NFL Free Agency: Ranking the 5 Players the Baltimore Ravens Must Target

The 2021 NFL season certainly did not go the way the Baltimore Ravens had envisioned. John Harbaugh’s squad battled a great deal of adversity, mainly due to insanely bad luck with injuries. Those losses were too much to overcome, and Baltimore finished with an 8-9 record.

The Ravens now look ahead to 2022, when they hope to turn things around and become a Super Bowl contender again. General manager Eric DeCosta and the front office must win the offseason for that to happen. Baltimore has just under $9.8 million in cap space to make some moves.

With several glaring holes to address, the Ravens should be looking at these five players in NFL free agency.

The Ravens could pursue Trent Brown and D.J. Jones in NFL free agency
Trent Brown of the New England Patriots in action against the Tennessee Titans | Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; D.J. Jones of the San Francisco 49ers looks on while facing the LA Chargers | Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

5. DT D.J. Jones, San Francisco 49ers

According to ESPN‘s Jamison Hensley, general manager Eric DeCosta wants to get younger on the defensive line. Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams are unrestricted free agents. The latter is unlikely to return, especially given his price tag.

D.J. Jones enjoyed a breakout campaign with the San Francisco 49ers in 2021. The 27-year-old defensive tackle recorded 56 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, and two forced fumbles in his fifth season out of Ole Miss. The 2017 sixth-rounder has taken massive strides in his development.

Jones excels at stopping the run, which would solidify a strength the Ravens already have. He’ll add some much-needed interior pass rush, though. If Baltimore can pry him away from the Niners, it would be a huge step in the right direction for the defense.

4. S Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs

Tyrann Mathieu’s name has come up a lot as a player the Ravens should pursue in NFL free agency. Baltimore finished dead last in pass defense in 2021, giving up 278.9 yards per game and 31 passing touchdowns on the season. Injuries played a major role in the team’s struggles, but the secondary could also use an upgrade.

Starting free safety DeShon Elliott will also be an unrestricted free agent. If he doesn’t return, the Ravens would have a massive void to fill. Mathieu is a player who could fit perfectly in Baltimore. Even at 29 years old, he’d be an upgrade over Elliott. The Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowler would bring versatility and veteran experience.

The Honey Badger is a ball-hawk and could help form a no-fly zone in the secondary, as long as Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey return healthy. Improving the pass defense would go a long way to returning to a Super Bowl-caliber defense.

3. CB Kyle Fuller, Denver Broncos

Kyle Fuller struggled in his lone season with the Denver Broncos. Vic Fangio expected him to be a key piece of a dominant defense, but Fuller failed to live up to expectations. Just because things didn’t work out in Denver doesn’t mean the veteran cornerback can’t help the Ravens defense.

Fuller is a Baltimore native, and returning home could give him somewhat of a fresh start. The Ravens expect to have Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey back 100%. Fuller would provide the secondary much-needed depth. Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young struggled to stay on the field in 2021.

Before joining the Broncos, Fuller was a legitimate starting corner for the Chicago Bears. The two-time Pro Bowler excelled in coverage and could also assist in run defense. He doesn’t need to be the star in Baltimore. If he can thrive situationally, the Ravens defense could take a leap in 2022.

2. OT Trent Brown, New England Patriots

The Ravens have several dire needs heading into NFL free agency, but the offensive line might be the biggest. The 2021 season was an up-and-down year for Greg Roman’s offense. The offensive line’s inconsistency was evident.

The front office traded Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs after the 2020 season. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley suffered a season-ending injury in 2020 and re-aggravated it in the season opener. The Ravens sorely missed both guys. Veteran Alejandro Villanueva filled in, but he struggled mightily in pass protection.

Trent Brown is just the kind of player Baltimore needs. At 6-foot-8, 380 pounds, the New England Patriots tackle is massive. Brown has excellent power at the point of attack and elite footwork for the position. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 77.6 for the season. The Ravens must protect Lamar Jackson, and adding a player of this caliber would be doing that.

1. LB De’Vondre Campbell, Green Bay Packers

The Baltimore Ravens need to make improving their defensive front a priority in the offseason. De’Vondre Campbell should be near the top of their wish list in NFL free agency. The Green Bay Packers linebacker took a significant leap forward in his sixth season.

Campbell registered 146 tackles, five pass defenses, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles in 2021. He was one of the most consistent linebackers in the league, earning his first All-Pro selection. The Packers would be wise to bring him back, but they’re not in the best situation financially. This could open the door for Baltimore.

The Ravens need to upgrade their linebacking corps. Patrick Queen’s upside is through the roof, but Malik Harrison has some holes in his game. Campbell is an all-around player who can also help defend the pass, which Baltimore struggled with throughout the year. Adding a reliable player to the middle of the defense could do wonders as new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald looks to right the ship.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference and contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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