Pundits Say Veteran Receiver Remains a Necessity for Ravens

Should the Ravens Re-Sign L.J. Fort?

Count Baltimore Beatdown’s Jakob Ashlin as one of the pundits who was surprised the Ravens didn’t pick up the 2021 contract option for L.J. Fort.

“[Patrick] Queen and Malik Harrison both have plenty of upside, but the Ravens should not let another good veteran linebacker leave when the cost is so low,” Ashlin wrote. “The front office was fortunate to find Fort, and he has been integral to their success. Queen definitely could take a leap forward in his development next season, and I would like to see Harrison get more snaps. Still, why not keep Fort for a little over $2 million?”

The move came as a surprise to Ashlin because of how involved Fort was in the defense last season. He made eight starts finishing with 53 tackles, two tackles for loss, and one quarterback hit.

Pundits noted that it’s still possible that Fort could re-sign with the Ravens after testing the free agent market, but it signals a shift to a younger linebacker core.

After drafting Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison last year, Baltimore also re-signed Chris Board to a one-year deal this offseason.

“Queen is 21 and his potential sidekick, Malik Harrison, is 23,” Zrebiec wrote. “At the age of 25, Board is the graybeard of a group that also includes 22-year-old Kristian Welch and 24-year-old Otaro Alaka. Whether it’s Daryl Smith or Josh Bynes or Fort, most Ravens teams in the post-Ray Lewis years have had a veteran inside linebacker, even in some cases, just occupying a supporting role.”

“Moving on from Fort — and it’s not completely out of the question that he comes back down the road at a reduced rate — puts the onus on Queen and Harrison and even Board, who has been around since 2018, but mostly in a special teams role. Queen and Harrison, first- and third-round picks last year, had uneven rookie seasons. They flashed enough to show why the Ravens wanted to draft them. But they also had enough ups and downs to reveal just how much progress they need to make before the start of the 2021 season. They need to grow up fast.”

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