The 2017 Baltimore Ravens were coming of a rather mediocre season where they finished 8-8. 11 of their 16 games were decided by a touchdown (and extra points) or less. It was also the final season of wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who had quite a career for the Ravens and the Carolina Panthers before them. Besides replacing Smith, which they addressed by signing Jeremy Maclin, the team focused on their defensive secondary, letting six DBs go, signing four in free agency and getting two in the draft including their first round pick, corner back Marlon Humphrey. Their biggest move of the off-season may have been resigning defensive tackle Brandon Williams to a five-year deal worth $52.2 million.
After starting off with two wins against division rivals Cleveland and Cincinnati, they would lose five of the next seven games to go into their bye week at 4-5. They would turn it around after the break though, winning five of their next six games and have a chance to make the playoffs if they could beat the Cincinnati Bengals for a second time. It all looked possible when Eric Weddle made a drive ending interception, only to have it negated by a penalty and the Bengals score on their second chance to win. The team ended the season 9-7, one game better than the previous year and once again second in their division.
The Ravens appear to be standing pat, and that may be because they have no choice. The team is close to the salary cap and have little room to make any big moves. They are still in need of wide receiver help and could really use a tight end as well. Strengthening the offensive line is also on the shopping list, but most of that will need to come from the draft or from reclamation projects.
They will need to start looking for a new GM, as Ozzie Newsome has announced that this will be his final year. Newsome has been at the helm for 22 years and has had more successes than failures, but the team is blaming misses in the first three rounds over the last half dozen drafts on over-analysis and are trying to add to their scouting staff. They’ll need to make those changes quickly, as the draft is just two months away.
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