The Baltimore Ravens made a splash the day before the trade deadline by securing the services of linebacker Roquan Smith via trade. Smith’s debut against the New Orleans Saints was impressive, and his partnership with the up-and-coming Patrick Queen will surely be one to watch for the next few seasons. His addition has solidified a Baltimore defense that has improved throughout the season.
Roquan Smith in his Ravens’ debut:
🟣 82.6 PFF grade
⚫️ 8th among LBs in Week 9
🟣 87.5 run defense grade
⚫️ 5th among LBs in Week 9
— PFF BAL Ravens (@PFF_Ravens) November 9, 2022
Despite acquiring the former Chicago Bears star, the Ravens can still work on their defense. With the injury record they have had recently, Eric DeCosta should look to beef up the defense through some free agent signings if they want to sustain their current form. Strength in depth is important for any playoff side and, at 6-3, the Ravens look primed to clinch the AFC North this year. Adding strong depth and cover could be a difference-maker for John Harbaugh’s side as they approach the back end of the regular season.
The offense has its amenities too. DeCosta should look at some offensive free agents for the Ravens playoff push as well as consolidating his defense. Here are some defensive free-agent targets for the Ravens that make the most sense:
Four Defensive Free Agents That Could Help the Baltimore Ravens Playoff Push
Cornerback Deandre Baker
The Ravens have yet to solve the dilemma with regard to the slot cornerback. The cornerbacks at training camp seemed solid. Rookie Damarion ‘Pepe’ Williams impressed coaches with his drive and energy but has yet to play to the level of the hype. He contends with Kevon Seymour as CB3. Seymour is a trusted veteran with good physicality but, when playing, is undoubtedly a weak spot for the team in pass coverage. 2022 NFL Draft fourth-round pick Jalyn Armour-Davis is at the bottom of the pecking order after a disappointing performance against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.
Enter Deandre Baker. Baker was a first-round pick for the New York Giants in 2019. He showed promise in his rookie year, but off-field issues halted his NFL career greatly. He most recently spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs, playing 10 games for them in two years.
Baker’s time with the Chiefs was disappointing, though that was partly down to a scary non-contact injury that resulted in a broken femur in 2021. He flashed his high-end potential in New York but, with a disrupted career, he failed to further his development in Kansas City. The Ravens could be an ideal landing spot for Baker. The team have two of the best cornerbacks in the league meaning Baker would only be competing for the CB3 role. Physically gifted and at a prototypical size, Baker would also be able to offer inside-outside versatility, meaning he could provide cover for the outside cornerbacks in case of injury too.
At 25, Baker would be an intriguing signing, especially if he finds some form. He would provide good depth with potential upside, making this signing a low-risk one with potentially high rewards. This is what makes Baker a sound defensive free-agent target for the Ravens.
Cornerback/Safety T.J. Carrie
T.J. Carrie most recently spent time with the Ravens practice squad. At 32 years old, Carrie would be nothing more than a depth addition with minimal upside. He would, however, bring good veteran experience to a young defense. While the defensive coordinator has changed since Carrie’s last stint with the Ravens, he would still bring a level of familiarity that can be so useful in playoff runs.
In Baltimore, Carrie would provide safety and slot depth. The team have given Kyle Hamilton an increase in gametime since Marcus Williams’ injury, but they have also had to rely on Geno Stone and Chuck Clark. Stone has been solid, but Clark has struggled a little in coverage.
Chuck Clark is already stressing over watching this in film 😂 pic.twitter.com/4dIYIbxTT8
— Bussin' With The Boys (@BussinWTB) November 8, 2022
Carrie would not only provide an alternate option at the safety and slot positions, but he could also allow the Ravens to show more varying coverage looks. It would rely on how much the Ravens trust Carrie and Hamilton though, as Hamilton would be the one with the versatile role.
For the experience, familiarity, and positional versatility, Carrie would be a good defensive free-agent target for the Ravens. He suffered a tough injury in 2021 but had a solid season that year. Part of whether the Ravens sign him will be dependent on how healthy he is.
Defensive Tackle Linval Joseph
Baltimore have been excellent in stopping the run this season. The run defense has been important to the team’s success, with sturdy performances against the likes of Nick Chubb and Saquon Barkley.
The defensive line has been an underrated aspect of this team. But a defensive free-agent target for the Ravens along the line would not go amiss. At 36, Calais Campbell has quietly been putting together another stellar campaign, but he has missed multiple practices most weeks due to injury. Michael Pierce showed promise at the start of the season but suffered a long-term injury. It has meant that the team has relied on Broderick Washington Jr. and rookie Travis Jones. As a whole, the group has been solid. In particular, Justin Madubuike has been turning heads. However, depth is necessary.
With a need for depth along the line, Linval Joseph would be an astute signing. The 34-year-old was an elite nose tackle at his peak. He would bring good physicality to the team and support the run defense on early downs. He most recently played in 14 games for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021, suggesting he still has some gas in the tank.
Linval Joseph is one of those players that will always be underrated to me. His value and role is rarely appreciated. Finished 2nd among DTs in tackles last season (68). pic.twitter.com/v86iY1GLSl
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) May 9, 2018
Inside Linebacker L.J. Fort
Having L.J. Fort back with the Ravens after his injury would be a fantastic comeback story at the very least.
With Queen and Smith performing at a supreme level, there would be no need for Fort to play much. He would be a solid defensive free-agent target for the Ravens playoff run given that the team could do with some depth at the position. Earlier in the season, Baltimore lost both Josh Bynes and Josh Ross to injury. Ross had a promising preseason despite going undrafted. The loss of both players ultimately resulted in DeCosta striking a deal with the Chicago Bears for Smith.
Fort would provide good depth as the third or fourth inside linebacker. The 32-year-old was a revelation for the Ravens in the 2019 season before following it up with a stellar 2020. 2021 saw him tear his ACL, leaving Queen and Malik Harrison as the starting inside linebackers (Bynes re-joined later that season).
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 9, 2020
The Ravens currently have Smith and Queen locked in as the starters. Behind them, they have Bynes (who is soon expected to return) and Harrison. The Fort signing would give them that extra bit of insurance, especially given that Fort is familiar with the defensive scheme.