The Baltimore Ravens must look at new options at running back after J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1’s tainted victory versus the Houston Texans.
Despite winning the game 25-9, the Ravens suffered a plethora of injuries to key players, including Marcus Williams, Ronnie Stanley and Tyler Linderbaum. However, it was Dobbins’ injury that was most concerning.
Following the game, John Harbaugh confirmed that Dobbins’ injury was an Achilles tear. That means that he will be out for the rest of the season. Given that Dobbins is seeking a new contract, this is undoubtedly bad news for him.
It is also bad news for Baltimore. Dobbins was penciled in as the team’s lead running back. As such, the Ravens will have to pivot and see what running back options are on the table following Dobbins’ injury.
The team could go in many directions, but most solutions fall into one of two categories. Eric DeCosta can either decide to find a new lead back or he could find more depth and opt to keep more of a committee. Given how well Justice Hill played in Week 1, the committee might be the preferred option. However, in 2022, Hill was best-suited to a backup, change-of-pace role.
5 External Options for Baltimore Ravens at Running Back Following Dobbins Injury
Jonathan Taylor (Trade)
Jonathan Taylor will be the name that most fans are bandying around. Taylor is one of the league’s premier running backs and is currently at a crossroads with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Ravens could, therefore, swoop in and trade for the star do-it-all back. However, Jim Irsay’s asking price may be too high. It is rumored that the Colts were offered two mid-round picks for Taylor, which they turned down. It is unclear that the Ravens would be willing to offer more.
There is also the problem of Taylor’s injury designation. Despite being healthy, Taylor has been listed in the PUP list. This means that he will only be available for Week 5 and cannot participate in any team activities until then. Can the Ravens trust their current backfield for four (likelier five) weeks? Given the lack of depth and star power, it is unlikely.
The third problem with a move for Taylor is the contract. Taylor is currently awaiting a new deal that will see him earn around the $16 million mark.
The Ravens have bucked the NFL consensus when it comes to contract priorities. However, despite their willingness to pay ‘non-premium positions’, paying over $15 million for a running back might be a little rich even for Baltimore. This is especially true after the team paid Lamar Jackson and Roquan Smith handsomely.
Of course, Taylor remains the most talented option available. There is no question about that. His elite, versatile skillset would make him an immediate scheme fit for Baltimore. However, his acquisition would come with many caveats. Perhaps too many for Baltimore to really take any trade talk seriously.
Jonathan Taylor ICES this game.
67-yard touchdown run 🔥
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 19, 2021
Kareem Hunt (Free Agent)
The Ravens have been linked with Kareem Hunt many times this off-season. They even had him for a visit. Hunt, 28, remains a free agent despite receiving four contract offers. It seems, however, none of those have been to his liking.
With Baltimore desperate to replenish their running back room, they could be willing to beat out the competition for his signature. Given that Dalvin Cook received a one-year deal worth up to $8.6 million, Hunt would likely receive a one-year deal in the range of $6-8 million. This would allow Baltimore to reassess their options following this season.
Hunt would make a lot of sense for Baltimore. The Pro Bowler was once a feature back for the Kansas City Chiefs. As a complement to Nick Chubb, he also flashed. In Baltimore, he would likely be the ‘1A’ back.
2022, however, was Hunt’s worst season to date. He had just 678 total yards and four total touchdowns. Those are solid RB2 numbers, but certainly not where Hunt wanted to be.
On the Ravens, Hunt would have a chance to reignite his career. Despite Todd Monken implementing a new offense, the team remains run-first. Monken has also prioritized the receiving game out of the backfield. This is something that Hunt excels at.
Kareem Hunt jumps over a defender for the touchdown 😳pic.twitter.com/GIRwBLvTBB
— Everything Cleveland (@everythingcle_) November 22, 2020
J.D. McKissic (Free Agent)
Speaking of strong receiving backs, J.D. McKissic is another player who is an above-average receiver out of the backfield. McKissic has caught for over 1,000 receiving yards in his career. Notably, in his first season with the Washington Commanders, he caught 80 passes for 589 yards and two touchdowns. His skillset makes him a perfect fit for Monken, although McKissic would likely be deployed as a rotational piece alongside Hill and Gus Edwards.
McKissic is now a free agent at age 30. Given his age and lack of high-end success in the NFL, the Ravens would be able to offer McKissic a cheap, one-year deal.
Antonio Gibson (Trade)
Many still believe that Antonio Gibson could be a top back in the NFL. However, it appears that his time in Washington is grinding to a halt. In Week 1, Gibson managed a meagre output and was clearly sidelined by Brian Robinson Jr., a 2022 draft pick. Therefore, the Commanders could look to move Gibson.
Given his lack of career production, Gibson would not cost Baltimore very much. A mid-round pick would represent his highest value right now. That is a bargain for a 25-year-old back with a $3 million cap hit and high potential. Not to mention, Gibson’s deal runs out at the end of the year so Baltimore can re-think their options after the season.
Gibson would be a perfect scheme fit for Monken. Like all the backs on this list, Gibson is a capable receiver. However, Gibson’s receiving ability is certainly the best of all the names listed as he is also known to take snaps at receiver. This would give Baltimore another unpredictable element while also providing some low-end receiver depth.
Antonio Gibson and the Commanders turn the ball over AGAIN. This time in the red zone.
Cardinals take over. Zaven Collins with a fumble recovery and an INT today. pic.twitter.com/uqziCBlWBx
— Arye Pulli (@AryePulli) September 10, 2023
Michael Carter (Trade)
Michael Carter rounds this list off. The Ravens running back room is missing some youth and explosiveness after Dobbins’ injury. Carter brings both of those.
At 24 years old, it appears that Carter has been sent to the bottom of the New York Jets pecking order. The team prefer Cook and Breece Hall, making Carter largely expendable. Given that New York also has Zonovan Knight and Israel Abanikanda, Carter is better used as trade bait than depth.
Carter flashed as a rookie for the Jets. However, since then, his career has regressed. Even when Hall was injured last season, Carter looked a shell of his former self.
With that said, Carter is just 24. He has shown that he has the potential to be a strong runner and is also a highly competent receiver out of the backfield. Baltimore would present an opportunity to reinvigorate his career. Monken would likely use Carter within a committee.
Carter’s lack of career production means that he would not cost Baltimore very much. A late-round pick should do the trick. The former UNC back still has two years on his rookie deal meaning his cap hit sits at just over $1 million in both 2023 and 2024.
The Michael Carter touchdown run: Great job by Nate Herbig getting to the second level, touchdown-sealing block. He’s been a nice addition to OL. pic.twitter.com/B19e0oOves
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) November 6, 2022
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