Jackson, the league’s MVP in 2019, is all about big performances against weaker teams. But there have been too many instances since Jackson arrived in 2018 where the Ravens’ offense hasn’t shown up in meaningful games.
Enter Kevin Zeitler, a veteran guard capable of helping the Ravens find that balance.
Kevin Zeitler will now block for Lamar Jackson
Kevin Zeitler is on the move once again.
A first-round pick of the Bengals in 2012, Zeitler will now suit up for his fourth team in nearly a decade. The veteran offensive lineman agreed to terms with the Ravens on a three-year deal worth $22.5 million.
According to ESPN, Zeitler — who just turned 31 on March 8 — will receive $16 million in guaranteed money. Baltimore signed Zeitler now because the New York Giants cut him last week.
Zeitler is expected to immediately start at right guard and keep Lamar Jackson standing. This move may not pop off as sexy the way that the Aaron Jones signing in Green Bay did, but the Ravens needed someone with Kevin Zeitler’s talent and experience.
Zeitler is exactly what the Ravens needed
The Baltimore Ravens had a hole at the right guard position, and they picked the perfect player to fix the leak.
Ravens legend Marshal Yanda retired after the 2019 season, and the team didn’t find a worthy replacement last year. Tyre Phillips, a rookie from Mississippi State, impressed in spurts but his future could be at right tackle.
Kevin Zeitler, however, is a proven and durable player at right guard. Zeitler won’t be Yanda — no one will — but he is exactly what Lamar Jackson and the Ravens needed.
This will be a new experience for Zeitler in more ways than one. Zeitler has never blocked for an athletic quarterback who likes to run as much as Jackson does.
Zeitler also has added incentive to help the Ravens win a Super Bowl. Although he’s played in the postseason before, Zeitler doesn’t have a playoff win to his name just yet.
What else must the Ravens do in free agency?
The Baltimore Ravens have their right guard of the present, but they still have other holes to address in the coming weeks.
Spending so much money on Kevin Zeitler might take the Ravens out of bidding wars for high-profile receivers. A lesser name, someone like Cleveland’s Rashard Higgins, makes more sense now than JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Baltimore could also choose to sign an older receiver to a one-year deal. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Golden Tate are all veteran wideouts who likely won’t demand significant contracts in free agency.
Baltimore also needs to add a pass-rusher and more depth in the secondary, although the Ravens can focus on those holes in the draft. The Ravens hold the 27th overall pick in the draft after losing in the AFC divisional round last season.