It was only a couple of days ago that the Baltimore Ravens released their presumed starting running back Justin Forsett, who was scheduled to earn a base salary of $3 million this season. Many in the know, however, warned that it might not be a long parting, and that he would soon find his way back.
Yesterday, however, the team announced that they have officially re-signed the former Pro Bowl running back. While no contract details have yet been announced, it would not be surprising to learn that it is of the one-year, veteran-minimum variety, which would represent a notable pay cut for Forsett.
Still, the move does not appear to have been motivated entirely by the salary cap. The Ravens had two players that they wanted to move on injured reserve to give at least one of them the opportunity later in the season to return to the 53-man roster, and in order to do so, they would have had to make the initial roster.
Those two players were safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Carl Davis, both of whom have now been moved to injured reserve. In their place were added free agent Devin Hester and the returning Forsett, who is now one of four running back on the roster.
It is unclear what sort of pecking order there might be with his return, even if he clearly holds seniority. But with rookie Kenneth Dixon currently recovering from an MCL injury, there is likely to be an opportunity for all three running backs to contribute.
Forsett originally signed with the Ravens in 2014 and ended up in the starting lineup. He ended up having by far his most prolific season, rushing for over 1200 yards and earning the first and only Pro Bowl bid of his career while averaging over five yards per rush attempt.
The 30-year-old veteran was having a fine season last year when he suffered a broken arm in the second half of the year, after which then-rookie Buck Allen started. He and former Browns running back Terrance West round out the four-player running back depth chart that the Ravens currently employ.
While one might assume that Forsett might simply slide back into the starting lineup, the job may be kept with Allen, or at the very least, Allen may be used rotationally as a third-down back, as he proved pretty effective in the passing game in 2015—more so than Forsett.
Regardless of his role on the field, Forsett has in his two years with the Ravens also become a locker room fixture and a veteran presence that has evolved into a bit of a leadership role for some of the younger offensive players on the team, and his re-signing allows them to keep that presence with them.