Free agent guard John Simpson has found a new home after getting waived by the team that drafted him two seasons ago, signing to the practice squad of the Ravens as a veteran exception. Simpson provides a strong depth piece deep down the Ravens roster.
Simpson is in his third season in the NFL. After a rookie season that saw him play here and there on the Raiders line, Simpson started every game for Las Vegas at left guard last year. Simpson started only the first two games of the season for the Raiders this season before being demoted to a backup role for both guard spots.
The former fourth-round pick out of Clemson losing his starting job at the beginning of the season didn’t come as a total shock. Before the season began, early reports out of camp indicated that only left tackle Kolton Miller and right guard Denzelle Good were guaranteed their starting spots. The reports, from Vic Tafur and Tashan Reed of The Athletic, claimed that rookie third-round pick Dylan Parham “could push (Simpson) at left guard or Andre James at center.”
Luckily for Simpson, Parham wouldn’t get a chance to take his job since he was first asked to replaced Good after a surprising retirement announcement. Unfortunately for Simpson, his job would soon be given to Alex Bars. The Raiders would waive Simpson shortly after an injury to Bars would push Simpson into extended relief duty for a game.
The move makes sense for the Ravens, who have experienced their fair share of offensive line injuries over the past few years. Starting tackles Ronnie Stanley and Ja’Wuan James have both missed significant time in recent years, helping to make sense of why Baltimore prefers to have so much quality depth at the offensive line.
Currently, behind a starting line of left tackle Stanley, left guard Ben Powers, rookie first-round center Tyler Linderbaum, right guard Kevin Zeitler, and right tackle Morgan Moses, the Ravens boast a true sixth-man on the line. Utility offensive lineman Patrick Mekari has played significant time at all five positions on the line at the NFL-level. He has the ability to fill in for any of Baltimore’s starting lineman should they go down with injury with little-to-no drop-off in quality of play. Besides Mekari, Baltimore has fourth-round rookie Daniel Faalele as a backup tackle, Trystan Colon-Castillo as a backup center, and Ben Cleveland as a backup guard.
The quality of the depth is good, but the lack of quantity doesn’t leave the Ravens with much in the way of options in case of emergency. Adding Simpson to the practice squad gives Baltimore another quality backup option on their offensive line. To make room for Simpson on the practice squad, the Ravens released practice squad outside linebacker Julian Stanford.