Ravens Rumors

Ravens To Sign WR Andy Isabella To Practice Squad

It didn’t take long for Andy Isabella to find his new squad. The free agent wideout will be signing with the Ravens, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com (via Twitter). He’ll be joining Baltimore’s practice squad, per Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus (on Twitter).

Isabella was a second-round pick by the Cardinals back in 2019, and he spent his first three-plus seasons with the organization. After finishing the 2021 campaign with only one reception and starting the 2022 season with a pair of catches, the receiver was waived by Arizona earlier this week. He ultimately went unclaimed, allowing him to sign with any squad.

The 25-year-old figured to be a popular name on the free agent circuit, but that was mostly due to his draft stock and remaining potential. The wideout showed a bit of a promise during his first two seasons in the NFL, when he hauled in 30 receptions for 413 yards and three scores in 28 games. Isabella also had brief cameos in the return game.

In Baltimore, he’ll likely have to fight for reps. Even if you ignore the Ravens’ running backs and tight ends, the team still has plenty of receivers who deserve snaps, including Rashod Bateman (who is questionable for this weekend) and Devin Duvernay. Isabella will join a depth chart that also features Demarcus Robinson, Tylan Wallace, and James Proche.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 10/5/22

Today’s practice squad transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Signed: OT Sebastian Gutierrez

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Commanders

Ravens’ Gus Edwards To Return To Practice; Justice Hill To Miss Time

The Ravens will start Gus Edwards‘ activation clock, marking a good sign for his near-future availability. Edwards will return to practice this week, John Harbaugh said.

From the point Edwards begins practicing, Baltimore will have 21 days to move him from the reserve/PUP list to its 53-man roster. If that does not happen during this timeframe, the fifth-year running back will miss the 2022 season. While the Ravens saw an activation window close last year (Derek Wolfe‘s), Edwards has been trending in the right direction for a bit. The oft-used backup said in mid-September he was close to a return from the ACL tear that wiped out his 2021 slate.

This news does come after Justice Hill suffered a hamstring injury that Harbaugh confirmed will cause the well-performing backup to miss time, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (on Twitter). With Edwards and J.K. Dobbins‘ recoveries from full-season injuries generating most of the publicity this position group produced this offseason, Hill also returned after missing all of 2021. Hill’s Achilles tear suffered just before last season made the Ravens the rare team to lose its top three backs for an entire season.

Dobbins has been a bit slower to bounce back, but Hill has played well since returning. The 2019 fourth-round pick, whom the Ravens waived with an injury designation in September 2021, is averaging 6.6 yards per carry (19 totes, 125 yards) and has been the team’s top non-Lamar Jackson rusher. After being largely a nonfactor in the Ravens’ backfield during his first two seasons, Hill could be a key cog for the injury-plagued group. But he will need more rehab time, which reopens the door for Edwards to make an immediate impact.

Edwards, 27, has averaged at least five yards per handoff in all three of his healthy seasons, and the Ravens rewarded him with a three-year, $12.38MM extension in June 2021. As the Ravens await Edwards’ first game on that deal, Dobbins continues to be steadily reintegrated after returning from his extensive set of injuries. Dobbins has 20 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown in two games. The Ravens have Kenyan Drake and Mike Davis in place as Dobbins’ backups.

Ravens CB Jimmy Smith Retires After 11 Seasons

One of the Ravens’ top defenders over the past decade has officially ended his career. During a press conference earlier today, cornerback Jimmy Smith announced that he signed a one-day contract to retire with the only team he played for in the NFL.

The team’s first-round pick in 2011, Smith operated in a rotational role for the first two years of his career. It was during the team’s 2012 playoff run, however, that he made quite arguably the play he will be best remembered for. The Colorado product broke up a pass on fourth-and-goal in the closing stages of Super Bowl XLVII, a play which essentially sealed the team’s victory.

From that point on, Smith began a lengthy stretch as a full-time starter and the team’s top cover man. His best statistical season came in 2015, when he totaled 54 tackles, three interceptions and 10 pass deflections. He never earned Pro Bowl honors, but was a steady presence on the backend through the drafting of Marlon Humphrey in 2017 and trade acquisition of Marcus Peters in 2019.

By that point, a number of injuries had started to take their toll on Smith. He was able to suit up for a full campaign just twice in his 11 seasons, and took on a smaller workload over each of the past three years. As a result, his future was very much in doubt this offseason.

Baltimore saw Anthony Averett depart in free agency, a move which, coupled with Smith’s unsigned status, left the team thin behind Humphrey and Peters. The Ravens drafted Jayln Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams in the fourth round of this year’s draft, adding to incumbent Brandon Stephens as long-term rotational options.

Smith, 34, will end his NFL tenure with just under $60MM in career earnings. While injuries will lead to questions of what could have been in terms of his time with the Ravens and how much longer it could have been extended, he will nevertheless have a place in the team’s history as a key defensive contributor.

Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley Inactive For Week 4

OCTOBER 2: Despite the optimism, Stanley is inactive for Week 4. Assuming there are no setbacks in the coming week, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic expects Stanley to return to the field for the Ravens’ Week 5 game against the Bengals (Twitter link).

SEPTEMBER 29: For more than one calendar year, the Ravens have been without their top offensive lineman, but that could change on Sunday. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley told reporters that he could make his season debut this week against the Bills (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network). 

Rapoport notes that “everything [is] trending in the right direction,” a welcomed sign in Baltimore given the 28-year-old’s standard of play but also his lengthy absence. Ankle injuries have limited him to just one game played since October 2020 – the season opener last year. Weeks after that contest, he underwent a second straight season-ending procedure aimed at ensuring he would recover in full this year.

As he revealed during today’s media availability, Stanley actually had another “major surgery” in his lower body following the ankle operation. After being activated in August, the Notre Dame alum gradually resumed on-field work, but this is the first week in which he has practiced in full. As a result, he has expressed confidence about both his short- and long-term health.

“I feel way better than what I was when I played that first game last year,” Stanley said, via ESPN’s Jamison Hensley“I’m in a way better place. I’m very optimistic, very confident about me getting back to where I want to be.”

A Week 4 return would also be perfectly timed considering Baltimore’s current tackle situation. Ja’Wuan James filled in for Stanley to start the season, but he suffered a torn Achilles during the team’s first game game. The Ravens’ next option, swingman Patrick Mekari, sprained his ankle last week and is likely to miss some time. Given the lack of depth, the team worked out veteran Ty Nsekhe this week as potential insurance.

A return to action – and All-Pro form – would solve the Ravens’ issue at the blindside position, though. It would also give both player and club confidence from a financial standpoint, as Stanley has $57MM due on the remainder of his five-year extension signed just before his injury troubles began. If he is unable to suit up on Sunday, fourth-round rookie Daniel Faalele will likely get the start at LT.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/1/22

Today’s minor moves around the league, including practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s action:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Pass Rusher Jason Pierre-Paul To Make Ravens Debut

Jason Pierre-Paul is “definitely” ready to debut for the third NFL team of his career, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. Pierre-Paul signed with the Ravens a little over a week ago after his second visit with the team this year. His presence has become a necessity as Baltimore, once again, finds itself getting bitten hard by the injury bug. 

Pierre-Paul surely saw his best years come with the Giants, during the first eight seasons of his career, when he tallied 58.5 sacks and 87.0 tackles for loss in New York. Not only could he wreak havoc in the backfield, but Pierre-Paul had a nose for the football, as well, forcing seven fumbles and returning both his interceptions in a Giants uniform for touchdowns.

As an esteemed veteran, he signed with the Buccaneers at 29-years-old. He became an immediate contributor and, in his first three seasons in Tampa Bay, recorded 30.5 sacks and 32.0 tackles for loss. Pierre-Paul even earned a Pro Bowl bid in his third season with the team.

Last year, though, Pierre-Paul saw his production plummet. He finished 2021 with the second-fewest sacks of his career (2.5) and the fewest tackles for loss of his career (5.0). Pierre-Paul attributes the downturn in production to injuries to his shoulder. He reportedly tore his rotator cuff, biceps, and “a small muscle in his upper back” last year, limiting him for all but the first three weeks of the season.

“I basically got a whole new shoulder. I feel way totally better,” Pierre-Paul explained. “I did what I could do for the team, but not having two shoulders is a big thing. Can’t push, can’t grab, can’t snatch. But I can do all of that now.”

The Ravens are counting on it. Three Ravens outside linebackers already sit on injured reserve and second-round rookie pass rusher David Ojabo remains on the reserve/non-football injury list. With Justin Houston listed as doubtful going into the Bills game, according to Hensley, after suffering a groin injury in last weekend’s win over the Patriots, Baltimore was left with only second-year pass rusher Odafe Oweh to rush the quarterback. Enter Pierre-Paul, who will join Oweh as the only healthy outside linebackers on the roster.

The Ravens have plenty of experience finding pressure from other positions, as they blitz more than any other team in the NFL, but if Pierre-Paul can return to anywhere near his normal form at 33-years-old, the Ravens should have a formidable pass-rushing duo to corral Bills quarterback Josh Allen this Sunday at noon.

2022 NFL Cap Space, By Team

As we exit September, trade rumors will become a steady NFL topic. This year’s deadline falls on Nov. 1. That will return cap-space discussions to the forefront. Here is how every team stacks up financially going into October, via Over The Cap.

  1. Cleveland Browns: $35.94MM
  2. Philadelphia Eagles: $10.89MM
  3. Denver Broncos: $10.67MM
  4. Carolina Panthers: $10.47MM
  5. Las Vegas Raiders: $10.35MM
  6. Dallas Cowboys: $9.25MM
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers: $8.64MM
  8. Green Bay Packers: $8.57MM
  9. Indianapolis Colts: $7.97MM
  10. Atlanta Falcons: $7.92MM
  11. New York Jets: $6.97MM
  12. Chicago Bears: $6.84MM
  13. San Francisco 49ers: $6.75MM
  14. Miami Dolphins: $6.51MM
  15. Arizona Cardinals: $6.25MM
  16. Los Angeles Chargers: $5.83MM
  17. New York Giants: $5.49MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $5.41MM
  19. Los Angeles Rams: $5.38MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $4.51MM
  21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $3.87MM
  22. New England Patriots: $3.5MM
  23. Cincinnati Bengals: $3.16MM
  24. New Orleans Saints: $2.86MM
  25. Detroit Lions: $2.64MM
  26. Washington Commanders: $2.58MM
  27. Buffalo Bills: $2.44MM
  28. Tennessee Titans: $2.41MM
  29. Seattle Seahawks: $2.28MM
  30. Kansas City Chiefs: $2.12MM
  31. Houston Texans: $1.64MM
  32. Minnesota Vikings: $1.47MM

The Eagles’ number is certainly far closer to the Vikings’ last-place figure than what the Browns have stockpiled. Cleveland would stand to have room to augment its 2022 roster, via a patient free agent or a trade. That could depend on where Jacoby Brissett has the team stationed going into the Nov. 1 deadline. But the Browns also appear to be preparing for their Deshaun Watson future. Watson’s unprecedented contract spikes from a $9.4MM cap number (2022) to a record-shattering $54.99MM numbers from 2023-26. As that reality awaits, the Browns rolling over cap space to 2023 would be prudent.

With Sterling Shepard‘s ACL tear moving the veteran wide receiver to IR, the Giants will need to both cover that cost ($6.3MM) and add a contract to fill the roster spot. Every team will go through versions of that issue this season, as injuries pile up. The Giants are prepared to eat a significant chunk of Kenny Golladay‘s 2022 base salary ($13MM) to move him, eyeing an escape from his $4.5MM 2023 guarantee. No takers have emerged, though it will be interesting to see if a market for the former Pro Bowler forms once injuries affect more teams’ receiver situations.

Since their Jimmy Garoppolo restructure, the 49ers agreed to a two-year extension with Dre Greenlaw. The team is not expected to extend Nick Bosa until 2023, however. The Texans, Falcons, Bears and Eagles all sit north of $60MM in dead money, meaning more than a quarter of their respective cap space is tied to players no longer on the roster. Watson, Matt Ryan and Khalil Mack are responsible for massive dead-money hits on the Houston, Atlanta and Chicago payrolls. Philadelphia still has Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson and Brandon Brooks dead money on its cap sheet.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/29/22

Today’s minor moves around the NFL:

Baltimore Ravens

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Ravens’ Michael Pierce Suffers Biceps Tear

SEPTEMBER 29: The sixth-year veteran announced he is undergoing surgery to repair the injury, Rapoport adds (via Twitter). This will almost certainly end Pierce’s season.

SEPTEMBER 28: Michael Pierce‘s first season back with the Ravens may not end up lasting long. The veteran nose tackle suffered a biceps tear in the team’s Week 3 win in New England, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The Ravens are not ruling Pierce out for the season just yet; the team is determining how to proceed. Pierce is weighing whether to undergo surgery or attempt to play through the injury after a rehab effort, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com tweets.

Pierce, 29, has played five of his six NFL seasons in Baltimore. After the Vikings released him in March, the Ravens brought him back on a three-year, $16.5MM deal. Of that amount, $6.75MM is guaranteed.

This Pierce injury comes nearly a year after an elbow issue shut him down for an extended stretch in Minnesota. Playing on a three-year, $27MM deal the Vikings authorized, Pierce missed nine games last season. That ended up being his only season in Minneapolis, after having opted out of the 2020 campaign.

A Ravens regular for nearly the duration of his rookie contract, Pierce has excelled in run defense with Baltimore. Pro Football Focus has consistently rated the former UDFA as a top-tier interior D-lineman. This year is no exception, with Pierce slotted fifth among inside defenders through three games. This will certainly deal a blow to Baltimore’s run defense, which is already giving up 5.0 yards per carry (28th through three games).

The team opted not to give Brandon Williams a third contract, but the longtime Baltimore D-line starter remains available. So does Ndamukong Suh, whom the Ravens pursued in 2020. Suh re-signed with the Buccaneers that year. The Ravens still roster the likes of Calais Campbell, former third-rounder Justin Madubuike, third-year backup Broderick Washington and veteran Brent Urban on their defensive front.