Ravens Officially Convert Malik Cunningham To WR

When the Ravens signed 2023 UDFA Malik Cunningham off the Patriots’ practice squad in December, it was widely assumed they were doing so with an eye towards installing Cunningham as quarterback Lamar Jackson‘s backup for the upcoming season (and perhaps beyond). However, as Ryan Mink of the Ravens’ official website notes, Cunningham is now listed as a wide receiver on Baltimore’s roster.

The Ravens allowed Jackson’s former backup, Tyler Huntley, to depart in free agency while re-signing 38-year-old journeyman Josh Johnson, which appeared to set the table for a Johnson v. Cunningham battle for the QB2 role. Instead, head coach John Harbaugh anointed Johnson as the second passer on the depth chart earlier this month, and at the time, we heard that Cunningham may transition to wideout.

The transition has been made official, as the Ravens are apparently comfortable with their quarterback situation after selecting Devin Leary in the sixth round of this year’s draft (Leary and UDFA rookie Emory Jones will compete for the QB3 job). Cunningham, whose rawness as a passer is what caused him to go undrafted last spring, is nonetheless a highly-athletic talent for whom the Patriots designed a special package of gadget-type plays when he was on their roster.

While Cunningham only saw action in one game (six snaps) with New England, he will now have a chance to focus exclusively on his craft as a receiver. According to Mink, the Louisville product has shown promise in that role in the early stages of the Ravens’ offseason program.

Baltimore did not make an effort to re-sign Odell Beckham Jr., a key ancillary weapon in last year’s passing attack, and the team also saw Devin Duvernay defect to the Jaguars in free agency. Despite a re-up for Nelson Agholor, those departures left the Ravens a little thin at the WR position, especially given Rashod Bateman‘s history of injury troubles. Like the 2023 edition of Duvernay, free agent acquisition Deonte Harty is likely to see more action as a return specialist than on offense.

The club did add Devontez Walker in the fourth round of April’s draft, and tight ends Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely have proven themselves to be terrific pass catchers, but Cunningham still appears to have a decent chance to carve out a spot for himself in the WR room. Behind Zay Flowers, Bateman, and Agholor, the rest of the Ravens’ wideouts are either unproven or ticketed for a third phase role, so if Cunningham continues to perform well as the summer progresses, he and Jackson — who were actually teammates at Louisville in 2017 — could find themselves on the field together when the regular season rolls around.

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