Ravens free agency projections: Clowney stays, Huntley goes

'First Take' gets heated about Lamar's MVP season (2:21)

Stephen A. Smith and the "First Take" crew debate whether Lamar Jackson's MVP season was a success. (2:21)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Queen was among the last in the Baltimore Ravens' locker room after their AFC Championship Game loss, talking with quarterback Lamar Jackson about the pain of coming up short.

Queen and Jackson spoke about how they wouldn't let their Super Bowl hopes slip away again, but they understood they may not get the chance to achieve them together. Like many on a team that finished with the best regular-season record in the NFL, Queen will be an unrestricted free agent next week and realizes that the Ravens will likely have a much different look in 2024.

"That's why we wanted to get where we wanted to get to," Queen said a day after the 17-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. "That's why it definitely stings a lot."

The Ravens went from being one win from the Super Bowl to facing one of their most critical offseasons in recent memory. Baltimore has 23 free agents who accounted for 8,613 snaps last season.

Baltimore's challenge is to add more playmakers and keep integral pieces from last season's 13-4 team despite not having a tremendous amount of flexibility. Baltimore is projected to have eight picks in this year's draft, including the No. 30 pick in a 32-pick first round, and needs to create more salary cap room. The Ravens had about $13 million in cap space before placing the $22.102 million franchise tag on defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.

The work to keep the Ravens as a Super Bowl contender begins Monday, when the negotiating period of free agency starts.

"I don't really subscribe to the idea of windows opening and closing," Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said at the end of the season. "I'd like to believe that with careful roster building and good drafting and development of players, the window is going to always be open."

The Ravens' free agents combined to produce 19 of the team's 55 touchdowns (35%) and 27 of Baltimore's 60 sacks (45%).

The list of free agents include the Ravens' top two running backs (J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards); both starting guards (Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson); the team's most experienced wide receiver (Odell Beckham Jr.); two former draft picks who became Pro Bowl players (Queen and Devin Duvernay); two edge rushers who combined for 18.5 sacks (Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy); and the defensive back who finished second in the NFL in interceptions (Geno Stone).

"It's going to be very, very different," Van Noy said. "But I think any time you have the core that they have here -- with the young stars that they have -- and a quarterback, they've always got a chance."

The biggest holes to fill are at running back, offensive line and outside linebacker. But it's a team that returns six Pro Bowl players, including the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player in Jackson. Here is a look at some key Ravens players who are projected to stay and go in free agency:

Projected to stay

DE Jadeveon Clowney: The former No. 1 overall pick is in line for a raise from last year's one year, $2.5 million deal after tying a career-high 9.5 sacks and playing in every game for the second time of his 10-year career. The Ravens, who need a proven pass-rusher to pair with Odafe Oweh, should have the edge over other teams because he was such a great fit in their defense and locker room. According to coach John Harbaugh, Clowney's agent told him at the NFL combine that this was the first time that Clowney had ended a season happy.

CB Ronald Darby: The Ravens didn't feel the loss of No. 1 cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who missed six games due to injuries, because of Darby. He was a more than capable starter who was sixth in the league in passer rating allowed and had the lowest average target separation (0.9 yards), according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Darby should be near the top of players that Baltimore wants to retain.

LB Malik Harrison: This would be an under-the-radar signing that would help the Ravens in many ways. Harrison can play both inside and outside linebacker as well as contribute on special teams.

Projected to leave

LB Patrick Queen: His departure has been expected since 2022, when Baltimore traded for middle linebacker Roquan Smith and signed him to a five-year, $100 million deal. It seemed unlikely the Ravens were going to invest heavily in another inside linebacker, especially after drafting Queen's potential replacement in Trenton Simpson in the third round last year. Queen will be among one of the top defensive free agents this offseason, and he could reunite with former defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who is the new head coach with the Seattle Seahawks.

FS Geno Stone: This is a situation where Stone will likely leave as much for opportunity as money. He made the most of his snaps last season, finishing with seven interceptions. But Stone knows the Ravens are set at safety with Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams, and he won't crack the starting lineup unless they are injured again.

QB Tyler Huntley: The Ravens appear set to move on from Huntley, who was 3-7 (including playoffs) as a fill-in starter for Jackson over the past three seasons. Baltimore seemed to be preparing for life without Huntley late last season when the team added quarterback Malik Cunningham to the 53-man roster.