David Ojabo

Ravens Activate Tyus Bowser, David Ojabo

NOVEMBER 1: As the team confirmed on Tuesday, both Bowser and Ojabo have been officially activated, which will provide a significant boost to the team’s edge rush as early as Week 9. The Ravens now have five activations remaining in 2022.

OCTOBER 31: The Ravens added a major piece to their defense today when they acquired linebacker Roquan Smith from the Bears. Shortly after pulling off the trade, John Harbaugh revealed that the team will also be activating two key defenders from the reserve list. Linebackers Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo will be activated this week, Harbaugh told reporters (via the team’s website). Bowser will be activated from the reserve/PUP list while Ojabo will be activated off the reserve/NFI list.

[RELATED: Ravens To Acquire Roquan Smith From Bears]

Bowser is expected to be ready to go and should make his first appearance of the 2022 season on Monday against the Saints. Ojabo may need a bit more time, but the Ravens have no choice but to activate him from NFI after designating the linebacker for return three weeks ago.

Bowser suffered a torn Achilles during the 2021 season finale. The former second-round pick had a breakout campaign last year, leading the Ravens with seven sacks while also contributing 59 tackles and 15 QB hits. He only started two games through his first four seasons in the NFL, collecting 10.5 sacks in 63 games.

Ojabo was a projected first-round pick before suffering a torn Achilles during his Pro Day. The injury didn’t force the Michigan product to fall too far down the draft board, with Baltimore scooping him up with the 45th pick. The rookie’s familiarity with defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald (dating back to their time at Michigan) should help reduce some of the NFL growing pains, but Harbuagh cautioned that Ojabo will have to get his feet wet at practice before he’s thrown into the fire.

“We’ll see where he’s at with it in terms of being ready,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a rookie, but he would also be possible as far as playing in the game.

“We’ve got to get him out there to practice more and see what he looks like. He hasn’t really been in any team period yet. We’ve got to take a look at the team period, look at how much he knows of the defense.”

In addition to Smith, the Ravens will be adding three linebackers to an already-formidable linebackers room. Patrick Queen, Josh Bynes, and Malik Harrison have received a lot of run at the position to begin the season.

Ravens Designate OLBs Tyus Bowser, David Ojabo For Return

12:43pm: Both Bowser and Ojabo have officially been designated for return. Each suited up for practice Wednesday, marking a good sign about the edge defenders’ near-future availability.

9:10am: The Ravens are moving closer to having their outside linebacker contingent at full strength. Both Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo are expected to practice this week, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic tweets.

Both players are finishing off their recoveries from Achilles tears. Bowser sustained his injury in January, while Ojabo went down in March while preparing for the draft. Bowser is expected to return to practice Wednesday, while Zrebiec adds the Ravens anticipate their second-round pick suiting up for work later this week. Ojabo could return as soon as today. Bowser resides on the Ravens’ reserve/PUP list; Ojabo is on their reserve/NFI list.

Each player practicing this week opens a 21-day activation clock. Baltimore must activate these defenders within three weeks of each’s first practice. The Ravens landed on the wrong side of this equation recently, with Derek Wolfe reverting to season-ending IR after his activation window closed without a move onto the 53-man roster last season. But Bowser and Ojabo’s timetables have not changed this year. Each has been expected to return, with Bowser perhaps a bit ahead of Ojabo. That would make sense, given the timing of each’s injury. Ojabo returning to practice this week puts him in position to beat an initial timetable, one that had the first-round-level talent pegged to debut during the season’s second half.

These injuries have forced the Ravens to be active at the edge rusher position. They re-signed Justin Houston this offseason and added Jason Pierre-Paul early during the regular season. Houston has not played since suffering a groin injury in Week 3, leading to extensive JPP workloads despite his recent Baltimore debut. Pierre-Paul played well in Baltimore’s Week 6 win over Cincinnati, sacking Joe Burrow once and batting down two of his passes.

Bowser, who re-signed with the Ravens on a four-year deal worth $22MM in 2021, and Ojabo debuting soon would form a suddenly deep rotation — one also featuring 2021 first-round pick Odafe Oweh — for a Ravens team that has needed to make some adjustments at this position. Baltimore has used off-ball ‘backer Malik Harrison on the edge at points.

Latest On Ravens’ Pass Rushing Situation

The Ravens signed veteran edge defender Jason Pierre-Paul earlier this week, and that transaction was consummated in order to offer an immediate boost to the team’s pass rushing contingent. It does not necessarily mean that anything has changed with respect to the prognoses of Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo.

Per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Baltimore is hopeful that Bowser will be on the field shortly after he is eligible to return from the PUP list (Twitter link). Bowser, who signed a four-year, $22MM contract in March 2021, rewarded the Ravens’ faith in him with a season in which he started all 17 games and registered career-highs in total tackles (59), sacks (seven), tackles for loss (eight), quarterback hits (15), and forced fumbles (two). Unfortunately, he suffered an Achilles tear in the 2021 finale and was placed on the reserve/PUP list in August, thereby guaranteeing that he would miss at least the first four games of the 2022 season.

Bowser does not necessarily excel in any one area, but he is useful against the run, in coverage, and as a pass rusher. His absence became even more significant when the Ravens lost Steven Means to an Achilles tear of his own last week, and Zrebiec’s report suggests that Bowser’s recovery is progressing more or less as expected.

Ojabo, meanwhile, was a first-round talent who fell to the second round of the 2022 draft due to (what else?) an Achilles tear during his Pro Day. GM Eric DeCosta chose to play the long game when he selected Ojabo, who was always expected to miss most, if not all, of his first season in the NFL. Per Zrebiec, the Ravens remain optimistic that the Michigan product can return in the second half of the season.

The Bowser injury and the dearth of proven pass rush talent on the roster meant that many free agent and collegiate edge defenders were connected to the Ravens this offseason (including Pierre-Paul, who first visited the team back in June). However, aside from the Ojabo selection and signing players like Means and Vince Biegel — who, almost predictably, tore his Achilles this summer — Baltimore did very little of note to address its needs in that regard.

The club did bring back Justin Houston, and it should be noted that the tragic death of Jaylon Ferguson also played a role in the team’s current lack of edge depth. The hope is that 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh, Houston, and Pierre-Paul can hold down the fort until Bowser and Ojabo are ready to return, though Oweh has been mostly invisible during the first two games of the season. There is plenty of time for him to get on track, but Baltimore was clearly relying on a second-year breakout from him, and he has yet to show signs of such an emergence.

Luckily, Pierre-Paul will not need much of a ramp-up period, as Zrebeic tweets. JPP will not be on the field for Sunday’s matchup with the Patriots, but he is in line to make his Baltimore debut during the club’s Week 4 contest against the Bills.

Wednesday NFL Transactions: AFC North

Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These BengalsBrowns, Ravens and Steelers moves are noted below.

Here are Wednesday’s AFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.

Baltimore Ravens

Signed:

Claimed:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Cincinnati Bengals

Claimed:

Released:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

Signed to practice squad:

Cleveland Browns

Claimed: 

Released:

Signed to practice squad:

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ravens Notes: Biegel, Linderbaum, Ojabo, Roster Bubble

Vince Biegel‘s season has ended before it even started. The Ravens linebacker suffered a torn Achilles on Thursday and will miss the 2022 season, per the team’s website.

The linebacker has bounced around the NFL during his four years in the league, spending time with the Packers, Saints, and Dolphins. Following a 2020 season where he compiled 59 tackles and 2.5 sacks in a career-high 15 games (10 starts) with the Dolphins, he was limited to only two tackles in five contests with Miami in 2021. He caught on with the Ravens this offseason, and according to Ryan Mink of the team website, Biegel had made a strong impression during the first few days of camp.

“Vince was fighting to make the team,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He would have had a great chance to make it, because he’s just a solid, tough, talented guy who does everything exactly right as hard as he can.”

The Ravens were already eyeing a depleted linebackers depth chart with Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo sidelined. The team’s current options consist of Odafe Oweh, Justin Houston, Daelin Hayes, Steven Means, and a handful of rookies.

More notes out of Baltimore:

  • Fortunately, there was some good news on the Ravens’ injury front. While first-round rookie center Tyler Linderbaum limped off the field during practice, an X-ray confirmed he avoided a major injury. “He’s going to be fine,” Harbaugh said (via Mink). “Didn’t get stepped on, kind of just … It’s a physical drill there, and [he] came up a little sore. They’ve looked at it, X-rayed it. They’ll do an MRI on it to make sure, but all indications are it’s nothing serious at all.” Beside the rookie, the Ravens have veteran Patrick Mekari to step in at center.
  • We previously heard that Ojabo’s brief holdout was an attempt to get more guaranteed money in the third year of his rookie contract. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter), the rookie ended up getting $700K of that 2024 base salary guaranteed. As our own Ely Allen previously pointed out, the player selected just before Ojabo at 44th overall is John Metchie III, who received $800,000 (55.61%) of his third year guaranteed. The pick immediately after Ojabo at 46th overall is Joshua Paschal, whose guaranteed third-year money dropped dramatically to $275,000 (22.02%).
  • Guard Ben Powers could find himself on the trade block depending on the status of Ben Cleveland and Tyre Phillips, writes Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Powers has 19 career starts, so he’d surely appeal to a squad seeking some guard depth. Meanwhile, Zrebiec writes that running back Mike Davis could be fighting with Tyler Badie and Justice Hill for two open roster spots. The veteran was brought in this offseason to provide some depth while J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards return to full health, but he may not be needed if the duo is ready for the start of the season.
  • In a stock report of Baltimore’s minicamp, Zrebiec provides a handful of interesting tidbits related to the Ravens. Fourth-round rookie Isaiah Likely will find himself behind Mark Andrews on the depth chart, but he also “seems close to certain to have a notable Week 1 role with the Ravens.” Meanwhile, versatile defensive back Brandon Stephens has been preparing to play cornerback after starting 11 games at safety last season.
  • The Ravens’ other fourth-round rookie tight end, Charlie Kolar, had sports hernia surgery earlier this week, per Zrebiec. “It’s a thing that was lingering from college,” Harbaugh said. “He actually had a sports hernia from college, had a surgery. They’re going to redo that one as well. We’ll get it cleaned up now. I think he felt like he could manage it, but it’s gotten to the point where it needs to be fixed.”

Ravens Sign Second-Round LB David Ojabo

The Ravens have finally wrapped up their draft class. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (on Twitter) that Baltimore has inked linebacker David Ojabo to his rookie pact. Ojabo is the last 2022 draft pick to sign his rookie contract.

[RELATED: Info On David Ojabo’s Holdout]

After sitting out his entire freshman year and collecting one tackle in six games during his sophomore campaign, the Michigan product had a breakout season in 2022. In 13 games, Ojabo compiled 35 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks. The linebacker suffered a torn Achilles during his Pro Day, but despite the injury, the Ravens still selected him in the second round (No. 45) of the 2022 draft.

Ojabo remained unsigned through the start of training camp, forcing him to stage a holdout as he pursued guaranteed money on the third year of his contract. It will be interesting to see who prevailed in that stare down, but today’s signing will allow the Ravens to proceed with other transactions. Since the linebacker is likely to be sidelined for most (if not all) of his rookie season, he’ll likely be placed on Baltimore’s non-football injury list in the coming days.

The Ravens now have their entire 2022 draft class under contract:

Round 1: No. 14 Kyle Hamilton, S (Notre Dame) (signed)
Round 1: No. 25 (from Bills) Tyler Linderbaum, C (Iowa) (signed)
Round 2: No. 45 David Ojabo, OLB (Michigan) (signed)
Round 3: No. 76 Travis Jones, NT (Connecticut) (signed)
Round 4: No. 110 (from Giants) Daniel Faalele, OT (Minnesota) (signed)
Round 4: No. 119 Jayln Armour-Davis, CB (Alabama) (signed)
Round 4: No. 128 (from Cardinals) Charlie Kolar, TE (Iowa State) (signed)
Round 4: No. 130 (from Bills) Jordan Stout, P (Penn State) (signed)
Round 4: No. 139 Isaiah Likely, TE (Coastal Carolina) (signed)
Round 4: No. 141 Damarion Williams, CB (Houston) (signed)
Round 6: No. 196 (from Dolphins) Tyler Badie, RB (Missouri) (signed)

Ravens OLB David Ojabo Last Unsigned Rookie

The Ravens are reportedly the only team in the NFL who have yet to wrap up their rookie draft class signings. The lone holdout, Michigan outside linebacker David Ojabo, is the last unsigned rookie selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, with the contract disagreement surrounding Ojabo’s third-year guarantee percentage, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

This is a bit of a new issue as, last year, Ojabo’s draft slot didn’t receive any third-year guarantee, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN. This year has seen a difference of approach in the second round, though. The first five picks of the second round this year have received contracts that fully guaranteed the second and third years of their rookie deals. The first three picks of the second round even had some of the fourth year of their contracts guaranteed, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. After those first five picks, the next ten picks (excluding Ojabo) have the second year of their rookie deals guaranteed with a percentage of their third year guaranteed.

There are two factors of the situation that make it difficult for Ojabo and the Ravens to negotiate. The first is that, while picks 38-47 of the draft all have guaranteed third-year money, there is a huge drop off in the guaranteed amount for the pick before Ojabo and the pick after Ojabo. The player selected just before Ojabo at 44th overall is John Metchie III, who received $800,000 (55.61%) of his third year guaranteed, following the descending trend from the 38th pick, Arnold Ebiketie ($1.36MM), down to the 43rd pick, Wan’Dale Robinson ($876,508). The pick immediately after Ojabo at 46th overall is Joshua Paschal, whose guaranteed third-year money dropped dramatically to $275,000 (22.02%).

The extreme contrast from Metchie to Paschal gives far too much wiggle room for Baltimore and Ojabo to disagree on. Ojabo, likely, will want guaranteed third-year money closer to what Metchie is receiving based on being picked just after him. The Ravens’ argument will point to the fact that he plays the same position as Paschal, and it will probably hinge on the second factor that makes it a difficult negotiation, as well: Ojabo’s injury.

Ojabo was trending towards being a first-round pick for much of the pre-draft process before tearing his Achilles tendon at Michigan’s Pro Day. The severity and timing of the injury make it unlikely that Ojabo will be able to make much of an impact as a rookie. Achilles injuries have affected long-term status less and less in the NFL lately, but it can still be a bargaining chip for Baltimore in terms of how much money they choose to guarantee. Ojabo can also try to flip it by pointing out what his draft stock would’ve been without injury.

At this point, it’s hard to make any predictions, but it’s pretty clear where the separation is coming from. The Ravens no doubt want to come to terms with Ojabo, who will eventually be meeting last year’s first round pick, Odafe Oweh, at the quarterback for years to come. But, after being bitten hard by the injury bug last year, it’s easy to see why Baltimore may be uneasy to guarantee payment to a player currently recovering from a serious injury. It will certainly be interesting to see how the situation is resolved.

Latest On Ravens’ Edge Rush Pursuit

One of the position groups still surrounded by question marks for the Ravens is that of edge rusher. The team has been connected to a number of veterans this offseason, but little progress has been made lately on any noteworthy additions. 

Arguably the most logical move available is a reunion with Justin Houston. The 33-year-old spent last season with the team, starting all 15 contests he appeared in. He totalled 4.5 sacks and 17 QB hits, providing consistency to an otherwise inexperienced unit. The Ravens have yet to re-sign him, but they placed the rarely-used UFA tender on him. That leaves Houston free to sign with another team until July 22, at which point Baltimore will hold exclusive negotiating rights; a deal on the tender would pay him slightly more than the $2.1MM he made in 2021.

As that deadline approaches, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes that the situation between the two sides remains “in a holding pattern” (subscription required). That could lead to a further opportunity for fellow veteran Jason Pierre-Paul to be brought into the fold. The two-time Super Bowl winner visited the Ravens last month, as he looks to join a contender on the open market once again. He had a down season in 2021 with only 2.5 sacks, but is one year removed from his third Pro Bowl campaign.

At present, the Ravens are led in the pass-rush department by Tyus Bowser, whose Week 1 availability remains in doubt due to the torn Achilles he suffered at the end of last season. The same injury will delay second round rookie David Ojabo‘s NFL debut for a significant period of time. That leaves 2021 draftees Odafe Oweh and Daelin Hayes in line for sizeable roles, with recent signing Steven Means available as depth.

With the aforementioned injury concerns, as well as, unfortunately, a roster spot open after the death of Jaylon Ferguson, Zrebiec “wouldn’t rule out” the possibility of both Houston and Pierre-Paul playing in Baltimore this season. The team is severely lacking in cap space right now, so adding both would be difficult from a financial standpoint; however, the signing of one could be the move most likely to happen between now and training camp.

Ravens Notes: WRs, Clark, Ojabo

The Ravens were busier than expected during Round 1 of last week’s draft, making not one but two selections. To acquire the second pick, of course, they honored Marquise Brown‘s trade request. That was the largest of a number of receiver departures this offseason, leaving many surprised the team didn’t draft a wideout at any point over the weekend.

When asked about that, general manager Eric DeCosta said, “it wasn’t for a lack of effort. I think, honestly, the fact that there was a run of receivers in the first round like there was … I wouldn’t say it was a great receiver class in general, compared to some of the years… There were some receivers that we liked; we tried to take a couple guys at different points… I said this last year, but we like our receivers.” 

Baltimore’s WR room now consists of recent draftees Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace. DeCosta did say, though, that the team “will add players to the mix”, a process which will likely involve diving into the remaining free agent market.

Here are some more notes from around Charm City:

  • Regarding DeCosta’s above remark about failing to land draft targets at WR, they were apparently one pick away from selecting Calvin Austin III, according to Peter King of FMIA. As he details, Baltimore was prepared to use pick No. 139 on the Memphis speedster, but the Steelers took him at 138. While they didn’t draft a wideout, the Ravens did add a pair of tight ends in the fourth round: Charlie Kolar and Isiah Likley.
  • After the Ravens drafted safety Kyle Hamilton 14th overall, some have raised questions about Chuck Clark‘s future with the team. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora writes that it’s “hard to see” Baltimore keeping the latter much longer, given Hamilton’s skillset and the recent trend of trading away valued players seeking new and/or larger roles.
  • Another draft pick vaunted for its relative value was that of edge rusher David Ojabo in the second round. His reason for falling out of the first round – a torn Achilles suffered at his pro day – has many expecting the Michigan product to miss his entire rookie season. However, as ESPN’s Jamison Hensley writes, the team is “optimistic that at some point this year he’ll have a chance to play”, a sentiment which Ojabo himself also shares.

Draft Rumors: Ojabo, Jaguars, Jets, Giants

Michigan still might see two of its edge rushers become first-round picks this month. Despite David Ojabo‘s Achilles tear last month, the ex-Wolverine’s talent could well keep him on track to hear his name called on the draft’s first night. Ojabo remains firmly on the Round 1 radar, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Ojabo is expected to make a full recovery, and a team that uses a first-round pick on him would be positioned to have him contracted for five seasons — via the fifth-year option. Operating opposite Aidan Hutchinson, Ojabo recorded 11 sacks in a breakout 2021. There is recent precedent for pre-draft injuries not keeping talented pass rushers out of the first round (Jeffery Simmons) and for Achilles rehabs going well enough players become factors months after the tears (Terrell Suggs, Michael Crabtree, Cam Akers).

Here is the latest from the draft world:

  • Hutchinson and NC State tackle Ikem Ekwonu met with the Jaguars this week, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes both will head to New York for Giants and Jets visits (Twitter link). Both players are candidates to go first overall, with Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker joining them. The Jets and Giants hold four of the next nine picks — the Jets having Nos. 4 and 10 and the Giants at 5 and 7 — and will be set to add top talent. The Giants have a few needs, but it will be hard to see them exiting Round 1 without a right tackle prospect. They have done extensive homework on Mississippi State’s Charles Cross and would likely pounce if Ekwonu, who is rated ahead of Cross almost universally, fell to 5.
  • After a strong Combine showing, Walker is being projected as a top-five pick. He will visit with each of the teams holding those selections, with Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com noting the Jags, Lions, Texans, Jets and Giants are meeting with the pass rusher. Despite weighing 272 pounds and frequently playing inside with the national championship-winning team, Walker clocked a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. Viewed as a D-lineman with fewer red flags than Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux, it is unlikely Walker will wait long to hear his name called.
  • Teams will do their due diligence on Thibodeaux, who is set to meet with the non-Jaguars contingent of the top five (Lions, Texans, Jets, Giants). The Eagles (Nos. 15 and 18) and Falcons (No. 9) are also planning “30” visits with Thibodeaux, Wilson notes. Questions about Thibodeaux’s motor and attitude have injected uncertainty into the defensive end’s status. A fall to Philly at 15 might not shock at this point.
  • One season remains on Saquon Barkley‘s contract, and the Giants‘ new regime has fielded trade calls on the previous staff’s top investment. The team is now using a few of its allotted 30 visits on backs. Breece Hall (Iowa State), Brian Robinson (Alabama) and James Cook (Georgia) visited the Giants on Tuesday, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Hall could be available when the Giants’ second-round pick (No. 36) comes. However, the ex-Cyclones standout grades as a first-round talent on Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board. Cook and Robinson are viewed as later-round prospects.
  • The Commanders are also taking a look at a top back, being set to meet with Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker on Friday, Rapoport adds (on Twitter). Scouts Inc. grades Walker just ahead of Hall as this class’ top back, but views him as a second-round talent. The Wake Forest transfer blew up for 1,636 rushing yards in his only Michigan State slate. Washington also met with Hall this week, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Andrew Booth may miss his NFL team’s offseason workouts due to hernia surgery, but that should not deter teams from considering the Clemson cornerback in Round 1. Booth has met with the Bills (No. 25) and Eagles, with Rapoport adding Patriots (No. 21) and Saints (Nos. 16 and 19) meetings are also on Booth’s docket.