“I would think of him as the best long snapper in Baltimore Ravens history,” DeCosta said at his season-ending news conference.
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta acknowledged Monday that “there may be turnover” with four of the team’s top outside linebackers set to hit free agency in mid-March.
Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee are all pending unrestricted free agents and will be free to sign with another team if they don’t reach an agreement on a new deal with the Ravens before the free agency period begins March 17. Jihad Ward, who appeared in 10 regular-season games and both playoff games, is also a pending free agent.
“We were fortunate, we were six-deep this year and we had a stable of guys and we could roll different guys out based on the teams that we were playing,” DeCosta said at his season-ending news conference. “We love that versatility, we love the fact that we had 12 legitimate pieces in the front seven this year that we could roll out on game day, in terms of defensive line and outside linebackers.
“We may not have that this year. We may have some turnover on the roster; we understand that. Again, the salary cap sometimes dictates the players that you can have on the team.”
DeCosta added that the team believes there are younger players on the roster who “have a lot of potential to help us” — second-year player Jaylon Ferguson is the only outside linebacker under contract past the 2020 season who finished the year on the active roster — and that there will be opportunities to bring back some players, as well as target others in the draft and free agency. The edge rusher class “looks pretty good this year,” DeCosta said.
But with limited cap room and a leaguewide salary cap that could drop to as low as $175 million, the reality is that the Ravens will be forced into some tough decisions in the coming months.
Ngakoue, whom the team traded for midseason, had just three sacks in 11 games, including the playoffs. But at 25 years old and a former Pro Bowl selection, he will likely pursue a lucrative deal in free agency.
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The Ravens were unable to reach an agreement on an extension before the 2020 season with Judon, who played the season on the franchise tag, worth $16.8 million. If Judon, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, is given the franchise tag for a second straight season, the Ravens would have to pay him 120% of his previous salary, an unlikely path given the team’s cap restraints.
After the Ravens were eliminated in the divisional round of the playoffs, Judon said he did not know what awaited his future, but, “If they want me here, like I said, this is home.” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said last week at his season-ending news conference that he would like to have Judon back, “but you can’t get everybody back.”
McSorley, Huntley to compete for backup QB; team open to signing veteran
With the Ravens releasing quarterback Robert Griffin III, second-year player Trace McSorley and undrafted rookie Tyler Huntley “have a legitimate chance” to compete in the summer to back up Lamar Jackson, DeCosta said.
“It doesn’t mean that we won’t go after a veteran quarterback,” DeCosta said, “but we think both those guys have pretty bright futures and we see a good competition this year.”
McSorley, a 2019 sixth-round pick, was the third quarterback on the active roster and appeared in two games, completing three of 10 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. McSorley was placed on injured reserve after spraining his knee in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns; his injury, along with Griffin’s hamstring injury, paved the way for Huntley, who backed up Jackson for the final five games of the season.
Huntley, a former All-Pac 12 standout at Utah, entered the team’s season-ending loss to the Buffalo Bills after Jackson exited because of a concussion. Huntley completed six of 13 passes for 60 yards and rushed three times for 32 yards in the 17-3 defeat.