Andrew Vorhees

Latest On Ravens’ Depth At Receiver, Guard

The Ravens haven’t done much to address the receiver position this offseason, as the team is set to return much of the same depth chart in 2024. As the coaching staff navigates the last few receiver spots on the roster, they could ultimately decide to add some reinforcement. As Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes, “it’s not impossible” that the Ravens add a wide receiver before the start of training camp.

Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, and Nelson Agholor are all but locked in atop the depth chart, and fourth-round rookie Devontez Walker will surely account for another spot. With Odell Beckham Jr. and Devin Duvernay out the door, the Ravens will likely have two more holes to fill at the position. Zrebiec points to Tylan Wallace and Deonte Harty as the most likely candidates for the role, especially considering their ability to replace Duvernay as a returner.

The Ravens have a handful of other notable players who will be competing for one of the receiver spots. Malik Cunningham is a former QB-turned-WR who the Ravens snagged off the Patriots practice squad last season. The team is also rostering Sean Ryan, the team’s lone 2023 UDFA who stuck around at the position.

The current grouping of unsigned veteran receivers isn’t very inspiring, with the likes of Michael Thomas, Hunter Renfrow, and Corey Davis leading the list. While Zrebiec hinted that the Ravens could look to add to the position prior to training camp, the organization could also await the assorted wideouts who will shake loose during the preseason.

Elsewhere in Baltimore, Zrebiec notes that the team is having an open competition with their two starting guard spots. While Ben Cleveland would be the favorite for one of the starting nods, Zrebiec believes the lineman will have to prove he can stay healthy and consistent. Zrebiec also believes former seventh-round pick Andrew Vorhees will eventually work his way into the starting lineup, although the team could temporarily turn to a more experienced option like Josh Jones.

Latest On Ravens’ Offensive Line

The Ravens’ offensive line is set to look very different from the group that started throughout their 14-3 campaign last year. Baltimore was home to the league’s MVP winner and top rushing offense thanks in part due to the contributions of right tackle Morgan Moses (now with the Jets), right guard Kevin Zeitler (now with the Lions), and left guard John Simpson (also with the Jets). With the departures of Moses, Zeitler, and Simpson, the team needed to address three starting positions along the offensive front this offseason.

The Ravens will see a few familiar faces return to start in 2024. Tyler Linderbaum, who has excelled since being drafted in the first round in 2022, will return with two years and a fifth-year option remaining on his contract. He has been the top-billed center as advertised, grading in the top seven players at the position each year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Ronnie Stanley also returns at left tackle. The blindside blocker’s inability to stay on the field continued in 2023, though with marked improvement. Though he made 13 starts last year, he only played 100 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in four of those games, often subbing out to be replaced by swing tackle Patrick Mekari.

Mekari returns, as well, set to reprise his usual role as the sixth man on the offensive line. At this point in his career, the veteran Cal product has started games at every position along the offensive line, often grading out better than the players he replaces. Mekari’s value as an emergency starter at any position makes it hard to dedicate him to a single starting spot, but at the end of the day, Baltimore is going to want to start its five best linemen.

To fill the three starting positions vacated, the Ravens are looking internally at draft picks from the past four years. At right tackle, rookie second-round pick Roger Rosengarten is expected to start at some point this year, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN, a bit more certain of a prediction than we had previously received on the subject. The Washington product will compete for the job with 2022 fourth-round selection Daniel Faalele. Faalele has only seen one start in his two years of play, but thanks to the continuous injuries to veterans like Stanley and Moses, Faalele has gotten a good number of injury-relief snaps with the first-team offense.

The drafted players competing for the two guard spots are 2021 third-round pick Ben Cleveland and last year’s sixth- and seventh-round picks, respectively, Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu and Andrew Vorhees. Cleveland has made starts in each year since getting drafted (seven starts total) but has failed to give Baltimore enough confidence to hand him the reins to the starting role. His starts have always come at the end of the season, usually when the team’s postseason fate has already been decided. In the team’s past two postseason appearances, Cleveland has failed to make a start despite staring the final games in each season.

Aumavae-Laulu and Vorhees are both interesting cases. Aumavae-Laulu was a finalist for the starting left guard job last offseason as a rookie, eventually losing out to Simpson. After not landing the gig, Aumavae-Laulu essentially served a redshirt season, failing to make an appearance in 2023. Vorhees joined Aumavae-Laulu in his redshirt season, recovering from an ACL tear suffered at the scouting combine last year. The USC product was widely viewed as a first- or second-round pick before the injury, allowing the Ravens to bookmark the seventh-rounder as an eventual candidate to start once healthy. Vorhees was also viewed as a candidate to start at right tackle before the draft, but with Rosengarten joining the locker room, Vorhees can likely focus on the interior.

There is at least one outside candidate vying for a starting role. Baltimore signed Josh Jones in free agency back in March as a potential competitor for a starting guard role. Jones has plenty of starting experience over his time with the Cardinals and Texans, starting 24 of 60 game appearances at both guard and tackle. Even if he can’t beat out Cleveland, Aumavae-Laulu, or Vorhees for a starting gig, he could join Mekari as one of two extremely versatile backups.

In the end, there is a lot to look forward to in offseason position battles. Linderbaum and Stanley seem fixed at their center and left tackle starting spots, respectively. Rosengarten should start at right tackle eventually, and if he’s not ready to start Week 1, Mekari, Faalele, Jones, or even Vorhees could man the spot in the meantime. The guard spots are mostly blind right now as the Ravens wait to see who develops into the roles best out of Cleveland, Aumavae-Laulu, Vorhees, and Jones. Expect it to be some combination of two of those four. And even if they fail to earn starting jobs, Mekari and Jones stand to represent two of the stronger backup options in the league and could fill in if any of the new starters falter early.

Regardless of who ends up where, the line is guaranteed to look extremely different in 2024. It will be up to offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, new assistant offensive line coach Travelle Wharton, and new run game coordinator Travis Switzer to make sure the line is as productive as last year’s unit. Having Lamar Jackson and Derrick Henry in the backfield should do wonders in helping towards achieving that goal, as well.

Ravens Notes: Rosengarten, Leary, Wiggins

Offensive line was seen as an area of need for the Ravens entering the draft. Baltimore lost starting guards Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson in free agency, and the team traded away right tackle Morgan Moses.

The team elected against adding an O-lineman in the first round, selecting cornerback Nate Wiggins instead. In the second round, however, the Ravens added Washington tackle Roger Rosengarten. He was one of several highly-regarded blockers in the 2024 class, though it did not come as a surprise he was still on the board following Day 1. Rosengarten could nevertheless see immediate playing time as a rookie.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said after the draft Rosengarten – who did not allow a sack over the past two seasons – will be “in the mix” for the starting right tackle spot this offseason. The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec writes he could be the favorite for the position (subscription required). Baltimore has incumbents Patrick Mekari and Daniel Faalele as well as free agent signing Josh Jones in place as competition. After protecting southpaw Michael Penix Jr.‘s blindside in college, Rosengarten could also be a candidate to succeed Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley down the road.

Here are some other notes out of Baltimore:

  • The Ravens were among the teams which drafted a depth quarterback on Day 3, selecting Devin Leary in the sixth round. The NC State transfer did not help his stock during his single season at Kentucky, and nine other passers were drafted ahead of him. Leary will compete for the third-string spot in Baltimore; after losing Tyler Huntley in free agency, Harbaugh said (via Zrebiec) that journeyman Josh Johnson is the team’s Lamar Jackson backup. Leary’s primary competitor will be Malik Cunningham, who faces the possibility of transitioning to receiver with the Ravens. Baltimore signed Emory Jones as a UDFA yesterday, giving the team five QBs at the moment.
  • Offensive lineman (and starting guard candidate) Andrew Vorhees missed his rookie season as he recovered from an ACL tear. The 2023 seventh-rounder returned to the practice field this weekend, though, with Harbaugh noting he is in a good spot regarding his recovery (h/t ESPN’s Jamison Hensley). Fifth-round rookie running back Rasheen Ali, meanwhile, will participate in the team’s rookie minicamp on a limited basis. Harbaugh said (via Zrebiec) Ali is expected to be healthy by training camp as he rehabs a torn bicep suffered at the Senior Bowl.
  • Wiggins is among the Ravens rookies who have already signed their initial NFL contracts. That $12.82MM deal includes a signing bonus of $6.14MM, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 notes. Baltimore turned down eight trade offers for the No. 30 pick, electing to retain it and select Wiggins. The Clemson product will no doubt be counted on heavily in his rookie season and beyond.

Latest On Ravens’ T Situation

Three of the five starting members of Baltimore’s offensive line from 2023 are no longer in place. One of the offseason departures was Morgan Moses, who manned the right tackle spot for the past two years.

Moses was traded to the Jets, allowing him to return to his former team. That decision, along with the free agent departures of guards John Simpson and Kevin Zeitler, has led many to expect the Ravens to focus on an offensive line addition early in the upcoming draft. Doing so would come as no surprise, but the team does have a few in-house options to choose from at the right tackle spot in particular.

Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda reports part of Baltimore’s decision to move on from Moses (who has one year remaining on his contract) was the team’s confidence in the other O-linemen in place. That list includes swing tackle Patrick Mekari and 2022 fourth-rounder Daniel Faalele. The former is a veteran of 71 appearances and 36 starts, having seen time at all five offensive line positions over the course of his career.

The latter, meanwhile, was drafted as a developmental project based on his size (6-8, 380 pounds) and athleticism. The 24-year-old Australian has played sparingly on offense and special teams to date, logging a total of 510 snaps. Taking on a full-time starting role would thus represent a sizable jump in responsibility, but he is a familiar option within the Ravens’ system.

Pauline also names 2023 seventh-round selection Andrew Vorhees as a potential right tackle starter based on how he is viewed by the organization. Vorhees missed his rookie campaign while rehabbing an ACL tear suffered at the Combine, but the absences of Simpson and Zeitler could steer him toward playing time on the inside. In any case, the former first-team All-American blocker could be positioned to take on a notable role up front in 2024.

In free agency, the Ravens helped fill the open spots along the offensive line in part by signing Josh Jones to a one-year deal. The former Cardinals and Texans swingman has experience at both tackle spots, as well as right guard. A decision has yet to be made on where Jones will play in Baltimore, but for now he represents another option to take over from Moses. Still, O-line could remain a draft priority for the Ravens when taking into account left tackle Ronnie Stanley‘s contract situation.

The 30-year-old has battled injuries over the past four years, and he agreed to a pay cut to remain in place for 2024. Stanley’s deal is now set to void next offseason as a result, and the Ravens could use the draft to select a successor. If a familiar face is in place at the opposite spot to begin the coming season, though, it would not come as a surprise.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/19/23

The roster updates following the opening of camp for rookies continued today:

Baltimore Ravens

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

Tennessee Titans

 

The news on Vorhees is no surprise. The lineman’s rookie year will operate as a redshirt season as he continues to work his way back from the torn ACL he suffered at the NFL Combine.

Wharton is also making his way back from a torn ACL. The rotation lineman suffered the season-ending injury in Week 5 of last season. He’s been working out with the team, but Wharton is not yet ready to be a full participant in practice.

Reid has started at least one game for each of the three teams for which he’s played in his three seasons of play. He’ll now look to find his seventh NFL team going into his fourth season.

Four In Running For Ravens’ LG Job?

The Ravens will return four starters from last year’s offensive line in right tackle Morgan Moses, right guard Kevin Zeitler, center Tyler Linderbaum, and left tackle Ronnie Stanley. After allowing last season’s starting left guard, Ben Powers, to depart for Denver in free agency, Baltimore has an open spot available on the starting offensive line.

The Ravens are fairly confident in their options to replace Powers. The favorites for the job are utility lineman Patrick Mekari, guards Ben Cleveland and John Simpson, and tackle Daniel Faalele. The team did draft two linemen in Oregon’s Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu and USC’s Andrew Vorhees, but Aumavae-Laulu is considered a developmental prospect who can play all over the line, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, while Vorhees’s recent injuries will require him to miss most, if not all, of his rookie season. They also recently added former Bears center Sam Mustipher, but Mustipher is expected to act as an experienced backup center behind Linderbaum.

Mekari and Faalele may be too valuable in their current roles to force into a starting guard spot, even if they would be strong contributors at the position. Mekari has excelled in recent years as a sort of sixth-man for the Ravens’ offensive line. The former undrafted free agent out of Cal has started games at every position on the line for Baltimore usually as an injury replacement. He has the talent to start for many teams, but Baltimore paid him in 2021 to stay and be one of the league’s most talented backups. Faalele on the other hand has the perfect frame to develop into a top tackle. At 6-foot-8, 380 pounds, Faalele could surely be a force on the interior offensive line, but the Ravens want to keep that length on the outside and will likely continue developing him as a tackle.

The battle likely boils down to Cleveland and Simpson. Cleveland was drafted in the third round two years ago with the expectation that he would develop into a starting guard. He lost the battle last year to Powers, but at 6-foot-6, 357 pounds, Cleveland could be an imposing physical presence on the left side of the line. He’s had five starts over his first two years in the league and dealt with a knee injury his rookie year.

Simpson was a late-season addition to the Ravens’ practice squad last year who was signed to a futures contract at the end of the season. He found his way to Baltimore after being waived by the Raiders but is only a year removed from his role as a full-time starting left guard for Las Vegas.

No battles will be won in May, but the Ravens are well set up to use this summer to determine who will be starting in between Linderbaum and Stanley in Week 1 vs. Houston.

Ravens To Sign OL Sam Mustipher

MAY 15: Mustipher’s visit has resulted in a one-year deal, as confirmed by Zrebiec (on Twitter). This homecoming will give Mustipher the chance to solidify himself as the Ravens’ backup center behind Linderbaum, and in doing so, allow Mekari to be used at least primarily as a swing tackle. Aside from the competition at left guard, the Ravens’ offensive line is now essentially in place for 2023.

MAY 10: The Bears declined to extend an RFA tender to Sam Mustipher in March, sending the four-year veteran to unrestricted free agency. The two-season starter has remained unattached beyond the compensatory deadline.

One team that traditionally shows regular interest in post-draft free agents — which do not count against the following year’s compensatory formula — has Mustipher on its radar. The Ravens brought in the former Bears starting center for a recent visit, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Mustipher, 26, joins fellow Maryland native Adrian Amos as being on Baltimore’s grid.

[RELATED: Ravens Not Ruling Out Marcus Peters Return]

Chicago had planned for ex-Green Bay starter Lucas Patrick to replace Mustipher at center last season, but Patrick dealt with multiple injuries and only managed five starts. This kept the door open for Mustipher, a Notre Dame product. The 332-pound snapper started 33 games over the past two years, not missing a contest during this run. Pro Football Focus graded Mustipher poorly in 2021 but viewed him as a middle-of-the-pack starter among centers last season, one in which the Bears led the NFL in rushing.

The Ravens have lost multiple interior O-linemen this offseason, seeing Ben Powers join the Broncos hours into the legal tampering period and backup Trystan Colon-Castillo sign with the Jets. The team drafted two late-round O-linemen — Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu (Round 6) and Andrew Vorhees (Round 7) — but a veteran interior presence would make sense. Vorhees, who suffered a torn ACL at the Combine, is unlikely to play this season. Veteran Patrick Mekari remains on the roster, but the versatile player also serves as Baltimore’s backup tackle. The loser of the Ben ClevelandJohn Simpson left guard competition would also represent interior depth, but the Ravens appear on the lookout for a Tyler Linderbaum backup.

The Bears seem to have closed the door on a Mustipher return. After signing four-year Titans starter Nate Davis, Chicago has moved Cody Whitehair back to center and is planning a competition between he and Patrick for the job.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/4/23

After the Panthers got the ball rolling yesterday, a number of teams started signing draft picks to their rookie contracts today. We’ve compiled all of the four-year, later-round signings below:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks