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Ravens Insider: Five running backs the Ravens could target in free agency


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Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta was mum on the team’s running back plans Monday morning.

“I understand the question,” he said during the team’s news conference officially announcing a four-year extension for defensive tackle Justin Madubuike. “but talking about a market on the eve of free agency doesn’t seem like a smart thing.”

Not long after, the NFL’s legal tampering period opened at noon — the time when teams can contact agents about free agents — and the market did the talking for him.

One of the top options was former New York Giants star Saquon Barkley, who reportedly agreed to a three-year, $37.75 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles that could be worth up to $46.75 million and includes $26 million fully guaranteed at signing.

The Chicago Bears reportedly agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal with former Eagles running back D’Andre Swift, while multiple reports had the Tennessee Titans giving the same offer to ex-Dallas Cowboys back Tony Pollard. Then the Green Bay Packers swooped in to reportedly land Josh Jacobs.

Both Swift’s and Pollard’s deals came in at a higher value than what Pro Football Focus had projected, and that could be meaningful to how Baltimore approaches their needs at the position with Justice Hill, Keaton Mitchell and Owen Wright, a practice squad player, the only backs on its roster.

For one, it means someone like Derrick Henry, the former Titans star, could be well out of the Ravens’ price range based on the price tags of the deals so far.

For another, the Ravens are typically not aggressive in the early stages of free agency, they already made a splash by signing Madubuike and they haven’t had a clear-cut No. 1 running back since the days of Ray Rice.

Still, Baltimore will need to add running backs. Here’s who might be an option in free agency:

Austin Ekeler

A versatile back, the 28-year-old had 628 rushing yards and five touchdowns while catching 51 passes for 436 yards and another score for the Los Angeles Chargers last season. But he also averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and his average rushing yards over expected (minus-0.3 per carry) were the second lowest of his career. He also had five fumbles. He’s not far removed from being one of the most dynamic players in the NFL, however, and could have more left in the tank after a disappointing 2023 campaign.

Devin Singletary

Singletary has topped the 800-yard mark rushing each of the past three seasons with the Buffalo Bills and then the Houston Texans last year and has averaged 4.6 yards per carry in his career. He also caught 30 passes for 193 yards in 2023, still averaged 4.2 yards per carry behind a woeful Texans offensive line and is projected to get $4.3 million per year, according to PFF. But he’s also similar to a player they already have in Hill.

AJ Dillon

An even less expensive option would be Dillon, who is projected to get a two-year, $6.5 million contract. He also averaged just 3.4 yards per carry for the Packers last season, though, and ranked 38th in yards after contact per carry (2.4) and 47th in missed-tackle rate (6.7%). Still, at 247 pounds, he’s a solid short-yardage back and a capable receiver out of the backfield.

Titans Colts Football
Colts running back Zack Moss (21) runs past Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard, center, and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting during the second half Sunday in Indianapolis.
Michael Conroy/AP
Zack Moss, running against the Titans in October, had career highs in rushing yards (794), rushing touchdowns (five), receptions (27) and total yards (986) while splitting time with Jonathan Taylor for the Colts last season. (Michael Conroy/AP)

Zack Moss

Moss had career highs in rushing yards (794), rushing touchdowns (five), receptions (27) and total yards (986) while splitting time with Jonathan Taylor for the Indianapolis Colts last season. He also had a 10-plus yard gain on more than 10% of his carries, and at a projected $3.75 million per year would be an affordable option. But returning to Indianapolis could also be an option for the 26-year-old.

One of their own

Gus Edwards led the Ravens with 13 touchdowns last season, though most were from only a few yards out or closer, and his 4.1 yards per carry were the fewest of his career. Worse yet, he’s already carrying $1.8 million in dead money on this year’s salary cap after the Ravens didn’t extend him. J.K. Dobbins, meanwhile, has been injured for much of his time in Baltimore, missing more games than he has played, including nearly all of last season after suffering a season-ending torn Achilles tendon in Week 1. Dobbins would be a cheap and familiar option at a projected $2 million, but he also might wish to pursue a new home.

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