It was reported yesterday that the 49ers have released center Jeremy Zuttah. Could the Baltimore Ravens get yet another lucky break this offseason and reacquire a past starter, whom they traded away for minor compensation, perhaps even at a bargain of his price?
One thing, I think, is clear, and that is that the Ravens are probably not going to put in a waiver claim for the veteran. The team was going to release him because of salary cap concerns before they were able to squeeze out some reward in a minor trade with the 49ers.
But should he clear waivers, which is reasonably likely to happen, I see no reason why Baltimore would not pursue him in the hopes of re-installing him in the starting lineup at center, which is what his role has been for the past few seasons.
Zuttah was one of two starters that the team lost or parted with along the offensive line from last season, and for most of the offseason, it has been a major concern. Recently, they signed veteran right tackle Austin Howard to fill the shoes of Rick Wagner, but he hasn’t even practice yet.
The team did not find any answers in seeking a possible replacement at the center position, even though they were entertaining the possibility early on this offseason of bringing in veteran Nick Mangold, a former Pro Bowl mainstay who is in the twilight of his career.
While Zuttah was certainly not a Pro Bowl talent—yet he made the Pro Bowl last season for the first time as an alternate, replacing the Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey—he is a capable starter and certainly a better option than what the team currently has on its plate.
Following the retirement of John Urschel, and the injury to rookie Nico Siragusa, the job will likely fall to Ryan Jensen, a fourth-year player who has made nine starts due to injury over the course of the past two seasons. He was originally a sixth-round pick of theirs in 2013.
As for the rest of the offensive line, there is the mainstay of Marshal Yanda at right guard, who remains among the best in the game. Last year’s first-round draft pick, Ronnie Stanley, was a plug-and-play starter at left tackle as a rookie with a promising future, and they also like what they have seen from Alex Lewis, who was a fourth-round pick last year and who spent most of the season starting at left guard.
The Ravens have really rolled the rice quite a bit this offseason, going through the main period of free agency and the draft while failing to address some important needs along the offensive side of the ball, but they have gotten some fortunate opportunities to make up for them later on. Landing Zuttah could be another such opportunity.