When at its best a season ago, the Ravens' pass rush sent an extra blitzer or two to supplement what was already an outstanding group of every-down rushers. For the 2015 Ravens, sending extra pressure is far from the luxury that it was then, as star rush linebacker Terrell Suggs is out with a season-ending Achilles injury, Elvis Dumervil has been given more pass-blocking attention and is dealing with a groin injury, and Pernell McPhee, who rushed from all over the field, is now a Chicago Bear.
Unless the Ravens change their scheme or make a major addition, fourth-year linebacker Courtney Upshaw stands to gain the most from star pass rusher Terrell Suggs' season-ending Achilles tendon tear. Also, expect Crockett Gillmore to contribute on Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens fourth-round draft pick Za'Darius Smith turned to football over basketball and the team is glad he did. They selected him with the 122nd overall pick last Saturday, believing that the University of Kentucky outside linebacker/defensive end could replace some of Pernell McPhee's production and give them a young pass rusher to groom behind Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.
The Baltimore Sun obtained a copy of his contract, which includes a $15.5 million guaranteed, a $2.5 million signing bonus and a $5 million roster bonus and a fully guaranteed $1 million base salary in 2015.
Day two of free agency brought more reminders of the Ravens' key offseason losses. The team continued to weigh their free-agent options, exercising patience as they try to fill roster holes without an abundance of salary cap space.
Now that former Ravens outside linebacker Pernell McPhee has officially joined the Chicago Bears on a five-year deal worth nearly $40 million, the veteran pass rusher intends to provide an intimidation factor to his new football team.
The Ravens traded the five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Wednesday afternoon, along with a seventh-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, to the Detroit Lions in exchange for fourth and fifth round selections. The two sides couldn't come to an agreement on a restructured contract but for Ngata, 31, it was about more than money.
With the start of the new NFL year looming this afternoon, the Ravens had not reached an agreement Monday night on new contracts with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb, whose current deals will make it extremely difficult for the organization to be active in free agency.
Annually lacking the salary cap space to make major outside additions and content to reward their own players while building through the draft, the Ravens traditionally stay quiet through the first couple days of free agency when money changes hands at an eye-popping rate.
The Ravens' pending release of defensive tackle Terrence Cody, who is under investigation for animal cruelty, isn't necessarily a statement but it is a departure from how the Ravens have done things in the past.
Three days after the Ravens' season ended with a divisional round playoff loss to the New England Patriots, John Harbaugh expressed confidence in the organization's future, and the chances of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak remaining part of it.
As the Ravens begin the offseason, they already have the foundation for building a stronger team next year because of the youth on both interior lines. Now, over the next six or seven months, they need to add some playmakers.
The suddenness of it all was probably the hardest thing to accept for the Ravens, who spent Sunday emptying the contents of their lockers into large trash bags, saying their goodbyes to teammates and grudgingly embracing a long offseason and, in some cases, an uncertain future.
As he does each week, Baltimore Sun reporter Childs Walker shares his five biggest takeaways from the Ravens' 35-31 playoff loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional round at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
Whether through injury, illness, or suspension, the Ravens' talent at defensive line has been diluted all season. With one key cog or another missing for all but four of the team's 17 games, the group has still collapsed pockets, occupied blockers and held opponents without a 100-yard rusher all season.