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Baltimore Ravens have serious outside linebacker depth issues: 3 free agent options

Jason Burgos
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Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens have developed some serious reasons to be concerned about their outside linebacker depth, and it is an issue they need to address soon on the free agent market.

Five-year veteran Tyus Bowser is expected to be one of the team’s starting outside linebackers in 2022. However, he is still rehabbing a torn Achilles he suffered in January and has yet to suit up during training camp. It’s an injury with a rehab time that can take anywhere from six to 12 months, so there are no guarantees Bowser will be ready for the start of the season next month.

There are also high hopes for former Michigan star and 2022 second-round pick David Ojabo. Unfortunately, he too is trying to return from a torn Achilles he endured during a March showcase before the NFL Draft. Again, like Bowser, it is unclear how soon he could return.

Related: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Vince Biegel (torn Achilles) to miss season

Making matters work, Vince Biegel — the man receiving the repetitions left by Bowser and Ojabo — had to be carted off the field 10 minutes into practice on Thursday. It has since been revealed that he has, you guessed it, a torn Achilles and is now out for the season. The Ravens’ entire weakside linebacker group is laid up with some major injuries.

It has put Baltimore in a difficult spot that needs to be fixed from the outside. Let’s take a look at some possible LB options still on the free agent market.

Baltimore Ravens will need to go budget linebacker shopping in free agent market

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The Ravens are in a difficult position because there aren’t many strong free agent options available. Especially after both Anthony Barr and Carlos Dunlap recently decided on their homes for 2022. However, Baltimore may have been unable to sign those two veterans anyway. What then are the bargain options on the market?

KJ Wright

KJ Wright is an 11-year veteran and a one-time Pro Bowler (2016). He has had five seasons with 100 or more tackles and eight with 80 or more. While he is certainly long in the tooth, the 2011 fourth-round pick is a super solid player that just had 86 tackles two seasons ago for the Seattle Seahawks.

While he has played as a middle linebacker for much of his career, a chance to play on a competitive team in 2022 should be more than enough reason for the veteran to give the weakside position a try in Baltimore.

Malcolm Smith

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Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Malcolm Smith is another player that has played in the league for over a decade and primarily did it at inside linebacker. But desperate times call for desperate measures and taking a bargain flyer on a player that has had a pair of 100+ tackle seasons and wracked up a 72 in just four starts for the Cleveland Browns two seasons ago seems like a worthwhile move.

AJ Klein

AJ Klein is another decent linebacker on the block who has played nine seasons in the NFL for three different squads. In five of those seasons, he tallied 50 or more tackles and had a career-high 75 for the Buffalo Bills in 2020.

What gives him a leg up over Smith and Wright is he has played all three linebacker spots during his NFL tenure and would likely transition into the Ravens’ weakside position the quickest.