NFL‘s most injured teams throughout the season. Ultimately, the absences were just too much to overcome.

Baltimore finished the season with an 8-9 record, which is not what the team had in mind heading into the season. With elite talent on both sides of the ball, the Ravens had Super Bowl aspirations. However, Baltimore couldn’t withstand all the hurdles thrown its way.

In the 2022 NFL offseason, general manager Eric DeCosta and the front should focus on re-tooling. There’s more than enough talent on the roster to compete when healthy. Staying healthy was just easier said than done in 2021.

Here’s how the Ravens should attack the upcoming offseason.

Biggest offseason questions

After a disappointing 2021 season, the Baltimore Ravens head into the offseason wondering how they can turn things around in 2022.

The media may cast doubts about whether or not this team has what it takes to get to a Super Bowl. However, the Ravens undoubtedly believe in the talent on their roster. Baltimore has pieces in place to contend again in 2022.

Coaching could be as much of a concern, if not bigger. John Harbaugh proved his worth in 2021. He’s a player’s coach. He has the utmost trust in his players, and vice versa. However, some changes could be necessary for his coaching staff.

Greg Roman has been the Ravens’ offensive coordinator since 2019. Baltimore boasted the league’s most prolific offense in 2019, ranking second in yardage and first in scoring. A potent rushing attack has spearheaded this offense over the years. However, Roman has failed to evolve as a play-caller.

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale put together a decent season, considering all the players missing from his unit. He has had some lapses in judgment in terms of schemes, though. A perfect example was openly acknowledging that he wouldn’t utilize double coverage on Bengals wideout Ja’Marr Chase.

Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson is handling his own contract negotiations. The former MVP is heading into the final year of his rookie contract. Has he done enough to warrant a massive long-term contract? The only answer is yes.

Top free agency decisions

Key free agents: Calais Campbell (EDGE), Brandon Williams (DT), Justin Houston (EDGE), Jimmy Smith (CB), Anthony Averett (CB), Sammy Watkins (WR), Patrick Ricard (FB)

General manager Eric DeCosta will have some interesting decisions to make in free agency, as multiple key contributors will be hitting the market.

Most of the tough decisions will come on the defensive side of the ball. Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, and Justin Houston are all unrestricted free agents. The Ravens likely won’t be spending the capital to keep all three around.

Williams has been a staple in the middle of Baltimore’s defense over the past several seasons, but he’s no longer the same player. Pro Football Focus gave the defensive tackle a grade of 44.9 for the 2021 season. Houston brought a veteran presence, but it’s unclear if the two sides will want to run it back for another season.

Campbell is 35 years old and could be contemplating retirement. The Ravens probably want to get younger up front, which could impact his decision. Cornerback Jimmy Smith, a staple in the secondary, has also talked about the possibility of calling it quits after 2021.

Averett is another guy who probably won’t be back in 2022. The Alabama product filled in admirably with all of the injuries in the secondary. Teams targeted him often, but he held his own for the most part. With Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters on the roster, it could be difficult to pay him, too.

On offense, Baltimore could do without Sammy Watkins. The front office signed him in the 2021 offseason, but his impact has been minimal.

Patrick Ricard should be the highest priority on the list. The Ravens are a run-first football team, and the 3-time Pro Bowl fullback plays a significant role in the offense’s success.

2022 NFL Draft needs and potential targets

Top picks: First round (own), second round (own), third round (own), third round (compensatory)

Draft needs: OT, OG, LB, EDGE, DT

The Ravens have developed a reputation for having one of the best front offices in the NFL, especially when it comes to scouting talent. Former general manager Ozzie Newsome put together some solid draft classes, and Eric DeCosta has picked up where he left off.

It’s hard to fully assess Baltimore’s roster with all the injuries. However, some needs are more glaring than others, including the offensive line. This position group has been an issue for the Ravens’ offense throughout the season.

All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley played just one regular-season game. As a result, John Harbaugh has used Alejandro Villanueva, Patrick Mekari, and Tyre Phillips to fill the void. Baltimore traded Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs before the 2021 season. The team needs another full-time starter at tackle. None of the other guys instill much confidence.

The 2022 NFL Draft features a solid group of big men. Minnesota’s Daniel Faalele could be an intriguing prospect. He stands 6-foot-9 and 380 pounds. He hasn’t been playing football for long, but his tape shows he could be a potential starter in the NFL. The Ravens should come away from the draft with multiple offensive linemen.

Given the potential departures on the defensive line, it would be wise for Baltimore to address that position early in the draft as well. The class is top-heavy, but Georgia’s Jordan Davis and Texas A&M’s DeMarvin Leal project as first-rounders.

Expect the Ravens to address all of their positions of need at some point in the draft. They’ll likely continue to use the best player available approach.

1 player on each side of the ball who must step up in 2022

With so many injuries on both sides of the ball, John Harbaugh and the Ravens got a chance to look at some of the lesser-known players on its roster. Some of those players won’t be back, but Baltimore will hope to see some of them take a step forward in 2022.

Surely, the Ravens would like to see a few players improve on their 2021 seasons. Rashod Bateman is one of those guys. Eric DeCosta selected Bateman with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Minnesota Golden Gophers wideout suffered a groin injury in training camp, which caused him to miss the first five games of the regular season.

Bateman has appeared in 11 games as a rookie, catching 44 passes for 493 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers aren’t awful, considering the time he missed. However, the Ravens must be hoping he can develop into a game-changer in year two. If Baltimore opens up the playbook more in 2022, that could happen.

On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale needs more out of his linebackers. Patrick Queen has shown flashes of greatness at times. His running mate, Malik Harrison, needs to step up in 2022.

The Ravens selected Harrison in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. The inside linebacker opened the season as started. However, he suffered a setback after being shot in the calf.

The former Buckeyes standout has recorded 69 tackles and three tackles for loss in his first two seasons combined. Harrison will need to continue to develop and prove he can be an NFL starter.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference