The Baltimore Ravens were the favorites to win the AFC North entering the 2021 NFL season. However, a combination of injuries and inconsistent play thwarted their season. They finished 8-9 and at the bottom of the division for the first time in many years.
It was tough being a Ravens fan this year. Even before the season began, the season outlook took a turn for the worse players began dropping like flies. Starting running back J.K Dobbins tore his ACL during camp. Fellow tailback Justice Hill hurt his achilles and was also done for the year. Then, four days before the season began, the next back up, Gus Edwards, tore his ACL as well. That same day of practice, former Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters suffered a season-ending injury also.
The string of bad luck was so blatant, it became a running joke among NFL fans.
Yet, Baltimore found themselves at 8-3 and leading the division. Unfortunately, the rest of the season got really ugly, as the Ravens lost their final six games of the season.
As Baltimore heads into the off-season, there are some big decisions that need to be made by general manager Eric DeCosta.
Here are the three players that Baltimore must re-sign during 2022 NFL free agency.
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3 Players Ravens Must Re-sign During 2022 NFL Free Agency
3. DL Calais Campbell
Everyone knows, the Ravens are a defense-first football team. It's been that way since the days of Ray Lewis. Yes, they have had some decent offenses along the way. Yes, Lamar Jackson is a game-breaking player at quarterback. But this team still runs through the defense.
This year was no different. Baltimore finished the season allowing a league-best 84.5 rushing yards per game. Campbell had a huge hand in that, posting the 3rd highest stuff totals in his storied career. Campbell helped anchor the defensive line and dominate the line of scrimmage.
A good defense almost always starts up front. If you can't stop an opponent's running game, you are in trouble. It forced linebackers and safeties to creep closer to the line of scrimmage, making them vulnerable to play action and deep passes.
If Baltimore wants to remain a top rushing defense, re-signing Campbell is essential.
2. FB Patrick Ricard
The fullback position in football has seemingly gone by the wayside. Well, outside of places like Baltimore and Philadelphia that is.
Patrick Ricard spent 13 games this season opening holes for whichever running back the Ravens had in there. That's saying something, knowing the revolving door that was Baltimore's backfield this season. Whether it was Latavius Murray, Ty'Son Williams, Devonta Freeman or Lamar Jackson, Ricard often led the way.
The Ravens finished the season 3rd in the NFL in rushing at just under 146 yards per game. That's especially difficult when the passing game is not a significant threat. Ricard is not cheap for fullback standards, as he made almost $4 million in 2021, but he is well worth the price for this offense.
1. Tyler Huntley
Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley filled in admirably for an injured Lamar Jackson down the stretch this season. Not only did he play well, John Harbaugh and the offense did not have to change in Jackson's absence. Knowing the physical toll that Jackson takes rushing the ball so frequently, it would be wise to bring Huntley back.
He is an exclusive rights free agent, along with Gus Edwards. In other words, if the Ravens offer him a one-year contract at the league minimum, he cannot negotiate with other teams.