Should the Ravens Bring Back Bynes or Go Shopping?
Matthew Judon appears to be the talk of Ravens Nation since the beginning of the offseason. There are significant positions of need, and while keeping Judon in-house is a priority for Eric DeCosta, there is another glaring hole in the defense. ILB is a concern. Does Josh Bynes leaving create just as big of a hole in the middle of the defense as OLB?
Once a strength, now a concern?
Isn’t it crazy how one season changes the outlook of a player? Last season, around this time, fans were fully confident in the abilities of Patrick Onwuasor. The concern and battles that the team was concerned about were Kenny Young versus Chris Board for the right to stand next to Peanut on the field of battle. Now where we as fans once saw ILB as a strength, with the departure of C.J. Mosely and the decline in play of Patrick and company, it is a glaring weakness.
From the streets to starting
Early in the 2019 season, the entrance of L.J. Fort and Bynes helped stopped the bleeding. Bynes came in after the Cleveland Browns’ beatdown to help sure up the middle, and he had one heck of a day. #57 had 1-pass-defense and one interception in the first half of that game.
Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun had this to say about the former Super Bowl Champion:
“Bynes, 30, has played nine seasons in the NFL, sometimes as a starter, which isn’t unusual until you learn he was undrafted out of Auburn. But he started against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, just four days after signing, and might have turned in the best performance of the season from any Ravens inside linebacker.”
Looking at Bynes’ overall 2019 stats, he made 46-combined-tackles 1-sack and 1-interception. Baltimore is aware of what he brings to the table, even at the age of 31. Unfortunately, so does Josh’s agent. L.J. Fort would be the easiest comparison contract-wise. If Bynes were willing to accept similar pay, Eric DeCosta would’ve already extended the offer.
Fort signed a 2-year $5.5M deal in November 2019. According to RSR Capologist, Brian McFarland, the team has projected cap space of $31.4M, so space is there to make this work. Should Bynes agree to similar terms, the Ravens could go into the draft with slightly more confidence than before.
Should the Ravens test Free Agency to pick out another MLB. Here are a few options.
Free Agency Options
Apparently, 155-tackles, 3-sacks, 1-forced-fumble, and 1-interception is a stat-line that is frowned upon in “Titletown, USA”. I say this because the Packers appear ready to move on from their man in the middle. According to Dairylandexpress.com, he’s just par.
“A starting-caliber inside linebacker is right up there on the Green Bay Packers‘ list of needs along with wide receiver. Despite Blake Martinez racking up tackles on tackles on tackles over the past few seasons, it’s certainly a case of his stats looking better than his actual play.”
Dependable ILBs are extremely valuable in Don Martindale’s scheme. The now highest-paid defensive coordinator in the league would easily plug and play this high-motor guy. Baltimore does not currently have an ILB on the roster getting paid above $2M. Martinez is looking to cash in around the $15M but once he realizes his number is more around $8-9M, he may change his tone and sign with Baltimore.
This former Ravens’ price tag could go up based on his 2019 numbers. 37-tackles, 5-sacks and a fumble recovery.
Rotowire had this to say about the young 26-year-old former Tennessee Titan
“Correa had his best statistical season, reaching career-high marks in sacks and tackles. He surged to close the campaign, getting to the quarterback four times in his last five regular-season contests. He continued his strong performance in the postseason, racking up two additional sacks. Correa could have set himself up for a big payday with his close to the season as he is set to hit free agency in March.”
Here is a very unique situation that could greatly benefit the Ravens. The Los Angeles Rams restricted free agent has a second-round tender on him, meaning if the Ravens were to make an offer above the $3.095M they could have a chance to sign him. If the Rams refuse to match the offer, the Ravens would surrender a second-round pick to sure up the MLB position. Los Angeles refers to Littleton as the “quarterback” of their defense. 134-tackles, 3.5-sacks, 2-ints, 2-forced-fumbles, and 4-fumble-recoveries according to ESPN.com are plenty of reasons to at least throw an offer out there as a feeler.
Go ahead, bash me. Tell me how dumb it would be. Von Miller had an off-year with 8-sacks, and no one batted an eye at the guy set to make $25.6M in 2020. Peanut had a solid 2018 with 59-tackles 5.5-sacks, 2-forced fumbles, 3-pass-defenses and even a pick. In 2019, Peanut was not as flashy and was even inactive a few games as the team tried to stop the run. Bringing him back to the fold keeps continuity and leadership on the team.
There are plenty of options on the market. The biggest factor is the price. I am still sticking to my guns and saying Bynes is the best option. Bringing back another 30+ player would still mean needing to draft for the future, but at least it puts the concern of an immediate fill another year or so down the road.