The Baltimore Ravens are one of the most successful teams of the 21st century. They claimed their first Super Bowl win in 2000 on the back of an all-time great defense and then lifted a second one after a brilliant playoff performance from Joe Flacco in 2012. Around those two triumphs the Ravens have been very successful. They have just three losing seasons this century and have been to the playoffs a total of 11 times with 4 trips to the AFC championship game. Even when they have fallen short of the ultimate goal the Ravens have been a serious threat to the other powerhouses of the AFC.
The Ravens are one of the most stable franchises since their inception, with just three head coaches since they came into existence in 1996 and those two Super Bowls they are something of a model franchise in the NFL. They are known for tough defenses, and this is true in Madden 19 as well.
The Ravens come into Madden 19 with an 82 overall rating. They receive a balanced 83 rating on offense and 83 rating on defense, but their defense plays much better than an 83 and is remarkably stronger than the offense. This is nice for players that like the hard-nosed, old-school defense, but it will be tough to maintain in Madden 19 Franchise Mode. There are some big name players who are in the last year of their contract. Let’s start by looking at the salary cap situation.
Baltimore Ravens Salary Cap
The Ravens start Franchise Mode with a healthy cap situation. They start the preseason of season 1 with 64 players on the roster and $63.5 million in cap space. Just by cutting down to 53 players you can free up a bit more cap space. What can you do with all this cap space?
Well, as well as allowing you to re-sign the impending free agents that you need to, it also means you can get rid of quarterback Joe Flacco if you want to just go with the young speedster Lamar Jackson. This will result in a big 2019 cap penalty (approximately $26 million) but it saves space in season 3 and 4. You have the room to carry him if you want to, but it is easier for your roster construction to just get back as much as you can in a trade and run with Jackson under center.
Baltimore Ravens Impending Free Agents
The Ravens have 21 impending free agents when you start Madden 19. Most are easily replaceable, but there are some who you absolutely must re-sign if you are to maintain the strength of the Ravens team.
The Ravens defensive strength is not thanks to just one or two stars but a whole unit full of strong players, and some of those players are in the final year of their contract. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce (89 OVR), middle linebacker CJ Mosley (87 OVR), and outside linebackers Terrell Suggs (84 OVR) and Za’Darius Smith (83 OVR) are all impending free agents. Losing them all would decimate the Ravens defense, and while Suggs is 35 and should be allowed to leave, Pierce, Mosley, and Smith are all entering the prime of their career and should be re-signed if at all possible.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the defense that will lose important pieces after the first season. Five running backs are impending free agents, as are two wide receivers, two tight ends and the starting center. Even with $60+ million in cap space you won’t be able to hold on to all of these pieces, meaning some tough decisions will have to be made.
Other key free agents: Brandon Carr (CB), Alex Collins (HB), John Brown (WR), Ty Montgomery (HB), Nick Boyle (TE)
Baltimore Ravens Roster Needs
While you do have a quarterback for the future in Lamar Jackson, this Ravens roster needs some polish if it is to compete at the very top of the AFC and bring a third Lombardi Trophy home in Madden 19.
The Ravens roster is solid, but not spectacular. It has just one player with an overall rating above 90, right guard Marshal Yanda, and 6 players with a speed of 91 or more. However there is a strong middle-class to the roster, with 11 players ranging from 83-89 overall.
The priority should be to add some more speed to the Ravens team at key positions. Places like wide receiver need improving so that you have someone that can make big plays and break a game open. Alex Collins is a good back but he isn’t explosive, and while you should bring him back you should also look for a more athletic back to pair with him.
Speed is needed on the defense too. Terrell Suggs’ age and impending free agent status means you need to find a new pass rusher, while you could use a young option at free safety thanks to Eric Weddle’s advancing age and less-than-ideal athleticism. The Ravens could use an improvement at left guard and center too, and the decline of Marshal Yanda is coming too. He is 33 years old and has just two years left on his contract.
If you aren’t willing to pay Michael Pierce and CJ Mosley to stay then you’ll have to spend an early draft pick on a run defender. Someone like David Irving or Steve McLendon could be a cheaper free agent option than re-signing Pierce, but Mosley is trickier to replace without spending a top draft pick, putting you in a bind if you want to also land the fastest receiver available in your season 1 draft.
In short, the Ravens are a good team but it will take some hard work to maintain their level of competition, nevermind improve their overall ability on the field. It won’t be easy to catch up to Kansas City’s speed or Pittsburgh’s explosiveness or even New England’s depth, but it is certainly possible.