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2020 Baltimore Ravens Offseason Tracker

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13 hours ago, diamondbull424 said:

Whats more the notion of mentioning “what is realistic” doesn’t hold much weight when we look at the Ravens history. Daryl Smith was the last big FA addition at the ILB position and he was a cap casualty of the Jaguars. Show me precedence of us signing FA ILBs vs us attacking the position with UDFA and/or draft picks.

Speaking of precedence... When the last time the Ravens signed the top edge rusher in FA? Dumervil was their last big edge player, but if we're talking precedence, he was signed the same year as Daryl Smith. huh. 

I'd love Clowney on this team but I'm trying to be realistic. The Ravens have some FA money but not a ton. The usually use it to plug holes in the starting roster, not make a big FA splash. 

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I think the whole ILB discussion comes down to what you are looking for out of the position. 

If you are happy with what the combination of what Bynes/Fort did this season (which was serviceable, but largely not a plus aspect of the defense), then a mid round LB and a cheap vet FA is probably enough investment at the position to get that done.

To get the best chance of having a play maker at the position that will provide above average play, you'll either need to draft someone in the first 2 rounds or pay for it.

Drafting a mid round pick and expecting them to turn into KJ Wright or even Jordan Hicks is akin to picking a QB in the 4th round and expecting Kirk Cousins or Dak Prescott - sure it might happen, but the chances are pretty slim

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Josh Bynes turned in a Top 10-15 season for us at Mike. LJ Fort played good within his role. Chuck was a revelation for this defense, and thrived in a specialized moneybacker role. 

Sure there were some issues early on, but once the above players were injected into the system everything was fine. We didn't lose games as a result of their play, nor were their shortcomings exploited on a regular basis. 

Upgrading outright beyond the level of play we received down the stretch will be a pretty hard thing to do.

#1. It would require us to identify an off ball LB much better than Bynes- so in other words a nearing or bonafide Elite player(Top 5 - 10).

and

#2. Find a hybrid player better then Chuck Clark. 

 

So for requirement #1 we would either have to pry away someone like Bobby Wagner, Lavonte David, etc- by trade. And then accommodate the large contract/cap hit said player will bring. Or hit the jackpot once the NFL draft rolls around. 

Then for requirement #2, unless you want to go back to having a traditional LB wear the green dot(We all remember how fun that was), you'll have to find someone who can diagnose, cover, tackle, and just generally outperform Chuck Clark in every aspect of his specialized role within Wink's defense. And just how many players in the NFL are even capable of doing that? Jamal Adams? Derwin James? Harrison Smith?... cause Chuck Clark is better than the players on the hybrid tier below that like Adrian Phillips, Mark Barron, etc. He's significantly better than our own Anthony Levine- who isn't exactly a scrub within the role...

See what I mean? 

None of that is very realistic or practical.

 

What is realistic -

1. Resigning Josh Bynes- Beyond solid Vet that surprisingly gave us stretches of plus play off the street. Excels within and knows the system. Will come cheap, and benefits from being a part of a fluid core. 

2. Extending LJ Fort -Done.

3. Let Peanut walk.

4. Identify a run specialist that can upgrade our current level of impact against the rush in heavy packages. So while Bynes and Fort are solid, if Dont'a Hightower or someone hits the market and won't break the bank- that would make sense. Otaro Alaka projects as this type of player as well, could carve out a significant role even if we do sign an additional Vet.

5. Add to the pipeline through the draft(includes UDFA pool) and see how guys like Board and the previously mentioned Alaka look in Year 2 & 3.

 

It's pretty simple. We don't need to overextend ourselves in the draft or FA, for a position that has options in house and wasn't even a major weakness for us.

I'm guessing so many are calling for off ball LB help/upgrades because they're placing the majority of blame for our run defense lapses at the feet of our LB group. Which is somewhat misguided as things currently stand.

The main culprits of our run defense issues for the 2019 season were:

1. Tony Jefferson- Injured and then Replaced/Upgraded(Chuck Clark).

2. Young and Peanut's early struggles- Addressed through the Fort and Bynes additions. 

3. Issues against the rush from our OLB/EDGE group- X  Not a strength to begin with, and McPhee going down exasperated the issue. Jihard Ward was a slight improvement over the incumbents Ferguson & Judon. It was all always questionable though. No plus players in the bunch. 

4. DeShon Elliot injury-  Jefferson's injury paved the way for Chuck Clark, but it was a two fold move that also brought DeShon Elliot into the mix. We then lost Elliot one week after Jefferson, which forced Brandon Carr to take on safety role the majority of the time. He wasn't a sound player against the run at CB, and he carried that weakness over to Safety. Which we felt. A great example I think everyone remembers is Derrick Henry breaking Judon's tackle and then Brandon Carr failing to corral him when coming down in support.

 

So how to actually improve things- Significantly?

Pernell McPhee is an obvious resign candidate. He's a cheap option that will give us great returns and specifically shore up our run defense at EDGE. Then hopefully DeShon Elliot can stay healthy. He's a missile against the run and a tone setting hitter. Getting both of them back healthy will be huge.

It's reasonable to expect much better versions of guys like Fort, Thomas, Peters, Bowser, Ferguson, etc. It was either their 1st year in the system/with our team and/or they're young players that will naturally progress/improve as young players do. Tavon Young will come back too, and he's a little pit bull against the run.

From there, beyond the possible additions I already suggested(Early Down Thumper), it would be great if we could bring in another secure tackling Safety. I'm assuming Wink is going to want Clark in the box at a similar rate, and we can't rely on someone like Carr again on the back end should Elliot go down. Who knows if Carr and Levine will even be in house for 2020? Earl Thomas' health is no given either. We need some reliable versatile Safeties with impact(present and future), and insurance in mind. As long as we resign Bynes, Safety is a much bigger need than LB for my money. 

Identifying EDGE players that can handle the run will be key too. I'm sure we'll make a splash in FA, on top of possibly resigning McPhee and maybe even Ward(Harbaugh seems to like him) too. So adding someone like Calais Campbell would be amazing(If he's released). Finding someone through the draft that can make an impact will be important though. Yetur Gross-Matos would make a lot of sense. He's an upside rusher that's surprisingly being mocked within our range, but he's pretty strong against the run as well.

Don't forget we'll most likely be losing Michael Pierce too. So failing to bring in a sound DI replacement will have consequences, and potentially turn a big strength of ours(Nearly flawless interior rush defense) into a question mark. Brandon Williams alone is a better option than most teams have combined, and interior pass rush is a MUCH bigger need. Still don't want to fall too far behind there though. Luckily Vet NTs come pretty cheap, should it does become an issue.

 

We don't want to have a bunch of players new to the scheme, Rookies, and in general non ideal options- undertaking key roles within our defense. That's what hurt us last year. We want to avoid turnover where we don't need it. 

This looks ideal to me-

EDGE: +McPhee +Splash FA* +Rookies  /  - Judon

LB:  +Bynes +Bargain FA(optional) + Rookie  /  - Onwuasor

DI: +Splash FA* +Rookies

CB: +Rookie

S: +Rookies

*We aren't going to be able to make splash additions at both EDGE and DI. So whichever has the best option available is going to win out. And then the other one will simply get a routine signing. 

 

BTW This potential FA crop could go from looking good to super suspect if just a couple names drops off it-

EDGE: Jadeveon Clowney, Shaq Barrett, Yannick Ngakoue, Robert Quinn, Dante Fowler, Matt Judon, Calais Campbell*, Leonard Floyd*, Bud Dupree

DI: Chris Jones, Shelby Harris, Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, Timmy Jernigan, Jordan Phillips, Michael Brockers, Arik Armstead, Marcell Dareus*, Leonard Williams

*Possible Release Candidate 

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Here's a good video on what LJ Fort has brought too.

 

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i'm not confident Bynes and Fort can be counted on to have the same impact next season ie. the same level of play.

they were jobless for a reason i guess.

can't fix everything in an offseason though so it would def benefit the team to sign Bynes for another year or 2.

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1 hour ago, berlin calling said:

i'm not confident Bynes and Fort can be counted on to have the same impact next season ie. the same level of play.

they were jobless for a reason i guess.

can't fix everything in an offseason though so it would def benefit the team to sign Bynes for another year or 2.

Fort is a good special teams player, that's why he was extended. Had less to do with his LB ability. He's more like a McClelland type, can fill in at LB but you are in trouble if he's starting. 

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4 hours ago, DreamKid said:

Josh Bynes turned in a Top 10-15 season for us at Mike.

Did he though?  A top 10-15 LB doesn't frequently play less than 50% of his teams defensive snaps if he's healthy.

Josh Bynes         43
72%
37
60%
54
75%
  25
37%
46
61%
24
39%
21
39%
28
49%
42
56%
28
47%
24
40%
29
59%
401

Guys who actually are in that 10-15 range at ILB in the league play almost every defensive snap (i.e. Jordan Hicks - 100%, Joe Schobert all but 7 snaps, Cory Littleton all but 55 snaps)

I think people have overrated how good he played because of how poor the defense was in the first 4 weeks, and the early games of Bynes starting coincided with a bunch of other things that made the defense much better

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9 minutes ago, drd23 said:

Did he though?  A top 10-15 LB doesn't frequently play less than 50% of his teams defensive snaps if he's healthy.

That's not the best way to look at it. It's to our advantage that we didn't have to play him so much. How often are we even in base, or even fielding 2 'true' off ball LBs for that matter? 15-20% of the time? Wink is going to sub out a LB for Clark/Elliot/Levine anytime he can. And Fort was in a platoon with Peanut at Will. On a per snap basis, I think it's more than fair to say Bynes turned in a top 10-15 year. PFF had him #6 overall at LB with a 79.3 grade. I certainly don't think he's the 6th best off ball in the league, but the level of play he gave us is definitely flying under the radar imo. And it's not like this level of play is an anomaly for him. He's always been a good player. He's just had issues staying healthy, which is why us being able to manage his workload is a positive.

27 minutes ago, drd23 said:

I think people have overrated how good he played because of how poor the defense was in the first 4 weeks, and the early games of Bynes starting coincided with a bunch of other things that made the defense much better

I don't get how we would be forced to overrate him specifically, because of the defenses' overall improvement? He's either performing or he's not. I don't credit him in any major way for our defensive turnaround, but 100% he outplayed Peanut, and the last couple years' version of Mosley we were unfortunately treated to at Mike. All I care about is impact per snap, so while maybe the 'prestige' of his play is lessened or something because he wasn't a full time player. He still delivered in ways others couldn't within the role asked/required of him.

There's no reason to force a true LB onto the field 100% of the time if you don't have to. Bynes is strong in coverage for a LB, but he isn't better than Clark. He's a solid blitzer too, but he's not better than Fort and Peanut. So why would Wink force him onto the field? How many LBs in the league can actually justify every down roles? Schobert and Littleton are essentially coverage LBs and still our TEs worked them. Unless you have a true Unicorn(As Dan likes to say) like Kuechly or something, LB by committee just makes the most sense in this modern match up league. So I'm going to be all over a player like Josh Bynes that is solid in every phase, smart, and capable of generating splash plays at a decent clip- all on a bargain price tag.

It just doesn't make sense to toss money at off ball LBs anymore. Any smart defense is fielding 3 safeties the majority of the time, and the odds of being able to find one do it all LB are exceptionally low. Pay for specialized role players and put them in position to succeed. 

We need to address the position. Bynes and Fort are in their 30s. Board doesn't seem like he's going to last in the league. And Alaka is unproven. What we don't need to do is overpay a FA LB and then field them at a rate where we're opening ourselves up to repeated strategic counters or generally just putting our defense unnecessarily at disadvantage. Nor do we need to burn early round picks on the least important position within the defense. 

I think anyone expecting a splash signing/draft pick at ILB is in for a let down. Bank on DI and EDGE being the focus for both FA and the draft. And don't sleep on IOL.

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8 hours ago, berlin calling said:

i'm not confident Bynes and Fort can be counted on to have the same impact next season ie. the same level of play.

they were jobless for a reason i guess.

can't fix everything in an offseason though so it would def benefit the team to sign Bynes for another year or 2.

Josh Bynes in 2018 was actually one of PFFs top rated ILBs with the Cardinals. He went unsigned because his play at his advanced age had many assume it was a fluke... but now we’re looking at two years in a row where he’s rated at a 75.5 (2018) and 75.9 (2019) respectively. He’s older so their might be some drop off to be had at any point, but he’s now established an obvious pattern of top 15 ILB play in this league. FWIW in 2017 he was at a 69.9 rating.

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2 hours ago, diamondbull424 said:

Josh Bynes in 2018 was actually one of PFFs top rated ILBs with the Cardinals. He went unsigned because his play at his advanced age had many assume it was a fluke... but now we’re looking at two years in a row where he’s rated at a 75.5 (2018) and 75.9 (2019) respectively. He’s older so their might be some drop off to be had at any point, but he’s now established an obvious pattern of top 15 ILB play in this league. FWIW in 2017 he was at a 69.9 rating.

And yet he was given his outright release by the Cardinals after 2018, despite being on a very cheap contract. You forgot to mention that. I do give credence to PFF grades, but sometimes they fly in the face of how GMs evaluate players. He was unsigned and signed for 900k with the Ravens. He is a two-down LB who can play the run well. I'll give him credit for that. He was useful to us because all of our other LBs sucked against the run. 

It's actually intstructive looking at the PFF free agent LB rankings. Bynes last two years are rated higher in total than Littleton, Schobert, Jamie Collins, Blake Martinez, and Nick Kwiatkoski. And yet, Bynes is rated below all of then in terms of their free agency ranker. Bynes age is pretty similar to Collins and Schobert (and Trevarthen, who is ranked just below Bynes), but Littleton, Martinez, and Kwiatkoski are all younger and presumably have upside. 

I just think it opens up the defense to have a ILB who is versatile and is good in coverage and against the run. Having a one-dimensional player like Bynes might score well on PFF, but is more restricting than a 3-down LB. The green dot should ideally go to a ILB who can communicate to DL and secondary, but Bynes is taken off the field in passing situations.

For instance if you look at snap counts for the 4 last regular season games (excluding PIT), Bynes is playing less than 50% snaps on defense. It's easier to score higher when you are only put in situations when you will succeed. If he played 100% of snaps his PFF grade would tank due to his coverage. 

I will admit your arguments for Bynes have made me look more favorably on him.   

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I mean, I'm not putting all my eggs in the Bynes basket. He's going to be 31 for this season and regardless of the defensive set there's always a LB on the field. And usually playing in a fairly important part of the field - the middle. I don't think the Ravens need a "true" every-down linebacker, but someone that can be on the field in the nickel and dime sets that isn't liability covering what needs to be covered would be nice. That's been a sore spot for Baltimore's defense the past few years. Not sure a player like that requires a high-end draft capital investment but I wouldn't be opposed to it either if it's someone like Queen. 

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FWIW, Bynes' best aspect is his coverage ability. I don't want anyone to get confused about that. He's the best MILB we've had in a long time in that regard. Great instincts and feel for zone coverage, consistently disrupts passing windows, and something Ken McKusick harped on and praised all season for Bynes was his ability to make plays on the ball going backwards or over his head. He's athletic enough to stay in phase for pure man or match zone concepts too. Which was an achilles heel for Mosley.

Makes sense to add young bodies to the LB room, but hopefully we'll have Bynes in there for the 2020 season too.

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10 hours ago, DreamKid said:

That's not the best way to look at it. It's to our advantage that we didn't have to play him so much. How often are we even in base, or even fielding 2 'true' off ball LBs for that matter? 15-20% of the time? Wink is going to sub out a LB for Clark/Elliot/Levine anytime he can. 

Directly contradicted by the fact that Wink played Mosley for virtually 100% of the snaps in 2018 (except when he was injured for a game). 

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It just doesn't make sense to toss money at off ball LBs anymore. Any smart defense is fielding 3 safeties the majority of the time, and the odds of being able to find one do it all LB are exceptionally low. Pay for specialized role players and put them in position to succeed. 

If there was no such thing as no-huddle offense, I'd agree with you. But using subs and specialized role players can easily be exploited by smart offenses. Are we trying to build a championship team, or one that can just get by against crappy teams? 

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I think anyone expecting a splash signing/draft pick at ILB is in for a let down. Bank on DI and EDGE being the focus for both FA and the draft. And don't sleep on IOL.

The argument is to sign a decent 3-down ILB in FA so we can free up our resources to focus on DL, Edge, IOL in the draft. 

I don't see any of the FA ILBs being that expensive, TBH. 

The other option could be to target Kyle Van Noy, who can play inside and outside, is good at coverage and pass rush, and would be a swiss army knife in the front 7. 

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5 minutes ago, DreamKid said:

FWIW, Bynes' best aspect is his coverage ability. I don't want anyone to get confused about that. He's the best MILB we've had in a long time in that regard. Great instincts and feel for zone coverage, consistently disrupts passing windows, and something Ken McKusick harped on and praised all season for Bynes was his ability to make plays on the ball going backwards or over his head. He's athletic enough to stay in phase for pure man or match zone concepts too. Which was an achilles heel for Mosley.

He's so good in coverage that the coaches took him out during passing situations, despite doing the exact opposite with Mosley one year ago. Got it. 

EDIT: Also he's so good in pass defense, the Cardinals cut him despite him costing just $1 mil against the cap. Makes sense. 

Edited by AngusMcFife

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It's hard to get a read on the Jags' situation. We know Dareus is gone, but even their hardcore fans aren't sure of how this thing is going to play out. 

 

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