The Baltimore Ravens are coming off of a disappointing season, and for the first time in a long time, that disappointing season was the result of a sluggish offense. Whether it was the result of poor blocking or the inability of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson to consistently get the Baltimore offense going, the Ravens offense has been anemic for most of the season.
Back in April, we learned the Baltimore Ravens had hired former Cleveland Browns’ General Manager Ozzie Newsome to be their new team President. The move came as a surprise, but not an unwelcome one. Newsome has been widely regarded as one of the best GM’s in the entire NFL, and had a successful run with the Ravens from 1999 to 2004, helping them to become Super Bowl Champions. Since then, he’s been a frequent guest at the Senior Bowl, and has been hired by a number of teams as a consultant.
The Baltimore Ravens underwent a complete overhaul this offseason. They lost some of their best players in free agency and traded away some of their most promising draft picks. This has led many pundits to suggest that the team were destined to finish bottom of their division and be the NFL’s worst team. However, if the Ravens are to avoid that indignity, they will need to find new players quickly.
The Baltimore Ravens are in need of a linebacker, and Avery Williamson is still unsigned.
There’s a good chance these two teams will team up before the start of the 2021 NFL season.
L.J. Fort has been released by the Baltimore Ravens for the season.
LB LJ for the #Ravens Following the MRI, a source confirmed that Fort had torn his ACL. He’ll miss the rest of the season, but he should be able to return next year. There was no further damage except a clean rip.
August 22, 2021 — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet)
The Ravens’ defense has always been a strength, going back to the early 2000s. They take pleasure in having a defense that includes hard-hitting defensive backs and safeties, as well as defensive linemen who aren’t afraid to put their heads down and steamroll the quarterback. The Ravens have been a strong football club over the last several years, thanks to Lamar Jackson’s tremendous success since his NFL debut.
They’ve reached the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, and John Harbaugh was named Coach of the Year in 2019.
The Ravens will be expected to have a top-of-the-league defense once again in 2021. They lost a few important players to free agency (Matthew Judon, for example), but they had a successful draft, bringing in outstanding Penn State pass rusher Odafe Oweh.
However, with the regular season less than a month away, the Ravens’ linebacker room was dealt a devastating blow. L.J. Fort, a veteran, was lost.
Avery Williamson, a free agent, joins the team.
The Baltimore Ravens’ unexpected need for LB depth may be solved by Avery Williamson.
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images/Avery Williamson
Williamson has six years of NFL experience, having played for the Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, and most recently, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Williamson has 607 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 27 quarterback hits, five forced fumbles, and four interceptions in his six-year NFL career. Despite a below-average performance with the Jets, Williamson has the track record of a guy who can easily fit into a playoff-caliber defense. Williamson has more trouble dropping in pass coverage than the typical LB, but he is a powerful run defender who can help any NFL club.
In 2018, Williamson agreed to a three-year deal with the Jets. He did not, however, see it through to the end. This past season, the veteran LB was dealt to the Steelers as each made their separate playoff pushes.
Williamson, who is still a free agent, would be a great addition to the Ravens’ now-depleted linebacker room. Baltimore has to find a replacement for Fort as quickly as possible, and Williamson would presumably accept a one-year deal at a low salary.
Williamson may still be of interest to the Steelers.
On paper, the Ravens seem to have a clear route to acquiring Williamson on a team-friendly contract. The Steelers, though, may still be interested in seeing the veteran LB return to Pittsburgh, according to an April article by “Behind the Steel Curtain”:
The Steelers’ inside linebacker position would be locked down if inside linebacker Avery Williamson returned. With only one signing, the defense would have a depth of defenders capable of playing in most circumstances. Inside linebacker Devin Bush, Vince Williams, and Robert Spillane all have genuine starting experience, and the defense would have a depth of defenders capable of playing in most situations. Williamson is a tackling machine and a huge man who is a threat in the run game. He’d battle with Vince Williams for the buck linebacker position and contribute on early downs, based on his skill set.
Behind the Steel Curtain, by Michael Beck
Williamson has been a free agent for quite some time, so it’s unknown how serious the Steelers are in signing him. Even so, it’s something to think about. If the Ravens want to improve their LB room before Week 1, they may face some inter-divisional competition.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
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