The Baltimore Ravens are a short linebacker and Avery Williamson is still a free agent.
There is a clear path for these two parties to join forces ahead of the start of the 2021 NFL season.
Baltimore Ravens just lost LJ Fort for the season
Defense has always been a strength for the Ravens, since the early 2000s. They pride themselves on having a group of hard-hitting defensive backs and safeties, and defensive linemen who aren’t afraid to put their heads down. and rush towards the quarterback. Combined with the great success Lamar Jackson has enjoyed since making his NFL debut, the Ravens have been a good football team in recent years.
They’ve made the playoffs for the past three seasons and John Harbaugh won the Coach of the Year award in 2019.
Heading into 2021, the Ravens expect to field a high-level defense again. They lost a few key pieces via free agency (Matthew Judon, for example) but had a productive project, adding in the remarkable pounding of Penn State Odafe Oweh.
However, with less than a month into the regular season, the Ravens have suffered a heavy blow to their linebacker hall. They lost veteran LJ Fort.
Enter free agent Avery Williamson.
Avery Williamson can solve Baltimore Ravens’ sudden need for LB depth
Williamson is a six-year veteran who spent time with the Tennessee Titans, New York Jets and most recently the Pittsburgh Steelers.
During his six-year NFL career, Williamson recorded 607 tackles, 29 TFLs, 27 quarterback hits, five forced fumbles and four interceptions. Although his brief tenure with the Jets was below average, Williamson has a background of a player who can easily fit into a playoff-caliber defense. He’s struggling to drop pass coverage more than the LB average, but Williamson is a strong running defender – something every NFL team can use.
Williamson signed a three-year contract to join the Jets in 2018. However, he failed to see it in its entirety. The veteran LB was traded to the Steelers last season as they made their respective playoff pushes.
Currently still a free agent, Williamson would make a nice addition to the now exhausted Ravens linebacker room. Baltimore needs to find a replacement at Fort as soon as possible, and Williamson would likely sign a cheap one-year deal.
The Steelers may still be interested in Williamson
On paper, it looks like the Ravens have a clear and easy path to recover Williamson as part of a friendly deal. However, according to an April story from “Behind the Steel Curtain,” the Steelers may still be interested in returning veteran LB to Pittsburgh:
Bringing back inside linebacker Avery Williamson would lock the Steelers to inside linebacker. The inside linebacker room would include Devin Bush, Vince Williams and Robert Spillane with real starting experience, and, with just one signing, the defense would have a depth of defensemen who can play in most situations. Williamson provides a big body that is a threat in the racing game and a tackle machine. Based on his skills, he would compete with Vince Williams for linebacker and secure the first downs.
Michael Beck, Behind the Steel Curtain
Williamson has been in free agency for a while now, so it’s unclear how interested the Steelers really are. Still, it is something to consider. The Ravens may have an interdivisional competition to contend with if they want to strengthen their LB room before Week 1.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.
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