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Ravens free agency reset: Which potential targets remain after the first wave of signings? | ANALYSIS

It’s a new league year in the NFL, and the Ravens still haven’t added a wide receiver or edge rusher.

With the league’s legal tampering window closed, the top free agents in Baltimore and elsewhere have been mostly snapped up. The Ravens have invested most of their salary cap space in their own talent, re-signing outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee, inside linebacker Chris Board and defensive end Derek Wolfe, among others.

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But other than a three-year, $22.5 million deal for guard Kevin Zeitler, the Ravens have been reluctant to add new faces to the mix. Even with the NFL’s wide receiver and edge rusher markets slowly drying up, slashing their potential options at positions of need, general manager Eric DeCosta has kept his distance.

As free agency drags on, here’s what’s left of the potential impact players there.

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Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins makes a catch during a game against the Ravens on Sept. 28, 2020, in Baltimore.
Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins makes a catch during a game against the Ravens on Sept. 28, 2020, in Baltimore. (Nick Wass/AP)

Wide receiver

Kenny Golladay

The good: He had two 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his four years with the Detroit Lions, and he’s the kind of downfield target the Ravens need to complement Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. According to Pro Football Focus, his 628 yards on 20-plus-yard passes in 2019 ranked second in the NFL.

The bad: He’s played a full 16-game season just once in his career. Oh, and Spotrac projects his market value to be $17 million a year.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

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The good: He had 111 catches for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns during his age-22 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he bounced back from a disappointing 2019 to finish with 831 receiving yards. A reliable target over the middle against man and zone coverage, he’s also a tough blocker.

The bad: Do the Ravens really want to make a No. 2 wide receiver — especially one who’s best when aligned in the slot — one of their highest-paid players? Devin Duvernay and James Proche II are unproven but could develop into serviceable, cheap options there. The offense needs an outside threat more.

T.Y. Hilton

The good: Even with a clearly limited Philip Rivers at quarterback, he had 762 receiving yards and five touchdowns last season for the Indianapolis Colts. He did his best work where Jackson looks for the most work — in the intermediate areas. Forty-two of his 56 receptions went for either a first down or a touchdown in 2020.

The bad: He turns 32 in November, and at 5 feet 10, 183 pounds, he’s no longer the durable receiver he once was. After averaging at least 15.9 yards per reception every season from 2014 to 2018, his per-catch mark over the past two seasons was just 12.5 yards.

Sammy Watkins

The good: He was never more productive than he was when playing in a Greg Roman offense. In 2015, his second year with the Buffalo Bills, he had 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns, both still career bests.

The bad: He hasn’t posted even a 700-yard season since — and that’s while playing with Patrick Mahomes on the Kansas City Chiefs for the past three seasons. The former No. 4 overall pick had 55 catches for a career-low 421 yards last season.

Dolphins tackle Austin Jackson blocks Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram during a game Nov. 15, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Dolphins tackle Austin Jackson blocks Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram during a game Nov. 15, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (Doug Murray/AP)

Edge rusher

Jadeveon Clowney

The good: He’s one of the NFL’s best run stoppers as an edge defender, and he’s a good enough pass rusher. He had 48 quarterback pressures with the Houston Texans in 2018, tied for sixth most in the league, according to Pro-Football-Reference, and 30 pressures in 13 games the following season with the Seattle Seahawks, tied for 27th most.

The bad: He played just eight games for the Tennessee Titans last season before undergoing season-ending surgery on yet another knee injury. And after a zero-sack 2020, he has just 12 sacks total since 2018.

Justin Houston

The good: He had eight sacks and 25 pressures in 16 games last season for the Indianapolis Colts, another solid year of production from one of the NFL’s most consistent edge rushers.

The bad: His pass-rush grade on PFF was the lowest of his career, and at age 32, his effectiveness might increasingly depend on his workload. He also rarely dropped into coverage for the Colts, which the Ravens ask of their edge rushers.

Carlos Dunlap

The good: He impressed after a midseason trade to Seattle, posting five sacks and 18 pressures in eight Seahawks games. He’s also missed just three games total since 2013, a stretch of consistent pass-rush production.

The bad: According to ESPN, he ranked 45th out of 46 qualifiers in Pass Rush Win Rate in 2020. He graded out as an elite defender in 2019, but at 32, it’ll be tough to reach those same heights.

Melvin Ingram III

The good: He graded out as a strong pass rusher last season, according to PFF, even if he finished an injury-shortened Los Angeles Chargers season without a sack. Over the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he had a combined 14 sacks and 54 pressures.

The bad: He’s missed 12 games since 2019, with a knee injury interrupting and then ending his 2020 season.

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