The Baltimore Ravens have now missed the postseason in two straight years, and the roster has yet to improve. Joe Flacco regressed, Steve Smith retired and the defense is an aging unit that lacks playmakers. With just $13.8 million in projected cap space, they don’t have much money to spend, either.
Fortunately, there will be plenty of low-cost options out there who can help them in Year 1. On defense, there will be pass rushers and secondary help available, all of which the Ravens should explore.
Here are five names they should target when free agency starts on March 9.
Bruce KluckhohnBruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
CB Prince Amukamara (Jaguars)
The Ravens need help at cornerback, but they can’t afford the top names in A.J. Bouye and Stephon Gilmore. Amukamara proved he can stay healthy and play at a relatively high level this past season in Jacksonville, and he’s ready for a long-term deal. The Ravens should give him that and bolster the secondary for years to come. He’s not going to lock down No. 1 receivers on a weekly basis, but the Ravens can find someone to do that in a deep draft class. Instead, Amukamara would give them a nice starting point alongside standout rookie Tavon Young.
SS Barry Church (Cowboys)
The Ravens landed Eric Weddle last offseason after his messy split from the Chargers. He thrived this past season, but Lardarius Webb struggled in his move to safety. Church is a good counterpart to Weddle, playing closer to the line of scrimmage as an extra linebacker who can blow up the run in the box. He would bring a much-needed physicality factor to Baltimore while also providing decent coverage ability against the pass.
Getty ImagesTom Pennington
WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Vikings)
The Ravens don’t have many playmakers on offense. Mike Wallace is fast, Breshaud Perriman has potential, and Steve Smith is gone. Patterson is a weapon who can play at multiple spots on offense, from running back to wide receiver. He’s still unpolished after four years in the NFL, but he has big-play potential and can impact the game on special teams, too. The Vikings may not let him hit free agency, but if he does, he could be an affordable option for Baltimore.
RT Ricky Wagner (Ravens)
Wagner was one of the best tackles in the league last season, and he’s going to make a lot of money in free agency. The Ravens would be wise to make a run at him before that can happen, aiming to lock him up long-term. At 27 years old, he’s still in his prime and has only made $2.3 million in four years. It’s time for the Ravens to reward him with a lucrative extension, one that will likely make him one of the highest-paid tackles in the league.
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
OLB Nick Perry (Packers)
The Ravens had trouble rushing the passer last season, and it’s a major weakness of the defense. Perry is a younger option who also won’t break the bank like Chandler Jones or Melvin Ingram, which works in Baltimore’s favor. The Ravens don’t have much money to spend in free agency, especially with several of their own players hitting the open market, but Perry won’t prevent them from signing others. He can add athleticism on the edge and generate pressure from the outside linebacker position, which will also help the secondary.