If it seems as though our divisional news coverage has been slanted heavily toward the Baltimore Ravens over the course of the past week, then kudos on you for being observant. But if you’ve noticed this trend, then you also know why. To put it blankly, they have had a run of bad luck.
But yesterday they added to their ranks rather than subtracted, even if in doing so they parted from one of their own in a predictable move. Needing help along the offensive line, the Ravens reached a three-year agreement with veteran Austin Howard. They waived tight end Crockett Gillmore with an injury in order to make room on the 90-man roster.
In order to get the housekeeping out of the way, the move to waived Gillmore is basic math. Sustaining a season-ending knee injury, and in the final year of his contract, there was no good reason to keep the tight end on the 90-man roster. It is of course exceedingly unlikely that anybody would claim him, so he would revert to their injured reserve list.
The signing of Howard, while not flashy, does provide an important upgrade for an offensive line that lost two starters from last season and did little to fill in the voids. After right tackle Rick Wagner signed a deal worth nearly $10 million per season in free agency, Baltimore was facing the prospect of starting James Hurst.
Hurst has started 16 games over the past three years, but only due to injuries ahead of him, and he has barely performed at replacement level over that course of time. Howard is not going to make the Pro Bowl, but he should serve as a reasonable starter.
Reportedly, the two sides agreed upon a $16 million deal over the aforementioned three years, with $5.5 million coming in the first season. One can probably expect that the bulk of that first-year salary will come in the form of a signing bonus to reduce his cap hit, given how little fungible cap space they have.
A former undrafted free agent in 2010, the Northern Iowa product, he had the makings of a journeyman, but has solidified himself since. He progressed over three years with the Jets, signing a solid contract with the Raiders in 2014.
Having financial commitments elsewhere long their offensive line, however, Oakland—or wherever they’re from now—released him at the tail end of last month, leaving the Ravens to pounce on yet another late entry to the free market.
Baltimore previously managed to acquire a starting wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin when the Chiefs unexpectedly released him in June. Following an offseason in which the Ravens did very little to address their offense, they did manage to acquire two starters by being patient. It was quite a risk, and they got lucky, but credit to them all the same.