BALTIMORE — The NFL’s roster deadline has passed, and the Baltimore Ravens have trimmed their team down to 53 players. The 53 guys the Ravens retained will continue their work at the castle to prepare for next Sunday’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium.
Between Friday and Saturday, the Ravens waived 27 players and placed four on the injured reserve list. The Ravens also shipped Kamalei Correa to the Tennessee Titans last week for a sixth-round draft pick. This year’s roster cuts saw a different trend than previous seasons, as a handful of high-round draft picks were either released or traded.
Now that the roster cuts are finalized, here are five thoughts.
1. Keeping three quarterbacks was the right move
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the Ravens’ 53-man roster is Baltimore’s decision to keep three quarterbacks – Joe Flacco, Lamar Jackson, and Robert Griffin III. The Ravens have not done so since 2009, when they kept Flacco, Troy Smith, and John Beck.
After watching both Griffin and Jackson throughout the preseason, this was the right call. Even though Jackson looked much better in the final two preseason games than he did in the first two, his arm is still very raw and he still needs to learn when and when not to put his body on the line and absorb hits.
RGIII spent a whole season out of football after a five-year run in the NFL, much of which was spent on injured reserve. Several of Griffin’s injuries were a direct result of taking too many hits. In the preseason, Griffin was willing to throw from the pocket and only run when absolutely necessary. He even displayed an ability to slide, a skill that Griffin said he picked up during his time out of the NFL.
Without a doubt, Flacco is the Ravens’ starting quarterback, and Jackson will likely back him up. Just because the Ravens have three quarterbacks on the roster does not mean that all three will be active on every single gameday. That sounds like a waste, but keeping Griffin in the fold will pay off huge dividends for Jackson’s development. Who knows, if the Ravens get to October or November and feel like Jackson has made huge strides, maybe they shop Griffin around and see if a team in need of a quarterback would consider a trade.
And in the event that Flacco goes down, they already have a Plan B with two quarterbacks and won’t need to sign a backup.
2. Breshad Perriman is officially the Ravens’ biggest draft bust
It’s never fun to point something like this out, especially considering how genuine a guy like Breshad Perriman is, but now that he’s been cut he is now the Ravens’ biggest draft bust in franchise history.
Perriman never got going during his time in Baltimore. After being drafted 26th overall in the 2015 Draft, Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a PCL sprain. Then in a 2016 minicamp practice, he suffered a partially-torn ACL and did not return until late in training camp. He also missed the entire 2017 preseason with a strained hamstring.
This summer, Perriman participated in the entire offseason program for the first time in his career. Although reporters say that this offseason was Perriman’s best, the problems that have plagued Perriman in the past – drops leading to interceptions, lack of aggressiveness on 50/50 passes – continued during preseason games. He did catch a 32-yard touchdown pass from RGIII in the Ravens’ 33-7 win over the Rams on Aug. 9, but that was Perriman’s one shining moment. The rest just was not good enough.
Perriman finishes his Ravens career with 43 receptions for 576 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, he failed to reach 100 reception yards with 77 yards on just 10 receptions. No touchdowns.
Prior to Perriman, Sergio Kindle held the honor as the Ravens’ biggest draft bust. After the Ravens took him in the second round (43rd overall) in the 2010 Draft, Kindle fell down two flights of stairs in the summer and fractured his skull. He played in three games over two seasons for the Ravens with one career tackle. But considering he was a second-round pick, Perriman takes the cake as Baltimore’s biggest bust.
The Ravens and many close to the team will hope for nothing but the best for Perriman. Hopefully he receives (pun intended) an opportunity somewhere else and improves his game. It simply wasn’t working in Baltimore.
3. Keeping Janarion Grant takes Chris Moore and Willie Snead out of ‘danger zone’
After Janarion Grant and Tim White battled it out throughout camp at returner, the Ravens elected to keep Grant, an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers. Both White and Grant coughed the ball up in the second preseason game against the Colts, but Grant rebounded to the point where the coaching staff felt comfortable enough to give him the returner job.
Over the last few weeks, it was rumored that if the Ravens were to cut both Grant and White, wide receivers Chris Moore and Willie Snead would handle the duties at returner. This scenario would have put Moore and Snead into the ‘danger zone’, meaning that running them out to return kicks and punts would increase their chances of suffering an injury.
Both Moore and Snead are expected to take on pivotal roles in the Ravens’ offense this season. Simply put, keeping five receivers with Moore and Snead handling additional return duties was not necessary, especially since Grant proved that he’s capable. Barring injuries, Grant will not see much time on offense. This allows him to put all of his efforts into being a returner.
The Ravens have lacked a consistent returner since Jacoby Jones was in town. Grant has a long way to go, but the Ravens may have found something in him.
4. Inside linebacker and tight end are team’s thinnest positions
For the most part, the Ravens’ roster is pretty stacked, but there are still weak areas. The two that stick out the most are inside linebacker and tight end. Both positions have four players listed, but only three are healthy.
At tight end, the Ravens will count on Mark Andrews, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle to step up while Hayden Hurst recovers from a foot surgery. At inside linebacker, Kenny Young hurt his knee during the first half of Thursday’s game against the Redskins and was spotted on the sideline with a brace on the knee during the second half. If Young’s injury is a multi-week ailment, C.J. Mosley, Patrick Onwuasor, and undrafted rookie Chris Board will carry the load.
Both Hurst and Young’s injuries are big blows. The Ravens drafted Hurst 25th overall and wanted to plug him into the offense right away. Now they likely won’t have him until October, and even then he will probably not be at full speed. Baltimore took Young in the fourth round and he challenged Onwuasor throughout camp, appearing to be one of the most athletic players on the roster. The status of Young’s knee is unknown, but Baltimore keeping him on the 53 probably means that the injury is not long-term.
The depth at tight end and inside linebacker will improve once Young and Hurst return. For now, and likely the first few weeks of the regular season, it’s definitely shaky.
5. Fingers crossed that Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown stay healthy
The Ravens offensive line, along with many other offensive lines in the NFL, struggled in the preseason. Injuries also took a toll, as starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley suffered a knee strain against the Colts and Greg Senat injured his foot against the Dolphins and sequentially went on injured reserve. Stanley returned to practice this past week and all signs point to him playing on September 9, but he’s already dealt with a handful of minor injuries in his short NFL career.
Orlando Brown Jr. held his own in his extended preseason action. He played more snaps than anyone on the team and will likely start at right tackle against Buffalo. His technique and footwork need to improve, but he makes up for it with his 6’8″, 345-pound frame.
The Ravens will cross their fingers that Stanley and Brown remain healthy throughout the season, because the backup options at tackle appear to be James Hurst and Jermaine Eluemunor. Hurst’s history at left tackle does not bode nearly as well as his time at left guard. Eluemunor has struggled at both tackle and guard in his playing time to-date. If any of Baltimore’s starting tackles, notably Stanley, suffers an injury and misses games, Joe Flacco may have to run for his life.
An interesting piece of news that came out on Saturday was the Colts releasing Austin Howard, who started 16 games at right tackle for the Ravens last year. Howard was worthy of starting last season, but nothing he did made you excited; he was average. His level of play went down further this preseason, and now he’s back on the free agent market.
Given the Ravens’ lack of serviceable depth at tackle, a reunion with Howard sounds intriguing. However, Howard being cut right before the regular season says a lot about what the Colts thought about his play. Remember when the Ravens re-signed Jeremy Zuttah last offseason and then cut him less than a month later?
The Ravens should certainly consider giving Howard a workout, but don’t count on them reaching for his services.
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