If you saw the article on the defense, these categories won’t be a surprise to you, but if not, please take a look to understand this division:
Young Producers (7): Mark Andrews, Bradley Bozeman, Marquise Brown, Orlando Brown, JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Lamar Jackson
The 7 Ravens in this category (Matt Skura was an 8th) led to a historic outperformance of the cap by the 2019 Ravens offense. The offense remained inexpensive in 2020, but that will change over the next 2 seasons as a much higher percentage of cap will be spent on the offense.
The 2018 draft class (Andrews, Bozeman, Orlando Brown, Lamar Jackson) and UDFA Gus Edwards are all entering year 4. As these players mature onto their second contracts, the Ravens will need another bumper crop of young players in the next 2 drafts to maintain a good relationship between offensive quality and cap cost.
Developmental (11): Miles Boykin, Ben Bredeson, Trystan Colon-Castillo, Devin Duvernay, Justice Hill, Tyler Huntley, Patrick Mekari, Nick Moore, Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers, James Proche
These players are all still on their rookie deal, but something is holding them back from consistent performance, a starting role, or both. We hope that most, if not all, of these players will emerge to be young producers quickly. In truth, some are running out of time to do so. Since this group is critical, let’s take a look individually to see why I have tagged them as I have and what each needs to do to move up:
- Boykin: He’s been an exceptional run blocker, but has thus far failed to help the Ravens threaten more of the field offensively, which is essential to their overall success.
- Bredeson: He played well in 41 scored snaps in 2020 and should be part of the competition at center in 2021.
- Trystan Colon-Castillo: The Ravens activated him to the 53 to protect him when it became clear he would be selected from their practice squad. He was OK in 2 games (Pit and Cin) and will also compete for the center job in 2021.
- Devin Duvernay: He contributed as a receiver, gunner, and punt/kickoff return specialist. After 11 weeks he was averaging 8.7 YPT, but he was targeted just 3 times for 2 yards in the last 7 games (including playoffs).
- Hill: He has found a niche as a gunner on special teams, but he is at a crossroads in terms of offensive contributions with just 12 carries and 5 catches in 2020. It’s possible Ingram’s departure, or an injury could provide him more playing time..
- Mekari: Aggregate grade was a D at guard, C at center, and a B+ in a half at RT. That effectively excludes his snap issues at C. He’ll compete for the starting C role with important versatility bonus points.
- Moore: He has an important job and we know very little about him other than the Ravens feel comfortable with him replacing their All-Pro long snapper.
- Phillips: His aggregate score at each of RG and RT translates to a D. I don’t believe the Ravens will slot him as the primary backup at RT, but it’s not clear if he’ll get his next chance either by winning a job or due to injury. An offseason of both positional coaching and strength/weight training would be an excellent investment.
- Powers: Ben is on the verge of the young producer category after winning the RG spot and starting the final 9 game (616 snaps). He outperformed Mekari in about 50 fewer snaps. He may face a challenge to start at RG in 2021, but he begins as the incumbent.
- Proche: The Ravens deactivated him late in the season as a punt returner with little offensive justification to have him on the game day roster. Of 3 targets, 2 were pick-6s by the Steelers.
Veterans Playing for Market Value (8): Nick Boyle, DJ Fluker*, Sam Koch, Patrick Ricard, Willie Snead*, Ronnie Stanley, Eric Tomlinson*, Justin Tucker
A chunk of the 2021 cap is being spent here. The Ravens are in an unusual position of having just 3 UFAs (marked with a *) on offense, a stark contrast to the defense.
Boyle will be entering the final year of his contract, but his play is so integral to Roman’s offense, I don’t see him as a potential cut, even for $5.5M of savings. In fact, he’s a potential extension to create cap room. (Edit: Boyle has been extended since this was written)
Veteran Cap/Value Concerns (0): The closest thing the Ravens have to a veteran contract on offense where the player underperformed might be Nick Boyle. That’s an indication of extreme cap efficiency.
Mark Ingram was in this category at midseason, but was released last week.
Transitional (17): Jake Breeland, Dez Bryant*, Deon Cain, Sean Culkin, Parker Ehinger, Greg Mancz, Trace McSorley, Jordan Mills, Chris Moore*, Jaylon Moore, RJ Prince, Matt Skura*, Andre Smith, Johnny Townsend, Antoine Wesley, Ty’son Williams, Eli Wolf.
There are no obvious contributors to the 2021 Ravens in this group, but TEs Breeland, Culkin, and Wolf may compete for a TE spot. Matt Skura could also return as a backup lineman or compete for the starting center role.
Special thanks to Brian McFarland, to whose contract details I referred frequently while writing these pieces.