J.K. Dobbins

AFC West Notes: Chargers, Broncos, Kelce

Jim Harbaugh talked up ex-Michigan pupil J.J. McCarthy extensively before the draft — potentially leading to the unexpected Justin Herbert trade inquiries — but the latter’s prospect status affected the Chargers‘ plans. Drake Maye going off the board at No. 3 stonewalled Chargers hopes of trading down from No. 5 overall, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. Maye prompted the Giants and Vikings to propose the Patriots deals involving 2025 first-rounders. The Vikings spoke with the Chargers, but it is clear McCarthy did not drive interest the way Maye did. A trade from No. 11 to No. 5 would have cost the Vikings, who memorably interviewed Harbaugh in 2022, a future first-rounder. No major interest in the pick led to the Bolts staying at 5 and choosing Joe Alt, who is set to begin work at right tackle in Los Angeles.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Staying with the Chargers, they will have both their Ravens RB imports at full strength during the offseason program. Following his second major injury — an Achilles tear sustained in Week 1J.K. Dobbins deemed himself “100%.” “I’m 100% now,” Dobbins said, via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe. “It was like a walk in the park, it was like a sprained ankle. It was very easy, because I had the knee [injury] — the knee was pretty hard. The Achilles was, I would say, easy, just because that’s my mentality. Got the injury-prone [label] out there, but I think that the storm is over with. I think that I’m going to take off now. There will be no setbacks.” The past injuries limited Dobbins in free agency; he signed a one-year, $1.6MM deal that comes with just $50K guaranteed. Gus Edwards landed a two-year, $6.5MM pact to rejoin Greg Roman in L.A.
  • After Sean Payton — upon the Broncos trading Jerry Jeudy — made it clear he wants an expanded Marvin Mims role on offense, ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold notes the second-year Denver HC drove the effort to draft Troy Franklin near the top of the fourth round. Payton texted Broncos GM George Paton before the fourth round about wanting to move up toward the top of the board to draft Franklin, whom the Broncos had Franklin graded much higher than his ultimate draft slot (No. 102). The Broncos traded Nos. 121, 136 and 207 to move up (via the Seahawks) for Bo Nix‘s top Ducks target. The Broncos still roster Courtland Sutton, though teams have called about a trade for the somewhat disgruntled wideout, but the team has now added a host of WRs — Mims, Franklin and Josh Reynolds chief among them — under Payton. Sutton and Tim Patrick remain from the John Elway GM era.
  • Broncos third-round pick Jonah Elliss underwent shoulder surgery late last year, but the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson notes the Utah alum has been cleared. Denver returns its top three edge rushers from last season (Nik Bonitto, Baron Browning, Jonathon Cooper), but Browning and Cooper are in contract years. Jonah Elliss, the latest son of ex-Bronco DT Luther Elliss to enter the NFL, will likely mix in as a rotational OLB to start his pro career.
  • The Chiefs signed off on a straight-up raise for Travis Kelce, as no new years are included in the superstar tight end’s latest deal. The future Hall of Famer remains signed through 2025, and SI.com’s Albert Breer notes no void years were added for cap purposes. The re-up increased Kelce’s 2024 cap number from $15.6MM to $19.6MM, per OverTheCap. Kelce’s 2025 cap number checks in at $19.8MM; the bulk of the 34-year-old pass catcher’s 2025 salary will become guaranteed on day 3 of the 2025 league year.
  • The Paton-Payton duo made a recent staff addition as well. Joey DiCresce will move from intern to full-time football data scientist with the Broncos, ESPN.com’s Seth Walder tweets.

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.

Chiefs To Re-Sign RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Clyde Edwards-Helaire did not pan out as a Chiefs starter; the team found much better value in recent seventh-rounder Isiah Pacheco. But the two-time defending Super Bowl champions still have the 2020 first-round pick in their plans.

Despite losing his starting job midway through his rookie contract, Edwards-Helaire will stay with the Chiefs. The sides reached an agreement on a one-year deal Tuesday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports. This move comes at a rather interesting point, as J.K. Dobbins is in Kansas City for a visit today.

[RELATED: Chiefs To Sign QB Carson Wentz]

Pacheco became a pivotal investment for the Chiefs, and the Rutgers alum commandeered the starting running back job during his rookie season. The move helped the team cover for an apparent miss on Edwards-Helaire, whom it chose shortly after winning Super Bowl LIV four years ago. Edwards-Helaire still worked as Kansas City’s top backup RB last season, starting in place of Pacheco in three games. The LSU alum averaged only 3.2 yards per carry, however, finishing with 223 yards and a touchdown in 2023.

Viewed as a potential multipurpose weapon alongside Patrick Mahomes in 2020, Edwards-Helaire totaled 138 yards in his debut and then put together a 161-yard performance against the Bills five weeks later. But injuries and fumbling issues plagued the former SEC talent.

Edwards-Helaire, 25 next week, started in Super Bowl LV and entered the 2021 season as Kansas City’s top back. But the 5-foot-7 ball carrier saw Jerick McKinnon take over as the team’s top receiving back late in 2021 — as more injury trouble intervened for the younger player. McKinnon held that role over the following two seasons, and Edwards-Helaire — who totaled 453 receiving yards for LSU’s national championship-winning team in 2019 — has not eclipsed 200 through the air since 2020.

Pacheco and McKinnon became the Chiefs’ primary backs in 2022, as Edwards-Helaire played in only 10 games. CEH did not play during the 2022 playoffs. Despite being activated off IR for Super Bowl LVII, Edwards-Helaire was a healthy scratch against the Eagles. Edwards-Helaire played in all four Chiefs playoff games last season but only logged two carries combined between the AFC championship game and Super Bowl LVIII.

This signing would seem to impact Dobbins’ chances of catching on with the Chiefs, with McKinnon also unsigned. The veteran receiving back, who has stabilized his career in Missouri after missing two full seasons previously, has made a habit of re-signing with the Chiefs after the draft. McKinnon did miss six straight games before being activated for Super Bowl LVIII. The 2014 draftee would also be going into his age-32 season in 2024. It remains to be seen if McKinnon will be back, but Edwards-Helaire will vie for the Chiefs’ RB2 role soon.

As for Dobbins, The Athletic’s Nate Taylor adds his productive visit may lead to a partnership later this offseason. But nothing is imminent as of now. Dobbins, who has been cleared for work after suffering an ACL tear in Week 1, has now visited the Chiefs and Chargers.

Chiefs To Host RB J.K. Dobbins

The Chargers recently hosted running back J.K. Dobbins on a free agent visit, but they are not the only AFC West team showing interest. The Chiefs will bring in Dobbins today, per his agency (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

Dobbins entered the offseason as one of several notable running backs on the market. To little surprise, many other producers at the position quickly landed a deal while the former Ravens starter remains unsigned. Dobbins’ career has been defined by a pair of major ailments: the major knee injury suffered in the 2021 preseason which included an ACL tear and the Achilles tear which ended his 2023 campaign in Week 1.

When on the field, though, the 25-year-old has proven to be an effective rusher. Dobbins averaged six yards per carry in his rookie season, one in which he took over from Mark Ingram as Baltimore’s lead back midway through the campaign. That led to high expectations ahead of 2021, but the injury sidelined him well into the 2022 season. A cleanup procedure produced another absence, but upon return Dobbins proved to still be efficient (5.7 yards per carry in eight games).

The Ohio State product would represent a high-upside addition to Kansas City’s offense, a unit which has seen former first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire‘s rookie deal expire. The latter remains unsigned, as does veteran Jerick McKinnon. Kansas City still has Isiah Pacheco on the books for two more years, and he and Dobbins would comprise a low-cost backfield provided the former second-rounder was forced to sign a ‘prove-it’ deal in the wake of his availability issues.

The Ravens lost 2023 touchdown leader Gus Edwards to the Chargers, who have a familiar offensive coordinator in Greg Roman. Baltimore has added Derrick Henry, a move suggesting Dobbins could be forced to head elsewhere on his second contract. With multiple suitors now in play, it will be interesting to see how much of a market he is able to generate and if a deal is worked out before the upcoming draft. Pending the Carson Wentz agreement becoming official, Kansas City currently has $6.5MM in cap space.

Chargers Host RB J.K. Dobbins

After adding former Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Jim Harbaugh and the Chargers were quick to sign Gus Edwards. Now, the Chargers are eyeing another former Ravens running back in J.K. Dobbins, with Howard Balzer reporting that the free agent visited the organization today.

[RELATED: Chargers To Sign RB Gus Edwards]

After letting Austin Ekeler walk as a free agent, the Chargers didn’t waste time adding Edwards to their RBs room. The veteran is the most accomplished player on the positional depth chart, a grouping that also includes Isaiah Spiller, Elijah Dotson, and Jaret Patterson. Considering the overall lack of experience, it’s not a surprise that the Ravens are targeting more reinforcement at the position, and they’re continuing their trend of eyeing contributors from Roman’s former offense.

Dobbins was a second-round pick by the Ravens back in 2020 and contributed immediately. Despite splitting carries with Edwards, Dobbins finished his rookie campaign with 925 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns. An ACL tear and a subsequent knee injury wiped out his entire 2021 season and half of his 2022 campaign. He averaged an efficient 5.7 yards per carry following his return, not a huge drop from his six yards per carry in 2020.

The 25-year-old was eyeing the most significant role of his career in 2023. However, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in Week 1, ending his season after only 10 touches. It’s been relatively quiet on the Dobbins front since he hit free agency. The Ravens seemed to shut the door on a potential reunion by adding Derrick Henry to a room that already included Keaton Mitchell and Justice Hill.

Dobbins’ injury history certainly makes him a question mark in free agency, and he’ll likely have to settle for a prove-it, one-year pact to show he’s back to full strength. For a Chargers RB corps that lacks top-end talent, that wouldn’t be a bad gamble for the organization.

Ravens Rumors: OLBs, Mitchell, Dobbins

The Ravens defense saw a number of surprise contributors in 2023. From backup safety Geno Stone leading the AFC in interceptions to Justin Madubuike, Jadeveon Clowney, and Kyle Van Noy exploding to help the team lead the NFL in sacks, Baltimore excelled thanks to contributions from players other than All-Pros like Roquan Smith, Kyle Hamilton, and Patrick Queen.

All four of the surprise contributors mentioned above had expiring contracts when the Ravens fell short of their Super Bowl aspirations. Madubuike received the franchise tag before ultimately signing a massive four-year, $98MM extension after his 13.0 sack-season. Stone earned a nice deal of his own, branching out to the division-rival Bengals as he searched for an opportunity to start full-time, instead of sharing the stage with Hamilton and Marcus Williams.

Clowney and Van Noy, on the other hand, remain free agents on the open market. Clowney saw a bounce-back season following a disappointing exit from Cleveland. Despite joining the roster in the middle of the preseason, Clowney would start 15 games for the Ravens, matching his career-high in sacks (9.5) while tallying nine tackles for loss, 19 quarterback hits, five passes defensed, and two forced fumbles. Despite early reports that both sides were interested in a new deal, the Panthers and Jets have swept in as teams with massive interest in signing Clowney.

Van Noy exploded for the rare career-year at 32 years old. Despite only starting three games as a rotation player, Van Noy finished third on the team with a career-high nine sacks. Van Noy hasn’t been nearly as active in free agency visits, but his stellar 2023 season all but ensures that he will earn at least one more NFL contract.

Head coach John Harbaugh recently claimed to be optimistic about the prospects of bringing one or both of Clowney and/or Van Noy back in 2024, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. If they aren’t able to do so, though, the Ravens continue to have faith in former first-round pick Odafe Oweh and former second-round pick David Ojabo. According to Harbaugh, Ojabo, who has only appeared in five games over his first two seasons, is healthy. The long-time head coach predicted a breakout season for the 23-year-old in 2024.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of Baltimore, where our thoughts and condolences are after the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge:

  • The Ravens certainly lost a massive offensive chess piece when J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury in Baltimore’s season opener. Their losses compounded late in the season when, in the midst of a run towards the No. 1 seed in the AFC, Keaton Mitchell, an explosive undrafted rookie who was helping to replace Dobbins’ lost production, suffered an ACL tear in Week 15. General manager Eric DeCosta spoke on his recovery recently, saying that the team feels Mitchell is on track “to come back this season,” per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
  • Speaking of Dobbins, though he’s not currently a Raven after the team allowed his rookie contract to expire, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network informs us that the 25-year-old rusher has been cleared for football activities. His surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, said in a letter to select teams today that Dobbins looks “outstanding” coming off his torn Achilles. Dobbins is expected to begin taking visits soon, though the Ravens have not been mentioned much as a candidate to land his continued services.

RBs A Priority For Ravens In Offseason

We noted something similar back in February, but the Ravens have made it clear lately that additions to the running backs group will be a priority in the offseason. Whether that comes through re-signing expiring deals, signing veteran free agents, or pursuing a rookie prospect, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic’s quote from general manager Eric DeCosta says it best: (they) need more than two running backs.

The Ravens have lots of work to do in the coming weeks with expiring contracts all over their 2023 roster, but DeCosta is fully aware of which potential departures leave them most bare. Both former undrafted veteran Gus Edwards and former second-round pick J.K. Dobbins are set to hit free agency this spring, as will late-season addition Dalvin Cook and practice squad backs Melvin Gordon and Owen Wright, though Wright, an undrafted rookie, has signed a futures deal with the team. That leaves only Justice Hill and another undrafted rookie in Keaton Mitchell as the only two running backs with in-game experience on the roster moving forward.

Hill signed a two-year deal a year ago and will now play out the final season of that contract. He had the best season of his career in 2023 but has still failed to surpass 400 rushing yards or 4 touchdowns in a season. He expanded his role this year by adding 206 receiving yards. Mitchell was a pleasant surprise as a rookie, touting an outstanding 8.43 yards per carry average in eight games played. The diminutive back flashed elite speed and play-making ability when healthy, but a torn ACL midway through December leaves the team without their explosive second-year player for likely the entire offseason.

In our previous discussion on the subject, we laid out the cases for Dobbins and Edwards. Dobbins showed incredible upside as a rookie but has since struggled mightily to stay on the field. Edwards had been a reliable short-yardage and goal-line back in the early days of Jackson’s career, backing up Mark Ingram before teaming up with Dobbins and Hill. The big-bodied back with the nickname “Gus the Bus” has six years under his belt but showed no signs of slowing with a career-high 990 scrimmage yards and 13 rushing touchdowns this season. At the NFL scouting combine DeCosta made it known that the organization has not shut the door on the idea of bringing the two back. In fact, DeCosta claimed the team was “hopeful (they) can get something done with those guys,” per Ravens staff writers Clifton Brown and Ryan Mink.

We also explored the idea of free agency in our previous post. There are a number of big names hitting the open market this offseason, and Baltimore has already been connected to a few. Titans bell-cow Derrick Henry has been linked to the team since the days of the trade deadline. Other notable names like the Giants’ Saquon Barkley, the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs, and the Cowboys’ Tony Pollard have been mentioned, as well.

In the draft, there a couple intriguing names to look at like Michigan rusher Blake Corum or Texas running back Jonathon Brooks, but Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen is a name that has been making the rounds in Baltimore. If the team fails to sign any of the above veterans, expect the Ravens to pursue one of these players early in the draft. If a big name puts pen to paper, though, Baltimore will likely be content to take a late-round addition or even peruse the undrafted dregs once again.

Regardless, additions are going to be necessary in 2024. Especially with Mitchell coming back from a serious injury, the team can’t well expect to find success with only him, Hill, and Wright heading into the 2024 NFL season. Whether they bring back Edwards or Dobbins, sign a big-name in free agency like Henry or Barkley, or draft a high-end prospect, somebody will have to join the three currently in the running backs room.

Ravens Not Looking Externally For RB Help

The Ravens were forced to swallow a heavy pill when starting running back J.K. Dobbins suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the team’s win over the Texans this weekend. For solutions, many thought to look at the free agent or trade market, both of which are ripe with talented veterans, but head coach John Harbaugh said today that Baltimore will not be looking externally for running back help, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.

With options like Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette in free agency and a player like Jonathan Taylor reportedly available via trade, no one would blame Harbaugh and company for bringing in an experienced starter to tote the rock. Instead, the Ravens feel confident in the options they have in-house to take over with Harbaugh even indicating that they will be operating with a committee in the backfield.

When Dobbins exited Sunday’s game, fifth-year backup Justice Hill stepped in and immediately scored a touchdown, his first since the 2019 season. While he later scored a second touchdown, matching his career-high for a season, Hill only amassed nine yards on eight carries. Veteran backup rusher Gus Edwards, who has filled in as a starter at times in his career, was a bit more productive with his eight carries, racking up 32 yards.

Adding veterans didn’t quite deliver the desired result two years ago when Dobbins, Edwards, and Hill all missed the 2021 season with season-ending injuries before the year even began. That year, Baltimore turned to a committee featuring veteran backs like Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Le’Veon Bell in conjunction with Ty’Son Williams. Freeman and Murray each reached 500 rushing yards and delivered six scores apiece, but overall, the running game was dependent on quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Still, the Ravens added veteran rusher Melvin Gordon in the offseason, ultimately cutting him and signing him to the practice squad before the regular season. Gordon seems like an obvious callup to help carry the load without Dobbins. The Ravens also saw some impressive preseason performances from undrafted rookies Keaton Mitchell and Owen Wright, landing both on the team’s roster in some capacity to start the year. Mitchell currently resides on injured reserve himself, so he’s unable to contribute at this time. Wright, though, landed on the practice squad and may also hear his number called up to the active roster this season.

Dobbins is now expected to undergo surgery to repair his Achilles tendon this Friday, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Pelissero points out that Rams running back Cam Akers recovered from a similar surgery in less than six months two years ago. Dobbins will be aiming for a similar timeline, bringing him back shortly after the start of the 2024 league year.

In other injury news, Harbaugh confirmed that starting free safety Marcus Williams “will be out for a while” after suffering a pectoral muscle injury, according to Ravens editorial director Ryan Mink. Williams missed seven games in his Baltimore debut last year and will be forced to miss more in 2023, but the team is holding out hope that he will not be out for the season. He’ll be forced to make a decision soon on whether or not he will undergo surgery, as well.

In Williams’ absence, the team turned to Geno Stone yesterday. Stone started the seven games missed by Williams last year, as well. The team also has versatile defensive backs Brandon Stephens and Ar’Darius Washington that they can turn to. Stephens recently moved back to safety after spending time at cornerback when the depth chart was thin there. Washington has always been a safety but got extensive work in the slot this offseason.

Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum suffered a sprained knee and ankle, respectively, forcing them both to leave the game early, as well. Both players are reportedly “week-to-week” but could miss the trip to Cincinnati this Sunday. Versatile sixth-man Patrick Mekari stepped in for Stanley yesterday and is an easy choice to start as an injury replacement as he’s done so often in the past. Offseason addition and practice squad callup Sam Mustipher filled in at center and will likely continue to do so, if needed.

The team will certainly hope that they won’t need to rely on Mekari and Mustipher for too long, and though they are clearly missing many bodies for the upcoming matchup with their division-rival, they’ll hope to get some back, too. Both cornerback Marlon Humphrey and tight end Mark Andrews will have a chance to play this weekend. There’s still work to be done, but things have been looking up recently for both players.

Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins Suffers Torn Achilles

3:37pm: Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed after the game that Dobbins has indeed suffered an Achilles tear. His season is now over, and questions will be raised about his financial future with his rookie contract set to expire in March. The Ravens ran for 110 yards in a 25-9 win on Sunday, but their ground game has taken a major blow given today’s news.

3:03pm: Expectations were high to start the season for J.K. Dobbins, who is set to hit free agency at the end of the campaign. He may do so coming off of another massive injury.

The Ravens’ lead running back is feared to have suffered a torn Achilles during the team’s Week 1 contest against the Texans, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. He adds that an MRI is required to confirm a diagnosis, but in such a scenario, the news would mark the second season-ending injury of Dobbins’ brief NFL career.

The former second-rounder suffered a knee injury which included an ACL tear in the 2021 preseason. He missed his second Baltimore campaign in its entirety as a result, and questions lingered about his ability to return to full health last season. Dobbins was eased back into action, and he ultimately underwent a cleanup procedure in October. The decision to do so proved to be effective considering his production upon return.

Dobbins averaged 6.96 yards per carry in the final four games of the regular season, and he recorded 105 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in Baltimore’s postseason loss to the Bengals. With his injury seemingly in the past, Dobbins appeared to be well-positioned for a strong season in 2023, something which would have had considerable financial implications moving forward. The Ohio State alum expressed frustration with his contract status, though the team has indicated on multiple occasions that they want to keep him in the fold.

Extension talks have already taken place, but if the injury does prove to be an Achilles tear, Dobbins’ value will obviously suffer greatly. Running backs as a whole saw their market continue to take a step back this offseason, and essentially a second campaign missed in its entirety would leave the 24-year-old with a weaker negotiating position. For the time being, the Ravens will move forward with a shorthanded RB room.

Backup Gus Edwards and special teamer Justice Hill will be in line for an increased role in Dobbins’ absence, something of significance for the former in particular since he too is headed for free agency in March. Baltimore also retained undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell on the active roster, and he will likely see game action presuming Dobbins is indeed set to be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign.

Ravens GM Discusses J.K. Dobbins Contract, Wants To Keep RB In Baltimore

After being activated from PUP earlier this month, J.K. Dobbins assured that he’d be leading the backfield heading into the 2023 campaign. However, his status beyond this season continues to be in doubt.

[RELATED: Ravens Have Discussed Extension With RB J.K. Dobbins]

There were some whispers that Dobbins’ absence from OTAs and minicamp could be related to his expiring contract, and the two sides reportedly engaged in extension talks earlier this month. However, there’s been no progress since that time, and it looks like Dobbins will hit free agency following the upcoming campaign.

Despite his uncertain future status in Baltimore, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta made it clear that the two sides are interested in a long-term arrangement.

“We love J.K.,” DeCosta told reporters yesterday (via Brian Wacker and Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun). “When he’s played, he’s been a warrior. He’s played through injuries when he’s been able to. Very talented guy, great attitude. He’s a leader, he’s respected. I’ve got a strong affinity for him personally.

“We’re excited to see what he’s gonna do this year. I know he wants to be here. We want him here.”

As the Baltimore Sun reporters note, Dobbins previously danced around the question of whether he skipped OTAs because of contract or injury concerns.

“That’s a tough question,” Dobbins said late last month. “I was just being cautious. My teammates need me, so I want to be there for my teammates. That’s all it was. My teammates understood what was going on.”

It’s not a huge surprise that the Ravens are remaining patient before handing Dobbins a new deal. After all, the former second-round pick missed the entire 2021 campaign while recovering from a major knee injury. He required another cleanup procedure during the 2022 campaign, limiting him to only eight games overall (plus another playoff game).

Dobbins’ camp could point to the RB’s production before and after the cleanup procedure. Before, Dobbins averaged 3.51 yards on his 35 attempts. In the four games after his return, he averaged 6.96 yards on his 57 carries, and he had 105 yards from scrimmage on 17 touches in the playoffs.

The declining RB market likely means Dobbins will be hard pressed to earn a lucrative pay day. Considering his injury-marred 2021 and 2022 seasons, it makes sense for both sides to wait it out and see how Dobbins holds up for the entire 2023 campaign.