More than a dozen teams so far have been affected by players making the decision to opt out of the 2020 season due to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. Some teams have been hit harder than others, especially the New England Patriots, who have seen six players opt out, including significant starters.
The Baltimore Ravens have also had, so far, one player choose to opt out of the 2020 season, that being veteran offensive lineman Andre Smith, whom they signed to provide depth at the offensive tackle position this year, behind young starters Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown.
Originally selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the sixth-overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Alabama, Smith entered the starting lineup full-time in 2011 and remained a full-time starter throughout his tenure in Cincinnati.
After signing a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings in 2016, he suffered injuries, which had been becoming a growing problem, limiting him to just four games, and he was released the following year. The Bengals brought him back to provide depth in 2017, but he ended up starting eight games.
He would spend parts of each of the past two seasons with Cincinnati as well, serving as depth and a spot starter, also spending half of the 2018 season with the Arizona Cardinals. In all, he has started 98 of 116 games played.
At 33 years old, it’s fair to wonder if he has played his last down in the NFL. An 11-year career is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and while he may have never lived up to his draft pedigree, having the opportunity to start nearly 100 games is a fairly rare distinction.
While the Ravens have two quality starters at tackle, they are now thin in depth, with Will Holden returning from the 2019 practice squad, and having added Tyre Phillips as a third-round pick during the 2020 NFL Draft.
Smith is actually the second member of the Ravens to take the voluntary opt-out, with veteran return man De’Anthony Thomas having chosen to do so the day before. Thomas was their primary returner last season. Rookie sixth-round pick James Proche will get the first look at the job now.
So far, the Ravens are the only team in the AFC North to have players opt out of the 2020 season, but it wouldn’t be in the least bit surprising if we see more to come. As of right now, there is no end date for players to apply to opt out.