Several Ravens players will need to make an impact this upcoming season because they will be in the final year of their contract.
Their performance could earn them a contract extension in Baltimore if they play well or looking for a new home if they falter.
Much of the focus will be on linebacker Tyus Bowers, a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. After a pair of underwhelming seasons, Bowser had his best performance in 2019.
He was second on the team with five sacks and also finished with 20 tackles, two passes defended, one forced fumble and had one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was impressed with Bowser's turnaround.
"This guy has been working like crazy ever since the day he got here," Harbaugh said. "You can see it paying off in the way he plays. He's playing defense, he's playing special teams. He's getting to the quarterback, he's playing the run exceptionally well, he knows the defense inside and out. To see him start to blossom like this has just been nothing but a joy. So keep building on that and become the great player we know he's going to be."
If Bowser continues to improve, he could put himself in position for a new deal, especially if he can boost the pass rush. Fellow linebacker Tim Williams, a third-round pick in 2017, was already jettisoned because of a lackluster performance.
Long-snapper Morgan Cox has been steadily consistent, but he is 35 and is a free agent after next season. The Ravens need to decide whether they might need to get younger at that position, but Cox has showed no signs of slowing down.
The Ravens signed wide receiver Willie Snead IV to a one-year contract extension in October worth $6 million. He had been in the final year of a two-year, $7 million deal he signed in 2018.
Last season, Snead finished with 31 receptions for 339 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, He was also an effective blocker for the Ravens record-setting run defense. His long-term future could hinge on players the Ravens add in the draft or sign via free agency.
Cornerback Brandon Carr is signed through the 2020 season, but his future in Baltimore remains uncertain. The team would save about $6 million with the salary cap by releasing him.
Defensive end Chris Wormley, a third round pick (74th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft, has also put together a solid career in Baltimore. Last season, he recorded 33 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two passes defender, Will he have enough production in 2020 to earn a new deal?
One player sitting pretty is left tackle Ronnie Stanley. He has established himself as one of the top offensive lineman in the NFL and made the 2020 Pro Bowl. The Ravens will have to do plenty of negotiating for Stanley to ink a new deal because he will be one of the most coveted free agents in 2021.
"When you really look at Ronnie’s game, he has improved in everything he does. I think a big part of that is improving every aspect of his preparation," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "The knowledge he’s accrued over the last couple of years, he’s a very intelligent young man. He’s really putting it to use. His consistency this year has been outstanding, which makes him deserving of that honor.
"He’s a constant work in progress, but run, pass, communication, assignment, technique, everything, he’s just really pushing the envelope every day on. So, it’s really showing on the field, and he’s a very important, key contributor to what we do.”