The Baltimore Ravens came just short of reaching the Super Bowl and having a chance of fulfilling their ultimate goal. They are facing a critical offseason where they will need to figure out how to get the team over the hump in the 2024 season.
One obstacle in their way is the looming lack of cap space to sign the multitude of free agents they have.
The ESPN staff released their “2024 NFL offseason: Key free agents, draft notes, predictions.” Aaron Schatz’s biggest prediction for the Ravens is, “The Ravens will cut running back Justice Hill, saving $2.5 million on the cap with just $500,000 in dead money.”
According to Spotrac, the Ravens estimated cap space currently is only about $5.65 million. General manager Eric DeCosta will have to figure out how to keep a core that reached the AFC championship together, while trying to add difference making pieces.
The Ravens’ defense has several key free agents that need to be addressed. DT Justin Madubuike and LB Patrick Queen will both be looking for large contracts.
Safety Geno Stone will also be looking for payday after his breakout season. On the offensive side of the ball, they could lose WR Odell Beckham Jr. and OL Kevin Zeitler.
Cutting Hill would be a start to finding some extra cap space to spread around to critical needs.
Ravens Running Back Room Could Feel a Bit Bare
If the Ravens cut Hill they would save some cap space, but they could leave their running back room a bit barren. Currently, the only RBs on the roster are Hill and Keaton Mitchell, who will be coming off an ACL tear.
J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are both free agents, with Dobbins recently being injury plagued and Edwards entering his age 29 season. They could look to bring one of two back on a team friendly deal.
Edwards had 810 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns this season as the lead back for most of the season. Dobbins will be coming off an Achilles tear, so his value may be low as well.
The Ravens may also try and swing big for a superstar veteran like Derrick Henry to get them over the top but with their cap situation that may be difficult to accomplish.
Hill is still only 26-years-old and has shown flashes of talent. He is a talented pass-catcher (4 catches for 34 yards in loss to the Kansas City Chiefs) but does struggle at times pass-blocking.
When Mitchell exploded onto the scene Hill fell out of the rotation and received minimal touches. Cutting the RB could be the difference between losing or keeping another key player.
Drafting a Running Back May Suit Ravens Better
With the cap situation so tight Schatz suggested an alternative path. He wrote, “Then they will use a third-round pick on a young running back to lead a backfield.”
There are no true game-changing running backs entering the draft this season but there are some talented players that could develop into solid stars. Tankathon currently projects, as of Thursday, February 1, the Ravens to use pick 62 (second round) to take Michigan‘s Blake Corum.
Corum is coming off a National Championship season, 1245 rushing yards and a 27 rushing touchdown season.
Texas‘ Jonathan Brooks may be gone by the third round, but Tankathon has a total of five running backs with an overall rank putting them in the third round. This includes Florida State’s talented Trey Benson who could have a high ceiling in the NFL.
Any of these players combined with Mitchell and QB Lamar Jackson‘s running ability will give the Ravens a strong rushing attack for the 2024 season.
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This article was originally published on Heavy.com