RB J.K. Dobbins Signs With Chargers

APRIL 24: The Bolts’ Dobbins deal carries a base value of $1.61MM, ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets. The fifth-year running back can collect another $750K in incentives. Considering the injuries Dobbins has encountered over the past three years, a near-veteran-minimum deal is not surprising. He will team with Edwards in a Ravens-centric Chargers backfield in 2024.

APRIL 17: It’s a full Baltimore reunion in Los Angeles this offseason. After former Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman brought in a familiar face at running back in former Raven Gus Edwards, the Chargers will now be adding Edwards’ former backfield teammate J.K. Dobbins, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Dobbins joins the Chargers on a one-year deal.

Dobbins, a former second-round pick for the Ravens out of Ohio State, will likely be one of the bigger cases of “what if” in Baltimore’s recent history. Dobbins came to Baltimore following quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s unanimous MVP season in which the team went 14-2. With veteran Mark Ingram getting into his 30’s, Dobbins was brought in to add an exciting, young kick to the run game.

In his rookie season, Dobbins gave a small taste of the production he was capable of. Splitting the backfield with Edwards nearly 50-50, Dobbins led the team in rushing touchdowns (9) and led the running backs room in rushing yards (805) while averaging an impressive 6.0 yards per carry. A promising follow-up sophomore campaign was put to an end before it could even begin when Dobbins suffered a torn ACL in the team’s final preseason game, taking him out for the entire 2021 season.

Injuries continued to dog Dobbins into the 2022 season. He came back from his torn ACL in Week 3 of that year but saw limited use and production as the Ravens played it a bit safe early. After feeling some knee tightness in Week 6, though, Dobbins returned to injured reserve in order to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery. Dobbins made his second return of the season in Week 14 and announced his reemergence with a bang, eclipsing 120 rushing yards in each of his first two games back. A Tyler Huntley-led version of the offense rode Dobbins to a first half lead in their Wild Card game before seemingly abandoning that gameplan in the loss.

The Ravens were excited to finally field an offense with a healthy backfield featuring Jackson, Dobbins, and Edwards in 2023. An extension for Dobbins was even very much on the table for the Ravens. Unfortunately, the worst-case scenario occurred in the team’s season opener when Dobbins suffered a torn Achilles tendon, his second season-ending injury in three years.

Now, after a tough going over his rookie contract, Dobbins will hope to turn a new corner with a new team. He had visited Los Angeles and Kansas City and was thought to be a favorite to sign with the Chiefs before they opted to re-sign Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Talent has never been the issue when considering Dobbins as a free agent. The corny saying applies here: his biggest ability moving forward will be his availability.

The Chargers are well set up to accommodate any setbacks for Dobbins. With Edwards on the roster, Los Angeles can function in quite the same way as Baltimore did with the two. They will be able to utilize Dobbins as much as they desire while relying on the much sturdier Edwards to produce regardless. Dobbins should be getting the best of both worlds here: a second chance with a change of scenery while still be supported by familiar faces that he knows he works well with. If he doesn’t fit in LA, it’s only a one-year audition before he returns to free agency.

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