Ravens Defensive Line Faces Key Departures
The Ravens have traditionally been stellar against the run because of their stout defensive lineman.
Last season, Baltimore allowed just 93.4 yards rushing per game, which ranked fifth in the NFL.
However, the Ravens have several key playmakers that are unrestricted free agents and could test the market, including Michael Pierce, Justin Ellis, Domata Peko and Jihad Ward.
The Ravens signed defensive tackle Brandon Williams to five-year, $54 million contract in 2018, and that might preclude them from spending big money on another lineman. Pierce could command the highest payday among the free-agent defensive tackles, but his preference is to remain in Baltimore.
"This is the only family I've known," said Pierce, who finished with 35 tackles, a half-sack and one fumble recovery last season. "I would love for it to continue that way, but the NFL offseason is a beast in itself. So, you have to kind of take it how it goes. It's out of my hands at this point, but yes, I would always love, love to stay and be a part of this amazing group. They have a strong, strong group coming back next year, obviously, with Lamar [Jackson] at the head, so I'd love to be back. If not, I'll roll with the punches. But, I just have to get better.”
The Ravens signed Peko and Ellis prior to their Week 11 matchup with the Houston Texans to help offset the injuries to Pierce and Daylon Mack. Both Peko (14 tackles) and Ellis (six tackles) played well down the stretch.
Peko, 35, has not decided if he will return to the NFL for his 15th season. Ellis, who spent the last five seasons with the Raiders, could re-sign with Baltimore for the right price.
Ward also impressed the Ravens last season. He finished with seven tackles, including a sack, and two fumble recoveries in 11 games.
"This guy is a great fit in our defense." Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said about Ward. "We liked him coming out of the draft. I remember our scouts liked him and our coaches liked him. I liked him. And then all of a sudden from a turn of events, he's sitting there staring you in the face, and then you're like, ‘Well, is he going to work for us?’ Man, he came up aces.”