Kevin Zeitler

Ravens, G Kevin Zeitler Discussing Deal

Kevin Zeitler has continued to serve as a reliable interior offensive lineman. Now on team No. 4, Zeitler picked up his first Pro Bowl nod during a 12-year career. The Ravens guard also wants to play at least one more season.

Although Zeitler is one of the NFL’s oldest active O-linemen, set to turn 34 next month, the Ravens are interested in bringing him back. GM Eric DeCosta said he and Zeitler have discussed another deal, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Zeitler played out his initial three-year Baltimore pact this season.

A late-career Steelers cameo from completing the AFC North sweep, Zeitler has been one of the Ravens’ most dependable cogs during the 2020s. Pro Football Focus has graded Zeitler as a top-15 guard in each of his three Baltimore seasons. In 2023, the advanced metrics website slotted him as the NFL’s second-best pass-protecting guard. Illustrating the inconsistencies in grading O-linemen, ESPN’s pass block win rate metric did not place Zeitler in the top 20. But the former Bengals, Browns and Giants blocker has been durable and a regular starter over the course of his 12-year career.

Zeitler scored big in free agency back in 2017, parlaying his fifth-year option Bengals season into a then-guard-record deal with the Browns (five years, $60MM). Changing GMs during Zeitler’s Cleveland tenure, the Browns included him as part of their Odell Beckham Jr. deal in 2019. The Giants used Zeitler as a two-season starter, and despite then-GM Dave Gettleman‘s push to bolster the team’s O-line, Big Blue released the trade pickup in 2021. Zeitler then signed a three-year, $22.5MM deal with the Ravens.

The former first-round pick expressed a desire for a Ravens extension last summer, but no new deal emerged. Zeitler started 15 more games with the Ravens, playing out the contract while missing only four contests in that three-season run. Zeitler has started 181 career games. Than number ranks in the top 20 all time; the Wisconsin alum is 29 starts ahead of Zack Martin among active guards.

With Ravens left guard John Simpson due for free agency as well, the Ravens face the prospect of losing both their guard starters. The team let contract-year breakout blocker Ben Powers depart last year, opting for Simpson at a lower cost. With Simpson playing out his deal and Tyler Linderbaum on a rookie pact that can be pushed to 2026 via the fifth-year option, Zeitler staying on a midlevel accord makes sense. He will be a more affordable free agent than Patrick Queen, who appears poised to test the market, and Justin Madubuike, who is likely to be franchise-tagged. Baltimore also has effective stopgap pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy out of contract.

This year’s guard market features some interesting first-time free agents. Jonah Jackson, Kevin Dotson, Robert Hunt, Damien Lewis, Jon Runyan Jr., and Ezra Cleveland are weeks away from hitting the market. Among guards to have held UFA status previously, Zeitler may lead the pack for value. Ex-Denver teammates Graham Glasgow and Dalton Risner are among the veteran options set to be available. The Ravens have until March 11 to keep Zeitler off the market.

Ravens Notes: Extensions, Hamilton, WRs

The Ravens have a number of key players set to play the final year of their contracts in 2023, leaving plenty of decisions to be made in the near future. A mix of younger and veteran contributors could soon find themselves signing new deals.

Defensive linemen Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington are each entering the final season of their rookie deals, but it would come as no surprise if extensions were agreed to with at least one before next year’s free agency period begins. The same holds true in the case of veteran offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler, writes Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (subscription required).

The 33-year-old has been in Baltimore since 2021, and he has been a steady presence at right guard during that span. Zeitler has earned PFF grades in line with much of the rest of his career over the past two seasons, leading to his desire for a new contract ahead of his walk year. Zrebeic notes that Zeitler’s asking price is unknown at this point, but a mutual interest exists to extend the relationship between player and club especially on a short-term deal from the latter’s perspective.

Zrebiec adds that 2020 draftees Patrick Queen, J.K. Dobbins and Devin Duvernay could all be on the Ravens’ radar with respect to new deals, but value will be crucial for the former two in particular with other players likely a more cost-effective priority. Duvernay could find himself holding off on an extension to boost his value in new offensive coordinator Todd Monken‘s system.

Here are some other notes from Charm City:

  • Safety Kyle Hamilton missed just one game in his rookie season last year, but he dealt with a lingering wrist injury for much of the campaign. As noted in an interview the first-rounder had with Zrebiec, he underwent surgery this offseason to address the issue. Hamilton, 22, now feels fully healed, something which will help him take on a full-time starting role this season. The Notre Dame product totaled 62 stops, a pair of sacks and five pass deflections last year, but the trade of Chuck Clark leaves him in line as a key member of Baltimore’s secondary now and in the future.
  • The Ravens have invested heavily at the WR spot this offseason, signing Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor and using their top draft pick on Zay FlowersLaquon Treadwell inked a deal with the Ravens earlier this month, giving him a chance to make the team’s roster during training camp. If he does, the four aforementioned pass-catchers, along with 2021 draftee Rashod Bateman, would combine to give the Ravens five former first-round picks at the receiver spot. No team has had that many Day 1 selections catch a pass in the same season, as noted by ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. Plenty of question remarks remain regarding Baltimore’s passing attack – one which has signficant room for improvement in 2023 – but the team could make an interesting piece of history this season depending on how their WR room shakes out in the summer.

Ravens OL Kevin Zeitler Seeking New Deal

The Ravens currently have a vacancy at left guard, but they have had stability at the opposite spot with Kevin Zeitler for the past two seasons. If the veteran has his way, that will continue beyond 2023.

Zeitler is seeking a new contract, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The 33-year-old is attending the Ravens’ mandatory minicamp, though, and plans to be a full participant in the three-day practice period. While he is not holding out, it will be worth watching how Zeitler approaches extension talks with Baltimore.

The former first-rounder signed a three-year, $22.5MM deal with the Ravens in 2021. That pact allowed him to return to the AFC North after he spent time with the Bengals and Browns before a two-year stint with the Giants. Zeitler gave Baltimore an experienced successor to Marshal Yanda at the RG spot, and he has been as advertised for the first two years of his time in Charm City.

Zeitler has started all 32 of his appearances for the Ravens, and his performances have remained consistent during his time with the team. He earned PFF grades of 75 and 74.1 over the past two years, excelling in pass protection in particular. While penalties (seven) were an issue in 2021, that figure dropped to just two last season as Zeitler was part of an offensive line which helped pave the way for the league’s second-most productive rushing attack.

The Wisconsin alum is set to carry a cap hit of $5.2MM in 2023, a reasonable figure given his status as a full-time starter. However, the Ravens selected Andrew Vorhees in the seventh round of this year’s draft, giving them a potential Zeitler successor. The former is expected to miss most or all of his rookie season while recovering from an ACL tear, but he was named the Pac-12’s top offensive lineman and a first-team All-American in 2022, which will lead to considerable expectations for the 2024 campaign. It will be interesting to monitor what developments (if any) will have taken place with respect to Zeitler’s financial future by that point.

Ravens To Sign Kevin Zeitler

The Ravens have agreed to sign former Giants guard Kevin Zeitler (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). Once official, it’ll be a three-year, $22.5MM pact with $16MM in guaranteed money. 

[RELATED: Ravens Re-Sign Pernell McPhee]

The Giants dropped Zeitler last week to save about $9.6MM in cap space. The Giants shopped Zeitler before releasing him, but interested teams like the Ravens stayed patient because they expected him to get cut.

Zeitler was the Giants’ best offensive lineman, so the move was more about finances than football. The Ravens, meanwhile, get to fill the longstanding void left by Marshal Yanda‘s 2020 retirement. Tyre Phillips, Patrick Mekari, and Ben Powers all tried their hand at right guard, but no one in that trio was able to replace Yanda’s protection.

The Ravens said they’d prioritize blocking for Lamar Jackson this offseason and Zeitler goes a long way towards addressing that need. Over the last three years, Pro Football Focus has Zeitler ranked as the 17th best guard in the NFL. He’s also been reliable with at least 15 starts in each of the past six seasons.

Giants Release Kevin Zeitler

The Giants just made a big move. New York has released guard Kevin Zeitler, the team announced on Wednesday. Zeitler becomes the latest in a string of high profile cap casualties this past week.

The move will clear about $9.6MM in cap space the Giants needed if they wanted to retain guys like defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson. We heard last week that New York was shopping Zeitler, but teams were expecting him to get cut so no one was willing to offer anything. That being said, now that he doesn’t come with the hefty contract, there will be plenty of interest.

Zeitler certainly hasn’t played poorly, the Giants could just no longer justify the cap charge. Some people were skeptical the team would actually cut their best O-lineman with Daniel Jones heading into a make or break year, but these are the kinds of decisions necessitated by the league-wide cap crunch.

Zeitler had been set to make a salary of $12MM, and while he won’t get that, he’ll get some significant guaranteed money on the open market. The 27th overall pick of the 2012 draft spent his first five years with the Bengals before signing a five-year, $60MM pact with the Browns in 2017.

That deal made him the highest-paid guard in the league at the time. He was then traded to New York in March of 2019 as part of the blockbuster Odell Beckham Jr. trade. He’s never made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team, but has nonetheless always been a solid starter.

He’s also been reliable, starting at least 15 games in each of the past six seasons, and he’s never played less than 12. With Zeitler off the roster, Shane Lemieux and Will Hernandez now project as the Giants’ two starting guards for 2021.

Jaguars’ OL Andrew Norwell, Giants’ OL Kevin Zeitler On The Trade Block?

A pair of veteran offensive linemen are apparently on the trade block, but it’s sounding like there may not be any takers. Jason La Canfora is hearing that the Jaguars are shopping offensive guard Andrew Norwell, while the Giants are trying to move offensive guard Kevin Zeitler (Twitter link). The reporter adds that rival teams believe these two linemen will ultimately be released, at which time they’ll “generate significant interest” around the NFL.

Norwell parlayed his first-team All-Pro nod with the Panthers into a five-year, $66.5MM deal with the Jaguars in 2018. While the veteran hasn’t matched his production from that standout campaign, he’s still been a dependable presence on Jacksonville’s line over the past three years. The organization’s decision to shop (and, presumably, eventually move on from) Norwell is mostly financial; the veteran has a cap hit of $15MM in 2021 and $16MM in 2022, and cutting him would leave manageable dead cap hits of $6MM in 2021 and $3MM in 2022.

Zeitler, a former first-round pick, spent the first five seasons of his career with the Bengals, including a 2012 campaign where he earned All-Rookie Team honors from the Pro Football Writers Association. He inked a five-year, $60MM deal with the Browns in 2017, making him the highest-paid guard in the NFL. He spent a pair of seasons in Cleveland before getting dealt to the Giants as a part of the Odell Beckham trade.

The 30-year-old has played the past two seasons in New York, appearing in all but one game. The veteran has a $14.5MM cap hit in the final year of his contract, and the Giants would be left with only $2.5MM in dead cap if they decided to cut him.

Trade Rumors: Giants, Ryan, Fuller

After dealing Markus Golden to the Cardinals, it appears the 1-6 Giants have officially declared themselves sellers at this year’s trade deadline. Though GM Dave Gettleman may be reluctant to trade away veteran talent that could theoretically help Big Blue win a few games — and perhaps save Gettleman’s job in the process — players like Evan Engram, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate could be available, as Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes (though Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says the club is unlikely to deal Engram).

2017 second-round DT Dalvin Tomlinson could also be on the move, per Dunleavy. Tomlinson is playing out the last year of his rookie contract, and while he has expressed interest in staying with the Giants long-term, there has been little progress in contract talks.

As we creep closer to the November 3 deadline, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league:

Trade Notes: Vikings, Giants, Dunlap, Jets

The Vikings greenlit this season’s biggest trade thus far by sending Yannick Ngakoue to the Ravens for third- and fifth-round picks. While GM Rick Spielman said the team is not waving a white flag on its 2020 season, Albert Breer of SI.com notes the Vikings are willing to make more seller’s trades. Teams have contacted them about Kyle Rudolph, their 10th-year tight end who is in the first season of his latest Minnesota extension. The Vikings signed Rudolph to a four-year, $36MM extension but did so shortly after drafting Irv Smith Jr. in the second round. While Breer notes the Vikes are open for business on contract-year players, the soon-to-be 31-year-old Rudolph would make sense as a trade chip as well. He was a trade candidate before he signed his extension. Guard Pat Elflein and franchise-tagged safety Anthony Harris are the Vikings’ highest-profile contract-year players.

Here is the latest from the trade market:

  • While this year’s NFC East could be historically bad, the Giants are 1-6 and in a seller’s position again. They have fielded calls on Kevin Zeitler and Golden Tate, according to Breer. Tate has been a deadline chip before, with the Lions sending him to the Eagles in 2018. Tate’s through-2022 contract, thanks to a PED suspension in 2019, contains no more guaranteed money. Zeitler’s deal runs through 2021. The upper-echelon guard has more than $5MM in salary remaining this season and is due a $12MM base in 2021. The Giants acquired Zeitler via trade in 2019.
  • Washington has lost five straight and is also willing to listen on veterans, per Breer. Two that have come up: edge defenders Ryan Kerrigan and Ryan Anderson. The former is Washington’s all-time sack leader; he has three this season for a deep D-line group. But Washington drafted Montez Sweat and Chase Young in the past two first rounds, creating a rare surplus that has moved Kerrigan to a rotational role. Kerrigan and Anderson are in contract years.
  • Carlos Dunlap took issue with the Bengals demoting him, joining Geno Atkins in voicing frustration about playing time. The Bengals were not eager to deal veterans last year, despite their struggles in a 2-14 season, but Breer adds teams view Dunlap as available for trade. Dunlap is Cincinnati’s all-time sack leader but still played a part-time role for the team last week, despite Sam Hubbard‘s IR placement. The Bengals are expected to cut Dunlap in 2021.
  • The Jets dealt nose tackle Steve McLendon to the Buccaneers shortly after their Week 6 game, and in a rare development, McLendon knew he would be a postgame trade piece a day in advance. The Jets interestingly opted not to hold him out of last week’s game. “I got the news on Saturday night that a car would be waiting for me after the game Sunday to come to Tampa,” McLendon said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. “I was like, ‘OK.’ Sunday morning, I woke up, I prayed, and I was like, ‘This is one last ride.’ A lot of guys were saying, ‘Man, you’re really gonna play?’ And I was like, ‘Man, this could be the last time I play with y’all in my career.'” The 11th-year veteran will now be tasked with replacing Vita Vea.
  • Traded players must go through similar protocols to free agency additions. They must pass a COVID-19 test for five days straight and pass a sixth on the day they enter the facility. This formed the Ravens‘ timetable on their Ngakoue trade, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter), in order for the defensive end to practice Wednesday and play against the Steelers next week.

Giants Restructure Kevin Zeitler’s Contract

The Giants have restructured the contract of guard Kevin Zeitler, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The revised contract should give the Giants some much needed flexibility with the anticipated signing of two first-round picks on the horizon. 

The tweaked contract will convert $7.5MM of Zeitler’s $10MM salary for 2019 into a signing bonus. By doing that, the G-Men have freed up $5MM in cap room for the upcoming season.

Beyond that, Zeitler is signed through 2021 with non-guaranteed salaries of $10MM and $12MM. But, by easing the blow in 2019, his cap hits will go up $2.5MM in each of those seasons. That’s a bridge the Giants can potentially cross next offseason, if they are still in need of wiggle room.

The Giants acquired Zeitler via trade with the Browns in a swap that sent Olivier Vernon to Cleveland. Later, that trade was merged with the Odell Beckham Jr. blockbuster, resulting in the following mega-trade:

Browns acquire:

Giants acquire:

In Zeitler, the Giants added one of the league’s best interior linemen. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 ranked guard last season and should provide a huge boost to the club’s front five.

Final Terms Of Odell Beckham Jr. Trade

The trades of Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon were originally reported as separate moves, but the Browns and Giants have have each announced the acquisitions as one large transaction. Additionally, as Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com first reported, the fourth- and fifth-round picks that were originally part of the Vernon/Kevin Zeitler trade are no longer involved in the swap.

Here are the full terms of the stunning trade:

Browns acquire:

Giants acquire: