Having missed the voluntary portion of the Ravens’ offseason program, Michael Pierce was present for minicamp after signing his second-round RFA tender. But John Harbaugh sidelined him early on the first day of the mandatory workout due to the emerging defensive tackle being well over his listed 340-pound frame.
Harbaugh pulled Pierce off the field after the stretching portion of the Ravens’ workout, citing the lineman’s health as the reason. The fourth-year defender showed up “significantly” heavier than his listed weight, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes (subscription required).
“Throughout the offseason, I tend to lift more than run,” Pierce told WNSP-FM radio in Alabama (via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). “Being a nose guard, I want to be strong or whatnot. I, honestly, just mismanaged my running a little bit.
“At the end of the day, you expect a team leader to come back in better shape than I did. That’s a mistake on my behalf I have to correct.”
This is a critical year for Pierce, who is attached to a $3.095MM salary because of the RFA tender. The former UDFA out of Samford is due for unrestricted free agency next year, and given the Ravens’ pattern of letting talent walk and recouping compensatory picks, Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 interior defender last season may well have a chance to hit the market. This is obviously not a good start to Pierce’s contract year.
“You know, of course, you are disappointed with him,” Ravens DC Don Martindale said, via Zreibec. “He’s a dominant player, and he’s got a challenge from here until training camp to hit a certain stage, and that’s (up to) the trainers and (GM Eric DeCosta) and Harbs on where they want him to be at. I know he’ll be there. I know he will.”
Pierce will face a pivotal stretch over the next five-plus weeks, needing to reduce his weight to return to the kind of shape he was in last season. The 26-year-old defender, who started two games last year and 13 in 2017, will have to pass a conditioning test before taking the field for training camp.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.