Baltimore Ravens’ NFL free-agent signings 2022: Michael Pierce could boost the pass rush – Baltimore Ravens Blog

NFL free agency is now in operation. We are keeping track of every major signing and trade of the 2022 offseason. Wednesday, April 4, was the start of the new league year. ET, which meant that signings for free agents could be made after that time. ESPN will broadcast the 2022 NFL draft’s first round on April 28.

One deal that was not made official and fell through was the one for Za’Darius Smith (linebacker), who chose not to sign a $35 million, four-year deal with Baltimore on March 17. Smith is now a free agent, and the Ravens continue their search for a pass rusher.

Here’s a list of all 2022 NFL free-agent signees by the Baltimore Ravens and how they will impact the next season.

Michael Pierce, a three time starter for the Ravens in 2017 to 2019, started last season for Minnesota Vikings. He will fill in the role of Brandon Williams, who is a non-restricted free agent. AP Photo/Stacy Bengs, File

The team announced that the Ravens and Pierce reached an agreement on a three year contract. According to a source the deal is for $16.5million and includes $6.5million guaranteed.

What it means: The Ravens now have a replacement to Brandon Williams, their long-time starting nose tackle. He is now a free agent. While Pierce is more versatile and versatile than Williams, his price tag is lower due to durability concerns. Baltimore knows Pierce is an excellent run-stopper, as he played his first four seasons with the Ravens (2016-19), after he was not drafted. Pierce is a better pass rusher. He accumulated 16 quarterback pressures over 123 pass-rush snaps. The Ravens have a chance to see Pierce again on the day Za’Darius Smith, an outside linebacker, leaves. The addition of Pierce lessens Baltimore’s need to use the No. 14th overall pick on Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

The risk is Durability. In Minnesota, Pierce struggled last season to stay on the field. He missed seven games last season with a triceps strain and was forced to miss two more with a non COVID illness. Pierce was concerned about his weight in Baltimore. Pierce weighed 390 lbs when he arrived at minicamp his last season with Baltimore. Coach John Harbaugh sent him off the practice field. Pierce lost 30 pounds before the start of training camp. In his five-year career, he averaged 31 snaps per match.

Marcus Williams is a ball hawk and has 15 interceptions in his five seasons. Brad Mills-USA TODAY sports

ESPN reported that Williams and the Ravens reached an agreement on a five year contract worth $70million. According to a source, the deal includes $37 million guaranteed.

It means that the Ravens have landed a ball-hawking safety they desperately need. Williams has intercepted 15 passes in the last five seasons. This is four more than all Ravens safeties combined. The quarterbacks were not afraid to go deep against Baltimore last season, completing 32 passes with 20-plus yards (second in the NFL). Williams will be the Ravens’ centerfield protector, so teams will have to reconsider doing this. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he allowed only 11 receptions on 25 targets and did not allow touchdowns as the closest defender in coverage.

Here’s what you need to know:

• Ravens’ free-agent signings »
• Tracker: Latest signings and news »
• Grading big moves » | Top 100 FAs »
• Free-agency coverage » | More NFL »

What’s the danger? Will the Ravens have enough cash to adequately address the pass rush? Baltimore continued its trend of investing in the defensive backfield more than at the outside linebacker, by giving Williams a huge contract. Over the past three seasons, the Ravens have given $108million in guaranteed money to Williams and safety Chuck Clark. They also gave $108 million to cornerbacks Marlon Humprey ($128,000) and Marcus Peters ($128,000). The Ravens could be the NFL’s top secondary team, but they only have Odafe Oweh Tyus Bowser, Jaylon Ferguson, and Jaylon Ferguson as edge rushers. Baltimore has also had mixed success signing safeties in free agency. They signed Eric Weddle in 2016, and Earl Thomas in 2019.

Morgan Moses played in 113 consecutive games and was the 40th-ranked offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus. Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire

According to a source: The Ravens and Moses came to an agreement on a $15 million, three-year deal.

It means that the Ravens have either found a solution at right tackle or added insurance at offensive tackle. Moses, a durable and tough player, has played in 113 consecutive matches and was ranked as the 40th-ranked offensive tackle according to Pro Football Focus. Eric DeCosta, Ravens general manager, stated that he needed a better offensive tackle contingency plan after last season’s trade of right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and Ronnie Stanley’s injury which left him with only one game. The Ravens now have Moses and Ja’Wuan James, who didn’t play last season because of an Achilles injury, as options at right tackle. This doesn’t preclude Baltimore from drafting an offensive tackle early in the draft but it lessens the urgency to do so.

What’s the risk: There really isn’t much of one. When dealing with an offensive lineman over 30 (Moses is 31), there’s always the increased chance of a sharp decline in play. With the signing of Alejandro Villanueva (who led the NFL in sacks allowed), the Ravens saw this happen last season. Moses is an absolute bargain at $5million per season (his market price was projected at $7.7million according to Spotrac). Moses can serve as a temporary fix for Baltimore’s problem spots. In 2021, four Ravens linemen played at least 60 snaps at right tackle.

Baltimore’s rushing attack is relieved to hear Ricard being returned. AP Photo/Nick Wass

The Ravens announced a 3-year agreement with Ricard.

It means: Ricard was one of the 22 free agents signed by the Ravens. Ricard has been a valuable player in their run-heavy offensive system. Ricard is a 300-pound tank of a player. He plays with the physicality Baltimore loves. For the past three seasons, Ricard has been a Pro Bowl fullback. Baltimore has averaged 180.5 yards per game. Ricard was feared to be earning more elsewhere. Baltimore’s rushing attack is relieved to have Ricard back.

What’s the danger? Wear and tear. Ricard was forced to miss four games last season because of knee, foot, or thigh injuries. Before Baltimore’s game against the Steelers, which was a must-win, Ricard was placed in injured reserve. All this happened in a year Ricard had expanded his role to tight end. He logged a career-high of 555 snaps (57% Ravens’ offensive snaps). It is reasonable to wonder if an increase in workload has led to an increase of injuries. Ricard missed only one game in his two previous seasons. The Ravens hope that Ricard will be able to continue playing in the future.

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