Todd Monken

Assessing NFL’s OC Landscape

This offseason showed the turnover that can take place at the offensive coordinator position. As a result of several decisions in January and February, the NFL no longer has an OC who has been in his current role for more than two seasons. Various firings and defections now have the 2022 batch of hires stationed as the longest-tenured OCs.

One of the longest-tenured coordinators in NFL history, Pete Carmichael is no longer with the Saints. The team moved on after 15 seasons, a stay that featured part-time play-calling duties. The Browns canned their four-year non-play-calling OC, Alex Van Pelt, while three-year play-callers Arthur Smith and Shane Waldron are relocating this winter. Brian Callahan‘s five-year gig as the Bengals’ non-play-calling OC booked him a top job.

The recent lean toward offense-oriented HCs took a bit of a hit of a hit this offseason, with five of the eight jobs going to defense-oriented leaders. Callahan, Dave Canales and Jim Harbaugh were the only offense-geared candidates hired during this cycle. But half the NFL will go into this season with a new OC. Following the Seahawks’ decision to hire ex-Washington (and, briefly, Alabama) staffer Ryan Grubb, here is how the NFL’s OC landscape looks:

2022 OC hires

  • Ben Johnson, Detroit Lions*
  • Mike Kafka, New York Giants*
  • Wes Phillips, Minnesota Vikings
  • Frank Smith, Miami Dolphins
  • Adam Stenavich, Green Bay Packers
  • Press Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars*

Although this sextet now comprises the senior wing of offensive coordinators, this still marks each’s first gig as an NFL OC. Three of the six received HC interest this offseason.

Johnson’s status back in Detroit has been one of the offseason’s top storylines and a development the Commanders have not taken especially well. The two-year Lions OC was viewed as the frontrunner for the Washington job for weeks this offseason, and when team brass did not receive word about Johnson’s intent to stay in Detroit (thus, waiting until at least 2025 to make his long-expected HC move) until a Commanders contingent was en route to Detroit for a second interview, a back-and-forth about what exactly broke down took place. Johnson should be expected to remain a high-end HC candidate next year, but Dan Campbell will still have his services for 2024.

Kafka interviewed for the Seahawks’ HC job, and the Giants then blocked him from meeting with the NFC West team about its OC position. Rumblings about Kafka and Brian Daboll no longer being on great terms surfaced this year, with the latter yanking away play-calling duties — given to Kafka ahead of the 2022 season — at points in 2023. Taylor may also be on the hot seat with his team. Doug Pederson gave Taylor the call sheet last season, and Trevor Lawrence did not make the leap many expected. After a collapse left the Jaguars out of the playoffs, the team had begun to look into its offensive situation.

2023 OC hires

  • Jim Bob Cooter, Indianapolis Colts
  • Nathaniel Hackett, New York Jets*
  • Mike LaFleur, Los Angeles Rams
  • Joe Lombardi, Denver Broncos
  • Todd Monken, Baltimore Ravens*
  • Matt Nagy, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Drew Petzing, Arizona Cardinals*
  • Brian Schottenheimer, Dallas Cowboys
  • Bobby Slowik, Houston Texans*

Only nine of the 15 OCs hired in 2023 are still with their teams. One (Canales) moved up the ladder, while others were shown the door following that organization canning its head coach. The Eagles were the only team who hired an offensive coordinator last year to fire that staffer (Brian Johnson) after one season. Nick Sirianni fired both his coordinators following a wildly disappointing conclusion.

Hackett may also be drifting into deep water, given what transpired last year in New York. Rumblings of Robert Saleh — who is on the hottest seat among HCs — stripping some of his offensive play-caller’s responsibilities surfaced recently. This marks Hackett’s fourth chance to call plays in the NFL; the second-generation staffer did so for the Bills, Jaguars and Broncos prior to coming to New York. After the 2022 Broncos ranked last in scoring, the ’23 Jets ranked 31st in total offense. Hackett’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers has largely kept him in place, but 2024 may represent a last chance for the embattled coach.

Of this crop, Monken and Slowik were the only ones to receive HC interest. Neither emerged as a frontrunner for a position, though Slowik met with the Commanders twice. The Texans then gave their first-time play-caller a raise to stick around for C.J. Stroud‘s second season. Stroud’s remarkable progress figures to keep Slowik on the HC radar. Monken, who is in his third try as an NFL OC (after gigs in Tampa and Cleveland), just helped Lamar Jackson to his second MVP award. The former national championship-winning OC did not stick the landing — as Jackson struggled against the Chiefs — but he fared well on the whole last season.

Schottenheimer is on his fourth go-round as an OC, while Lombardi is on team No. 3. The latter’s job figures to be more secure, being tied to Sean Payton, compared to what is transpiring in Dallas. With the Cowboys having Mike McCarthy as the rare lame-duck HC, his coordinators probably should not get too comfortable.

2024 OC hires

  • Joe Brady, Buffalo Bills*
  • Liam Coen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
  • Ken Dorsey, Cleveland Browns
  • Luke Getsy, Las Vegas Raiders*
  • Ryan Grubb, Seattle Seahawks*
  • Nick Holz, Tennessee Titans
  • Kliff Kingsbury, Washington Commanders*
  • Klint Kubiak, New Orleans Saints*
  • Brad Idzik, Carolina Panthers
  • Kellen Moore, Philadelphia Eagles*
  • Dan Pitcher, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Zac Robinson, Atlanta Falcons*
  • Greg Roman, Los Angeles Chargers*
  • Arthur Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers*
  • Alex Van Pelt, New England Patriots*
  • Shane Waldron, Chicago Bears*

The 49ers do not employ a traditional OC; 16 of the 31 teams that do recently made a change. Most of the teams to add OCs this year, however, did so without employing play-calling coaches. This naturally raises the stakes for this year’s batch of hires.

Retreads became rather popular. Dorsey, Getsy, Moore, Van Pelt and Waldron were all OCs elsewhere (Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Seattle) last season. Smith will shift from calling the Falcons’ plays to running the show for the Steelers. Dorsey, Getsy and Van Pelt were fired; Moore and Waldron moved on after the Chargers and Seahawks respectively changed HCs. Moore and Smith will be calling plays for a third team; for Moore, this is three OC jobs in three years.

Coen, Kingsbury and Roman are back after a year away. Kingsbury became a popular name on the OC carousel, having coached Caleb Williams last season. This will be his second crack at an NFL play-calling gig, having been the Cardinals’ conductor throughout his HC tenure. This will be Coen’s first shot at calling plays in the pros; he was Sean McVay‘s non-play-calling assistant in 2022. Likely to become the Chargers’ play-caller, Roman will have a rare fourth chance to call plays in the NFL. He held that responsibility under Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco; following Harbaugh’s explosive 2015 49ers split, Roman moved to Buffalo and Baltimore to work under non-offense-oriented leaders.

Grubb, Holz, Idzik, Pitcher and Robinson represent this year’s first-timer contingent. Grubb has, however, called plays at the college level. Robinson is the latest McVay staffer to move into a play-calling post; he was a Rams assistant for five years. A host of teams had Robinson on their OC radar, but Raheem Morris brought his former L.A. coworker to Atlanta. Pitcher appeared in a few searches as well, but the Bengals made the expected move — after extending him last year — to give him Callahan’s old job.

* = denotes play-calling coordinator

2024 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

The Commanders’ hire has wrapped this year’s cycle. Barring a team making an 11th-hour change, the 2024 HC carousel has come to a stop. The final breakdown produced five defensive coaches being hired compared to three with backgrounds on offense. Many teams are still searching for offensive and defensive coordinators, however.

Updated 2-1-24 (10:37am CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

  • Jerod Mayo, linebackers coach (Patriots): Hired

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Panthers Request HC Interviews With Ben Johnson, Todd Monken, Bobby Slowik

The list of Panthers head coaching candidates continues to grow. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Panthers have requested an interview with Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson for the HC job. Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Panthers have also requested a HC interview with Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken. The Panthers have also requested an interview with Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik (per Pelissero) and Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales (via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler).

[RELATED: Panthers Request HC Interview With Bengals OC Brian Callahan]

Johnson is expected to be one of the most popular head coaching candidates this offseason. Since earning a promotion to offensive coordinator in 2022, Johnson has helped guide the Lions to one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Lions ranked top-10 in points in each of the past two campaigns, and after the passing offense took off in 2022, the rushing offense joined them in 2023.

Johnson was already a hot name last offseason, earning interviews with the Panthers, Texans, and Colts. Ultimately, Johnson said the allure of sticking with head coach Dan Campbell and quarterback Jared Goff convinced him to stay in Detroit. Following another successful regular season, it’ll be interesting to see how the offensive coordinator proceeds in 2024, especially if David Tepper is willing to back up the Brink’s truck.

Following underwhelming OC stops in Tampa Bay and Cleveland, Monken caught on with Georgia in 2020. He returned to the NFL in 2023, this time as Baltimore’s offensive coordinator. Monken was credited with helping guide the Ravens to one of the best offenses in the NFL this past season. In 2023, Baltimore ranked first in points scored, first in takeaway/giveaway ratio, and fourth in yards. Despite injuries throughout the depth chart, the Ravens’ rushing attack continued to be the most productive in the NFL, ranking first in yards, third in yards per attempt, and fourth in touchdowns.

After interviewing for the Jets and Packers head coaching jobs in 2019, Monken had been off the head coaching radar over the past few years. He’s quickly rehabilitated his image; besides his interview with the Panthers, Monken has also earned an interview from the Chargers.

Slowik’s stint with the 49ers culminated in him earning offensive passing game coordinator in 2022, and his success in that role earned him the OC job in Houston for the 2023 campaign. Despite rostering one of the least-experienced offenses in the NFL, Slowik squeezed a productive season out of his group, helping guide the Texans to the 12th-best mark in both points and yards.

Canales spent more than a decade in Seattle before earning the Buccaneers offensive coordinator job last offseason. There were plenty of question marks surrounding Tampa Bay’s offense heading into 2023, but Canales got a productive season out of his squad. Baker Mayfield had one of the best seasons of his career under center, and the Buccaneers ended up finishing top-10 in passing touchdowns and interceptions.

We already heard that the Panthers requested a HC interview with Bengals OC Brian Callahan, meaning the five definitive candidates all have offensive backgrounds. Recent reports indicated that Tepper was eyeing more of an offensive-minded coach, although that hasn’t stopped the organization from being connected to (and potentially pursuing) the defensive-minded Bill Belichick.

Chargers Request HC Interview With Steve Wilks, Ben Johnson, Aaron Glenn, Todd Monken

The NFL pushed back the HC carousel’s actual interviews this season, the in-person meetings at least. The league will delay onsite HC interviews until after the divisional round, but teams can still begin requesting meetings today. HC-needy clubs have gotten to work.

This now includes the Chargers, who sent an interview request to 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, according to’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. The Bolts need to hire both a head coach and a GM, so plenty of moving parts — the biggest being Jim Harbaugh — are in place here. But Wilks is back on the HC radar after keeping the 49ers’ defense in high gear.

The Bolts are also interested in speaking with both the Lions’ top coordinators. Aaron Glenn and Ben Johnson received requests to meet about the Los Angeles job,’s Tom Pelissero tweets. Johnson, who has now collected requests from the Commanders and Panthers, has been on the Bolts’ radar for a bit. Mutual interest is believed to exist. Ravens OC Todd Monken is also on the Chargers’ radar, with Rapoport adding the recent college play-caller received a request about this job as well.

Last year, Wilks went toe-to-toe with Frank Reich for the Panthers’ HC position. After two interviews, David Tepper went with Reich. Tepper had been connected to wanting an offensive-minded coach, sending Wilks out the door after he went 6-6 as Carolina’s interim HC. Reich lasted 11 games, and the Panthers are back on the HC carousel. Tepper is not interested in bringing Wilks back this year, but the Chargers want to see if he makes sense for them. The 49ers, who have seen their past two DCs (Robert Saleh, DeMeco Ryans) become head coaches, rank third in scoring defense and fourth in defensive DVOA.

This represents quite the comeback for Monken, who had spent three years as Georgia’s OC after the 2019 Browns imploded. A one-and-done OC on the ill-fated Freddie Kitchens-centered staff, Monken — a former Buccaneers OC — rebuilt his value in Georgia, helping the Bulldogs to back-to-back national titles. He may have to beat out Harbaugh, whose Wolverines lost to the 2021 Bulldogs in the CFP semifinals, for the gig. Monken, however, has considerable momentum thanks to Lamar Jackson being on the cusp of his second MVP award. The Ravens rank in the top six in scoring and total offense, rebounding after 17th- and 19th-place finishes — albeit in seasons Jackson did not finish — in 2021 and ’22.

Johnson might be this year’s hottest HC candidate. Similar to Arthur Smith‘s stock in 2021, Johnson could end up receiving requests from the full lot of HC-seeking teams. While Smith is not the best name to bring up right now, Johnson joins the ex-Titans OC in being a two-year play-caller as an assistant. The Lions revived their offense after Dan Campbell handed Johnson the reins in 2022. Jared Goff ranked fifth in QBR last season. Although Goff took a step back this year, sitting 14th, the Lions won 12 games for just the second time in franchise history.

Johnson is 2-for-2 in top-five offensive finishes as a coordinator. It would surprise if he did not land a job during this cycle, and multiple offers could come his way. The Panthers loom for the ascending OC, a North Carolina native, but they are not exactly in a good place organizationally — and Johnson turned them down in 2023. The Chargers will have candidates eager to coach Justin Herbert; Harbaugh may well be among them.

Glenn interviewed with the Cardinals and Colts last year, but his unit’s performance does not match the Lions’ offense. The Lions have finished 31st, 28th and 23rd in scoring defense during Glenn’s three-year tenure, and he was rumored to be on the chopping block during the 2022 season. But Detroit crafted a turnaround that has carried over to this year. Glenn has also seen two of his DB pieces (C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Emmanuel Moseley) suffer major injuries. That has not stopped both the Chargers and Commanders from reaching out about their HC vacancies.

Ravens’ Todd Monken, Mike Macdonald Expected To Draw HC Interest

The Ravens have not seen a coordinator leave for a head coaching job since 2015, when one-year offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak left for the Broncos. Kubiak was not on the radar anywhere else that offseason. Sitting 9-3 after its bye week, Baltimore may see multiple teams reach out to both its current coordinators about HC interviews in 2024.

John Harbaugh just assembled his Todd MonkenMike Macdonald coordinator combo, though the latter arrived last year. Staffers surveyed around the league, however, expect the Ravens to see both end up on next year’s HC carousel, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes. A few execs went further, suggesting Harbaugh will need to hire two new coordinators next year.

Monken, 57, re-emerged from the college ranks this offseason, coming back to the NFL after helping Georgia win two national championships as OC. Although Lamar Jackson sits 13th in QBR, the Ravens have zoomed to 9-3 and withstood the J.K. Dobbins loss while seeing a few offensive linemen miss time. They will face a challenge moving forward, with Mark Andrews out of the equation — though, Harbaugh is not shutting down the notion the Pro Bowl tight end can come back deep into the playoffs — but the Monken hire has turned out well in Year 1.

Although Monken had been off the NFL radar for a bit, he has previously interviewed for HC positions. The Jets and Packers interviewed Monken for their HC positions in 2019. Before Baltimore, Monken had served as OC with Tampa Bay and Cleveland. The Browns stint went poorly, with Freddie Kitchens becoming a one-and-done after being unready for an HC post, and Monken returned to the college game. After the Georgia success, Monken’s Ravens offense ranks fifth in DVOA and seventh in scoring. With offensive coaches holding the upper hand on their defensive counterparts in terms of HC rises, Monken stands to be a name to watch soon.

As the Ravens have shifted away — to a degree, at least — from Greg Roman run-oriented attack, they have taken steps forward on defense as well. Macdonald rejoined Baltimore’s staff last year, replacing Don Martindale after a one-season stint under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. The Ravens had previously groomed Macdonald, 36, by bringing him up through their coaching ranks. Macdonald was on Baltimore’s staff from 2014-20. He has not been in the mix for any HC posts previously, but that figures to change in 2024.

The Ravens’ defense leads the league in DVOA and scoring. They have gotten by with Marlon Humphrey missing six games. Last year’s Roquan Smith trade has proven tremendously beneficial, and the team has coaxed quality production from late free agency pickups Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy. Clowney did not sign until August 18, and the team did not add Van Noy until Sept. 26. Both have played key roles as edge rushers, combining for 13.5 sacks and 24 QB hits. Justin Madubuike is putting together a career year, leading the Ravens with 10 sacks and raising his free agency stock in the process.

Harbaugh’s 15 previous seasons in Baltimore have produced four coordinator-to-HC jumps, though Martindale and Roman both received interviews. Rex Ryan, who was in place as the Ravens’ DC before Harbaugh’s arrival, left for the Jets in 2009. His successor, Chuck Pagano, left for the Colts’ HC job in 2012. The Lions hired Ravens OC Jim Caldwell in 2014. Teams cannot begin interviewing candidates currently on NFL staffs until after the divisional round this year, marking a change from previous offseasons.

Ravens Rumors: Jackson, Ricard, Mullen, Worley

It’s safe to say the Ravens are doing everything in their power to keep star quarterback Lamar Jackson happy. It all started with the massive contract extension to keep him off the market and keep him in Baltimore. Making Jackson the NFL’s highest-paid player in annual average value (at the time) was only Step One.

While they were working on his contract, the team also did their best to revamp his weapons cabinet. They utilized their top draft pick on Boston College wideout Zay Flowers. They also brought in a few veteran free agents like Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr. to supplement Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, and company.

Soon after securing their quarterback of the future, the Ravens went to work getting him acquainted with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Monken immediately advocated for empowering his quarterback, opting to abandon the huddle-first offense of Jackson’s past in favor of an attack that allows Jackson to audible and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.

Now Monken has taken that empowerment a step further, allowing Jackson input into the offense’s playbook design, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. Apparently, Jackson was browsing social media when he stumbled across some routes that piqued his interest. He sent them to his position coach, Tee Martin, and Martin forwarded them to Monken. Monken agreed with Jackson’s assessment and added them to the playbook.

Big money. New targets. New play-caller who values Jackson’s input. If Jackson had any doubts that the Ravens were dedicated to setting him up for success, he can probably put those doubts to rest.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of Charm City:

  • After experimenting a bit at his fourth NFL position, Ravens four-time Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard was back to his normal position this week at practice, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. The fullback/tight end hybrid had put in triple-duty in his first two NFL seasons, playing on the defensive line, as well. Lately, after his return from the physically unable to perform list, Baltimore has had Ricard working on the offensive line, potentially setting him up to compete for the open left guard spot. While Project Pat’s latest project wasn’t exactly a failure, he told head coach John Harbaugh that it was perhaps a project “for next year.” For now, Ricard was happy to be back in the role he’s comfortable with, a role he’s seen consistent success in.
  • Ravens cornerback Trayvon Mullen was all over the Ravens transaction reports in July. He was released after failing to disclose a non-football injury before eventually being brought back and assigned to the reserve/NFI list. While Baltimore clearly sees something in the young Clemson alum, it seems they won’t be seeing it this year. According to Hensley, Mullen underwent toe surgery and could potentially miss the entire season in recovery. This adds to the litany of cornerback injuries the Ravens are currently dealing with. Marlon Humphrey is expected to miss the start of the season, while Rock Ya-Sin, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Damarion Williams, and Arthur Maulet have all been dealing with preseason injuries. The team signed Ronald Darby to address the festering wound, but Darby is coming back from a major injury himself after his 2022 season ended early with a torn ACL.
  • As if Baltimore’s cornerbacks situation wasn’t bad enough, backup corner Daryl Worley informed Zrebiec this week that he’s been moved full-time to safety now. Worley claims that he hasn’t taken reps at cornerback at all this summer. Worley follows Brandon Stephens who also recently made the move back to his drafted position this offseason. This may be a testament to how confident the Ravens are in their young group of corners and new veterans to step up this year, but if things get much worse for the Ravens secondary, Worley and Stephens may find themselves bumping back out to cornerback, something Worley says he’s capable of doing if necessary.

Latest On Ravens, RB J.K. Dobbins

J.K. Dobbins was not one of the players around the league who skipped mandatory minicamp this past week, but his situation is nevertheless a key talking point at the moment. The Ravens running back’s contract status appears to be an issue as he enters the final year of his rookie deal.

Dobbins has shown plenty of potential when on the field, but a major knee injury suffered in August 2021 has limited the occasions on which he has been available. The 24-year-old figures to find himself atop the depth chart this season, after the Ravens elected not to add to their backfield (one which also includes Gus Edwards and Justice Hill). The matter of working out a new contract is weighing on Dobbins, however.

“The business side is very hard. It’s very different,” he said during an interview with WJZ-TV. “You saw with [quarterback] Lamar [Jackson]… It’s never just roses and daisies. It can be hard at times and it’s business though” (h/t ESPN’s Jamison Hensley).

With an average of 5.9 yards per carry during his career (albeit one which has been limited to 26 combined regular and postseason games), Dobbins could be in line for a signficant raise in the near future. The Ravens are open to the idea of extending him, and their decision not to add to their backfield in free agency or the draft speaks to their confidence in his ability to remain highly efficient over the course of a full campaign. The Ohio State product was not a participant in practice during minicamp, however.

Head coach John Harbaugh indicated that he expected Dobbins to be available for team drills, but added that a recovery from a reported soft-tissue ailment should take place in time for training camp. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken added his desire to see him participate in minicamp, along optimism for when Dobbins is back on the field, though the latter declined to confirm or deny that he is currently injured during his interview.

Dobbins has publicly expressed frustration with his lack of usage as a true lead back in the past, something which no doubt serves as a potential obstacle to team and player reaching agreement on an extension. His value will also be affected by this year’s free agent market, one which has seen the RB position as a whole continue to be devalued. In any case, Dobbins is eyeing a pact allowing him to remain with the Ravens for the foreseeable future.

“So, the thing I can say is – I would love to be a Baltimore Raven for the rest of my career,” he said. “I would love to because I love the city, I love the people. It feels like family here. It feels like my second home. And I hope that happens.”

AFC North Notes: Browns, Monken, Ravens

With Jim Schwartz returning to Cleveland after 28 years, then as a scout, now as defensive coordinator, there are some expected changes to how the Browns‘ defense will get things done. Thanks to Mary Kay Cabot of, we have a bit of insight into just how things might change in the secondary under Schwartz.

At safety, the team exchanged starter John Johnson III with Juan Thornhill while also bringing in veteran Rodney McLeod, as well. Schwartz brings two interesting factors to the safety position: he likes to play three at one time often and he expects versatility. He doesn’t strictly prescribe to free and strong safety assignments but more often tends to focus on sides of the field. Grant Delpit, Thornhill, and McLeod will be interchangeable and will be asked to line up in many areas.

Versatility will be expected of the cornerbacks, as well, as Schwartz has reportedly been crosstraining all of Cleveland’s defensive backs in the slot. This is welcome news for Greg Newsome II, who reportedly wanted to play more to his strengths on the outside this year. He won’t solely work outside, but with Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson also getting work as nickelbacks this summer, Newsome won’t be asked to shoulder the load in the slot alone.

Here are a few more rumors from around the AFC North:

  • Schwartz is excited to be bringing together two strong pass rushers in Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith on the Browns’ defensive line, according to Cabot. After a year in which Jadeveon Clowney failed to mesh with Garrett, Schwartz is excited about the flexibility that Smith brings to the table. For one, he’s already had the experience of working across from talented pass rushers like Danielle Hunter, Preston Smith, Matt Judon, Terrell Suggs, and Elvis Dumervil. Secondly, Smith provides a versatile attack that allows him to rush from either side, as well as from the interior, when needed.
  • After four years under a huddle-first Greg Roman offense, the Ravens will allow quarterback Lamar Jackson a bit more agency in the offense under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. According to a report from ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, Jackson will be given more freedom to audible and make adjustments at the line this season. This is not completely foreign to the recently extended quarterback. Baltimore experimented with this type of offense in a Week 2 game last year against the Dolphins as a counter to Miami’s pressure package. In that game, Jackson threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns while adding 119 yards and a touchdown on the ground, as well. The Ravens will hope to see more of that in 2023, as Jackson is presented with more opportunities to truly lead the offense.
  • We mentioned about two weeks ago that Ravens second-year tackle Daniel Faalele was a candidate to replace former starting left guard Ben Powers, who departed for Denver in free agency in March. Knowing Faalele’s importance in his current role as one of the team’s primary backup tackles, we boiled it down to a battle between Ben Cleveland and John Simpson. A recent report from Hensley, though, claims that head coach John Harbaugh spoke highly of Faalele at the position and refused to rule him out as a potential starter. He praised Simpson’s performance in the position, as well, but it may be time to start considering Faalele as one of the top candidates to start next year.

Lamar Jackson, Eric DeCosta Address Ravens Extension, Other Teams’ Interest, WR Moves

One of the NFL’s longest extension journeys ended earlier Thursday, with Lamar Jackson signing his five-year Ravens contract. Jackson agreed to a $52MM-per-year accord, making him — in terms of average salary — the NFL’s highest-paid player.

This concluded a strange process, one that featured the quarterback operating without an agent. Jackson requested a trade and announced this publicly, indicating he informed the Ravens he wanted out in early March. No team is believed to have expressed serious interest, though Jackson said (via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley) he did hear from clubs during his period on the franchise tag. After it became clear Jackson’s hope of a Deshaun Watson-level guarantee at signing would not come to pass, he inked the five-year, $260MM Ravens deal.

Although Jackson requested a trade, he declined to say what changed between then and his signing. While the Jalen Hurts $51MM-AAV contract would be the most obvious development between those two points, Jackson said the Eagles quarterback’s extension did not affect his. Jackson also curiously said (via’s Sherree Burress) he was not interested in other teams’ overtures, pointing out — trade request notwithstanding — he always wanted to be a Raven.

Jackson was connected to nearly half the league this offseason, but an unexpected number of teams made it clear they were not pursuing the former MVP. The lack of genuine interest — at least, at Jackson’s long-reported price point — did surprise Ravens GM Eric DeCosta, who placed the nonexclusive franchise tag ($32.4MM) on the sixth-year quarterback in March.

Was I surprised? Probably a little bit, but in the end, every team has to look at who they are, how they’re built, what’s important to them,” DeCosta said, via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. “I always feel like one of the advantages to free agency is when you have a guy on your team, you know exactly who he is, you know how he’s wired, you know what’s important to him. Other teams don’t know that, you know?

Through either early reports or direct denials of a pursuit, the Dolphins, Jets, Patriots, Colts, Texans, Titans, Commanders, Lions, Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Seahawks were linked to being against going after Jackson. The Raiders instead signed Jimmy Garoppolo to replace Derek Carr, who signed with the Saints ahead of unrestricted free agency. Jackson said Thursday he will continue to represent himself, though he noted (via The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec) agents did court him this offseason.

A player of Jackson’s abilities being available at 26 would seemingly have enticed QB-needy teams, but a few spoke out against the lofty guarantee Jackson was reported to be seeking. After Hurts’ deal followed other post-Watson QB accords in being far from fully guaranteed, the Ravens finalized their Jackson re-up. Still, the AFC North team was prepared to match almost any offer that emerged.

We respected his position and his feelings, but we were still having a tougher time,” DeCosta said, via Florio, of the Jackson talks. “But in the end, we felt like our deal, that the deals that we had made, we felt they were credible deals, we felt they were strong deals, and we felt like we were in a position to, not that we could match every single deal, but we felt like we would be able to match most deals and that if a team were willing to do a deal that we couldn’t match would be very hard for that team to do that type of deal. Not impossible, but very difficult.”

Jackson’s full contract numbers have not surfaced, but CBS Sports’ Joel Corry reports the extension comes with a record-setting $72.5MM signing bonus, which breaks Dak Prescott‘s previous standard. The contract comes with $80MM in 2023, Florio tweets, adding the first three years are guaranteed. This deal also includes a no-trade clause and a clause that prevents a 2028 franchise tag, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones adds.

Russell Wilson‘s $124MM still represents the NFL’s second-highest full guarantee, with teams successfully managing to make Watson’s Browns pact a leverage-based outlier. Considering how much full guarantees came up during the Jackson negotiations, it will be interesting to see how close to Watson the three-time Pro Bowler landed here.

The Ravens have added Odell Beckham Jr. and first-rounder Zay Flowers to their receiving corps. While DeCosta also said (via Florio) he had probably done a poor job of assembling a quality receiving corps around his run-oriented QB, Jackson said he did not mandate the team sign OBJ and trade for DeAndre Hopkins. Linked to making such a request, Jackson confirmed (via Zrebiec) he asked DeCosta if the team had room for the wideouts. Even as his trade request still stood, Jackson helped recruit Beckham to Baltimore.

Jackson plans to report to Ravens OTAs at some point and said (via CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson) he began to feel all the way back from his PCL injury in April. After reports indicated Jackson would be back well before season’s end, the Ravens kept ruling out their QB — to the point it became a controversial topic. Jackson has failed to complete each of the past two seasons, inviting questions about his durability and how his play style would hold up in the long run. Some connected the longer-than-expected absence to Jackson’s contract uncertainty. With this in the past, via Jackson receiving full clearance to return, the 2018 first-rounder has spoken with new Baltimore OC Todd Monken.

With this rather eventful piece of business behind them, the Ravens will try and build a playoff team in a conference that has gained strength this offseason. Jackson will obviously be the top determinant in Baltimore being able to qualify for a fifth postseason bracket in six years.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Browns, Awuzie

Allen Robinson passing his physical will send him to a fourth NFL team. The Rams will assume much of Robinson’s 2023 payout — as a result of the three-year, $46.5MM deal they authorized in 2022 — and could only offload that contract for a 17-spot jump in the seventh round. The Steelers adjusted Robinson’s contract further before the trade became official, with Ian Rapoport of indicating (via Twitter) the wide receiver will collect a $3.84MM signing bonus from his new team. That will help reduce his cap hit. As for 2024, Rapoport adds Robinson’s base salary will drop from $15MM to $10MM. Two void years are also present on Robinson’s Steelers deal, per OverTheCap, which indicates the 10th-year veteran will be tied to a $5MM cap number this year and a $10MM hit in 2024. While Robinson’s $5MM 2023 salary is locked in, nothing is guaranteed for 2024.

The Steelers sought an experienced option at receiver, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac, due to second-year players George Pickens and Calvin Austin being expected to play significant roles in 2023 (Twitter link). Robinson will join Diontae Johnson, who is going into his fifth season, as veteran options. This might lead to the Steelers addressing other positions with their Day 2 draft capital; the team has taken eight wideouts on the draft’s second day since 2013.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Four years after working together on a dysfunctional Browns team, Odell Beckham Jr. and Todd Monken reunited with the Ravens. Beckham said he and the recently hired Baltimore OC have a great relationship. In 2019, however, Monken served as a non-play-calling OC under Freddie Kitchens, who was fired after one season. Midway through that disappointing Browns slate,’s Mary Kay Cabot notes Beckham initiated a clear-the-air meeting with Monken in an effort to move parties onto the same page. Browns wideouts perceived Kitchens and the team’s QBs at the time to be “cliquey,” and the disconnect led to shouting matches between wideouts and coaches. The Browns disbanded the Beckham-Baker Mayfield partnership midway through the 2021 season. Although Monken ran the offensive meetings during the week in 2019, Cabot adds the future Georgia staffer did not have much play-calling input. The Ravens will count on Monken, who now has a third NFL OC opportunity, and OBJ to elevate their offense next season.
  • Amari Cooper may miss some offseason time due to a core surgery he underwent this offseason. Cooper did not miss any games last season, but Cabot adds he underwent this procedure in February. Kevin Stefanski said the team will not rush Cooper back, so it stands to reason the ninth-year wideout may not be a full OTAs participant. Cooper, 28, put together his sixth 1,000-yard season in 2022; two years remain on his Cowboys-constructed contract.
  • It might take a bit longer for Chidobe Awuzie to return to work with the Bengals. The veteran cornerback suffered a torn ACL during a Halloween matchup against the Browns. He is targeting a return by Week 1, Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. The Bengals no longer have Eli Apple under contract, but they signed Sidney Jones in free agency. Jones joins Mike Hilton and Cam Taylor-Britt as the top healthy Bengal corners. One season remains on Awuzie’s deal.
  • While the Steelers gave Bud Dupree a physical, Dulac notes the former Pittsburgh first-rounder’s free agency visit did not include contract talks. Dupree, who played for the Steelers from 2015-20, signed a one-year, $3MM deal with the Falcons last week. A number of veteran edge rushers — Yannick Ngakoue, Frank Clark, Leonard Floyd and Jadeveon Clowney among them — remain unsigned. The Steelers will likely be seeking a low-cost option to be their third edge rusher behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith. Malik Reed held that role last year; Reed has since joined the Dolphins.