Derek Wolfe

Derek Wolfe Will Not Play This Season

Sidelined during the season’s first half, Derek Wolfe will not end up playing at all for the Ravens in 2021. 

Wolfe has missed extensive time due to hip and back injuries. Although he returned to practice late last month, his 21-day window to be officially activated closed Tuesday. He is now back on IR and must remain there for the rest of the season.

Harbaugh said he does not “understand [the situation] completely,” per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, but the veteran defensive lineman was “not in a place” where a return this season is possible.

The 10th-year D-lineman practiced just once during his IR-return window and is set to miss a full season for the first time in his career. Wolfe has dealt with injuries for much of his NFL run but has never previously missed more than five regular-season games. This news comes months after the Ravens re-signed him on a three-year, $12MM deal.

One of many starters from the Broncos’ dominant 2015 defense still active, Wolfe played eight seasons in Denver and wanted to return on a third contract. But the Broncos went in a different direction in 2020, leading Wolfe to Baltimore. He started eight games for last season’s playoff-bound Ravens squad, making 51 tackles and registering just one sack. Wolfe and Calais Campbell represented key veteran additions for last year’s team, but the former’s career is at a crossroads after this news.

The Ravens guaranteed Wolfe $8.5MM. It will be interesting if they are still interested in the former second-round pick returning in 2022 for his age-32 season. A near-$4MM dead-money hit would come if Wolfe is released.

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Ravens Designate Derek Wolfe To Return

Derek Wolfe has been designated for return from the injured reserve list, per a club announcement. The defensive end has yet to play this season but could make his 2021 debut inside of the next three weeks. 

Wolfe, an eight-year Broncos starter, signed with the Ravens in 2020 and played in 14 games. Unfortunately, back and hip injuries hindered him throughout the summer. Last year, Wolfe finished out with one sack, one fumble recovery, six tackles for loss, and two pass breakups.

The veteran has dealt with injuries throughout his career, including a scary neck injury that kept him out of Super Bowl XLVIII and related neck trouble in 2017. His 2019 season also ended prematurely due to an elbow injury. Still, he was productive in Denver and even managed a career-high seven sacks in ’19, despite playing in just 12 games.

On the other side of the ball, the Ravens are awaiting the return of tight end Nick Boyle. He was designated for return on Oct. 20, so the Ravens have a little over two weeks to return him to the active roster.

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Ravens Elevate RB Le’Veon Bell

Le’Veon Bell‘s Ravens debut could be coming soon. The team elevated the former All-Pro running back to its active roster Saturday, doing so while placing Derek Wolfe on IR.

Amid a brutal run of injuries at running back, the Ravens worked out Bell shortly before Week 1 and signed him to their practice squad. Baltimore promoted Devonta Freeman ahead of the ex-Steelers star but now will have Bell on its active roster as well in Week 4.

Bell joins Freeman, Ty’Son Williams and Latavius Murray on Baltimore’s 55-man Week 4 roster. Teams can dress up to 48 players each week. The Ravens have gone with a committee approach at running back, using Williams and Murray mostly. Freeman has seen sporadic work behind the team’s top duo.

To label Bell’s past three-plus years as underwhelming would be quite the understatement. Following Bell’s 2018 full-season holdout, the lucrative Jets deal he inked failed spectacularly. The Jets dropped Bell midway through last season. While the Chiefs picked him up, Bell saw scant action in the playoffs and was a healthy scratch for both the AFC championship game and Super Bowl LV. The Ravens extended the two-time All-Pro another chance, however, and Bell will likely soon begin his age-29 season.

Wolfe has not played this season and will miss his Denver homecoming game. The eight-year Broncos starter signed with the Ravens in 2020 and played in 14 games, but back and hip injuries have sidelined him since August. The veteran defensive lineman will be out through at least Week 6.

Baltimore also elevated tackle Andre Smith and cornerback Kevon Seymour from its practice squad, with Smith being named a COVID-19 roster replacement for Jaylon Ferguson, who will miss a second straight game after having tested positive. The Ravens did not activate receivers Rashod Bateman or Miles Boykin.

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Ravens Place Justin Houston, Brandon Williams, Others On Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Ravens look set to be without several key defenders against the Lions on Sunday. They placed three defensive starters on their reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.

Outside linebackers Justin Houston and Jaylon Ferguson join defensive linemen Brandon Williams and Justin Madubuike in landing on Baltimore’s coronavirus list. While differing protocols exist for vaccinated an unvaccinated players, Friday placements on the virus list leave teams in a bind. This quartet is set to miss Baltimore’s Week 3 game.

It is unclear which members, if any, of the group tested positive. Positive tests would jeopardize their availability for the Ravens’ Week 4 game against the Broncos. Regardless, this continues a brutal season for the Ravens on the availability front.

Baltimore is already without defensive end Derek Wolfe, having ruled out the veteran lineman due to a back injury. Williams has been a starter since 2014, while Madubuike — a 2020 third-round pick — played 49% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in Week 2.

Houston, 32, has started both Baltimore’s games, lining up opposite Tyus Bowser. The Ravens do have first-round pick Odafe Oweh and Bowser set to be available. Pernell McPhee‘s status is uncertain due to a shoulder injury that prevented him from practicing Friday. Houston, who managed to avoid injuries during both his Colts seasons, will miss his first game since the 2018 season. The veteran edge rusher does not have a sack yet this season but obviously serves as a key player for a Ravens team that let Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue walk in free agency.

Baltimore withstood its numerous injuries to upend Kansas City on Sunday night, but the AFC power’s lineup will be filled with backups in Detroit. The team will again be without left tackle Ronnie Stanley on Sunday as well, ruling the All-Pro blocker out due to an ankle injury.

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Derek Wolfe, Ravens Agree To Terms

5:15pm: These talks will lead to a contract agreement. The Ravens are bringing back Wolfe and will do so on a multiyear deal this year. Wolfe will sign a three-year, $12MM deal to stay in Baltimore, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic tweets.

4:59pm: Derek Wolfe may be on track to securing a second contract agreement with the Ravens. The veteran defensive lineman indicated he is close to re-signing with the Ravens, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets.

The Ravens have lost their top two edge rushers from last season, with Matt Judon going to the Patriots and Yannick Ngakoue committing to the Raiders. But they still have Calais Campbell under contract and made moves to retain their backup edges — Pernell McPhee and Tyus Bowser — and appear to have a second Wolfe deal in sight.

A Broncos starter for eight seasons, Wolfe moved on to the Ravens last season. He started eight games, playing 58% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps. The 2021 season will be Wolfe’s age-31 campaign.

Wolfe played a key role for the Broncos’ Super Bowl champion defense but was not prioritized in Denver last year. It appears the Ravens view the run defender/inside pass rusher as an important cog as they attempt to reconstruct their pass rush.

Ravens To Let Judon, Ngakoue Walk?

After featuring two franchise-tagged edge defenders last season, the Ravens’ pass rush may be in for considerable change in 2021. A sizable chunk of their outside linebacker contributors from 2020 are free agents, and the top two may be set for free agency for the first time.

The Ravens retained Matt Judon via the franchise tag last year and traded for Yannick Ngakoue, who received the tag from the Jaguars before being shipped to the Vikings. Baltimore may let both free agents go, with Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com noting the team is expected to part ways with Ngakoue and will not re-sign Judon.

This would be quite the shakeup for the Ravens, but sticking to a price point with edge rushers is not out of character for the team. Baltimore let Paul Kruger, Pernell McPhee and Za’Darius Smith walk in recent years and said goodbye to Terrell Suggs in 2019 as well. The team also did not match the Jets’ market-resetting offer for off-ball ‘backer C.J. Mosley two years ago.

It would cost the Ravens just more than $20MM to franchise Judon for a second time. Judon said earlier this year a Ravens return would need to line up perfectly, and the longtime Baltimore contributor looks set to be a first-time free agent. It will come at a key point, with the ex-Division II standout set to turn 29 this year. Judon has been a key Ravens rusher over the past four seasons. He made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two. Although the former fifth-round pick does not have a 10-sack season on his resume, he posted 33 QB hits in 2019.

Ngakoue moving on would be less surprising. He recorded three regular-season sacks as a Raven but played sparingly in the team’s two playoff games. This will be the former third-round pick’s first go-round in free agency. The former Jaguars standout will only turn 26 this year.

McPhee has since returned to the Ravens, agreeing to two one-year pacts after each of the past two drafts. The 10-year veteran would like to stay in Baltimore, and Hensley views that scenario as realistic. Tyus Bowser may also be in play to return on a low-cost deal. Derek Wolfe is also a free agent, but the longtime Broncos defensive lineman also wants to re-sign with the Ravens. The team would like the 30-year-old defender back as well, Hensley adds. Still, Judon and Ngakoue departing would create a major need for the team going into free agency.

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Ravens, DE Derek Wolfe Agree To Deal

Hours after the Broncos agreed to re-sign Shelby Harris, their longest-tenured defensive lineman will head elsewhere. Derek Wolfe agreed to terms with the Ravens on a one-year deal worth up to $6MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The deal will guarantee Wolfe $3MM, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. Wolfe said, via Renck, the Broncos did not make an offer to bring him back.

The Ravens were thought to have finalized an agreement with Michael Brockers, but after it turned out the sides could not close that deal, Baltimore will pivot to another veteran interior rusher.

Wolfe, 29, said for months his preference was to return to Denver, where he played eight seasons. But the Broncos traded for Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey and opted to re-sign Harris after his market underwhelmed. The Ravens have swooped in and will add Wolfe to a defensive line that includes Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams.

While Wolfe was productive in Vic Fangio‘s scheme — registering career-high seven sacks in just 12 games — and was a starter for the Broncos’ dominant Super Bowl-winning defense in 2015, he has dealt with injuries throughout his career. The former second-round pick was not able to play in Super Bowl XLVIII due to a scary neck injury sustained earlier in 2013 and encountered more neck trouble in 2017. His 2019 season ended early because of an elbow injury.

The Ravens expressed interest in Ndamukong Suh, but he returned to the Buccaneers. Instead, Baltimore will add Wolfe on a team-friendlier contract. Wolfe signed a four-year, $36.75MM Broncos extension in early 2016 and played out that contract. With the Broncos, he totaled 33 sacks. Working with talented edge rushers throughout his career, the interior rusher registered at least five sacks in four seasons.

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Broncos, Bryce Callahan Agree To Restructure

The Broncos and cornerback Bryce Callahan have agreed to a paycut/restructure, per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network (via Twitter). Callahan is now scheduled to earn $5MM in 2020 and can earn another $2MM in playing time incentives. The move will free up $1.8MM in cap space for 2020.

Denver signed Callahan last March with the hope that his strong play as a slot CB with the Bears would carry over to Mile High. But Callahan suffered a broken foot towards the end of his tenure in Chicago, and he re-aggravated the injury during his first training camp with the Broncos. He ultimately underwent stem cell treatment on the foot and missed the entire 2019 campaign.

Still, the Broncos will likely be relying on Callahan to start in 2020. The club traded for A.J. Bouye earlier this month but saw Chris Harris depart in free agency, so Callahan will be a key part of a remade secondary. Denver is also reportedly interested in adding another CB via free agency or the draft.

In other Broncos news, Troy Renck of Denver7 reports that the team has shown no interest in retaining free agent DE Derek Wolfe, who is still in search of a new team.

Broncos Notes: Harrises, Wolfe, OL, RBs

The Broncos both traded for A.J. Bouye (and a $13MM salary) and used their franchise tag on Justin Simmons, signaling Chris Harris‘ time in Denver was almost certainly up. The four-time Pro Bowler said during an NFL Network appearance the door is “pretty much” closed on a 10th Broncos season (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala). The decorated cornerback is expected to have at least 10 teams pursuing him, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. The Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Jets, Lions, Raiders, Seahawks and Texans are expected to have “strong” interest in signing the 30-year-old defender, Renck adds. This list interestingly omits the Eagles, who have been linked to Harris at multiple junctures over the past five months.

Although Harris is arguably the best slot cornerback in NFL history, his consistent usage as a boundary player as well will likely push his market near the current corner standard of $15MM per year. He turned down the Broncos’ three-year, $36MM proposal before the trade deadline.

Here is the latest out of Denver:

  • Denver’s Week 1 starting defensive line consisted of Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris and Adam Gotsis. All three are poised to hit the market, with Gotsis doing so after being benched early in the season. Shelby Harris would prefer to stay in Denver but has acknowledged, at 28, this is his lone chance at a big payday. The Colts are among the teams interested in the late-blooming D-lineman, Renck notes.
  • On the Wolfe subject, the eight-year veteran has been the most vocal about returning to Denver. His agent’s Combine meeting with the Broncos led him to believe he will hit the market. “[The Broncos] talked to my agent at the Combine. … It looks like they’re going to let me hit free agency, see what the market is,” Wolfe said during an interview with KOA Radio (via DNVR Sports’ Andrew Mason, on Twitter). “… It’s a nice way of saying, ‘We like you; we love you, but not for that kind of money.” The Broncos may bring back Wolfe or Shelby Harris, but not both. The team drafted Dre’Mont Jones in Round 3 last year, so it may be covered at one of its defensive end spots. Wolfe, 29, said during an interview with Sirius XM Radio (audio link) he is eyeing two to four more seasons.
  • The Broncos’ interest in a running back stems not necessarily from their current regime’s desire to replace Phillip Lindsay but to complement him, per Renck, who adds the team is expected to add a bigger back in either free agency or the draft. Royce Freeman has underwhelmed in that role over the past two seasons.
  • The Broncos plan to pursue a guard on the market, Renck notes (on Twitter). They declined Ronald Leary‘s 2020 option, so a replacement will be needed. They also may try to add a swing tackle and are likely to draft a tackle, which makes sense given left tackle Garett Bolles‘ struggles.
  • Elijah Wilkinson was supposed to work as a Broncos swing man in 2019, but Ja’Wuan James‘ near-season-long absence thrust Wilkinson into Denver’s right tackle spot. He spent time as a first-string guard in 2018 and stands to factor into the Broncos’ 2020 plans at one of those two positions. The team is expected to use a priority tender on Wilkinson, per Renck. This will likely mean a second-round tender. That will cost more than $3MM.

Extra Points: Broncos, XFL, Vikings, Hawks

Derek Wolfe has made it clear for months he would like to return to the Broncos, but the eight-year veteran does not want to take a pay cut to do so, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Both Wolfe and Shelby Harris are free agents, and Klis adds the Broncos will not bring back both players. It will be an either/or setup, or the Broncos will let both walk and essentially remake their defensive line. Both were starters over the past three seasons. Wolfe has been a Denver starter since his 2012 rookie slate and joins Chris Harris in being first-stringers from the team’s Super Bowl champion defense set to hit the market. Shelby Harris, 28, joined the Broncos in 2017, after being out of football in 2016, and will be in demand on the market. The Broncos met with Wolfe’s agent at the Combine.

Denver extended Wolfe, now 29, on a four-year, $36.75MM deal in January 2016. With John Elway indicating defensive line doubles as this free agent class’ deepest position, it is certainly possible the team moves on from Wolfe rather than give him a third contract — north of that $9MM-per-year rate — as he enters his 30s.

Here is the latest from around the league:

  • Vikings tight end David Morgan missed all of last season because of a knee injury, and Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes his contract will toll to 2020. Morgan’s contract was set to expire after the 2019 season, making him a first-time free agent this year. But after spending last season on Minnesota’s PUP list, Morgan will again be tethered to the Vikings this year. The rate will depend on the CBA. If the players reject the owners’ proposal, Morgan will make $735K again. If the CBA is ratified this week, Morgan’s salary would spike to $825K. A sixth-round pick in 2016, Morgan has 16 receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown in his three seasons with the Vikings.
  • One of the XFL’s top players has drawn interest from the Seahawks. Seattle scouts were on hand at Saturday’s Seattle Dragons-Houston Roughnecks game, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noting they were looking into Roughnecks quarterback Phillip Walker. The former NFL practice squad passer has Houston as the XFL’s lone unbeaten, at 5-0. His last NFL connection came in a Buccaneers workout in September 2019. Walker, 24, bounced on and off the Colts’ practice squad in 2018. The Seahawks used Geno Smith as Russell Wilson‘s backup last year; he is now a free agent. XFLers cannot sign NFL deals until the XFL season ends in April.
  • Speaking of the XFL, their kickoff setup has drawn some notable praise. Packers president Mark Murphy is a fan of the league’s kickoffs and its post-touchdown format, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com tweets. The XFL placing 10 members of the kickoff and kick-return teams five yards across from each other naturally stands to reduce high-speed collisions the NFL has sought to minimize for years. The XFL replaced extra-point kicks with one-, two- or three-point conversions — from the 2-, 5- and 10-yard lines — in its second go-round.