OWINGS MILLS — The Baltimore Ravens announced their 53-man roster Saturday at the 4 p.m. deadline.
The biggest surprise was arguably the release of defensive tackle Willie Henry, a player who once seemed in line for a starting job and who has one year remaining on his rookie contract. Other notable cuts included wide receiver Michael Floyd, outside linebacker Shane Ray, cornerback Maurice Canady and safety Brynden Trawick.
The Ravens kept an undrafted rookie free agent on their initial 53-man roster for the 16th year in a row with offensive lineman Patrick Mekari and inside linebacker Otaro Alaka.
Defensive backs Tavon Young and Fish Smithson, running back Kenneth Dixon, linebacker Alvin Jones and offensive lineman Randin Crecelius were placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Here’s how the roster shakes out:
Quarterbacks (3): Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III, Trace McSorley
The only question regarding this group was whether Baltimore would keep two or three signal callers. Historically, the Ravens have only held two quarterbacks on their active roster, but they kept three a season ago for the first time in several years.
McSorley, a sixth-round pick out of Penn State, did enough to earn a roster spot. The rookie took advantage of extra snaps following Griffin’s thumb injury, throwing for 533 yards and four touchdowns while improving each game. The Ravens drafted McSorley with visions on utilizing his versatility on special teams, too.
Running backs (4): Mark Ingram, Gus Edward, Justice Hill, Patrick Ricard (fullback)
Dixon’s status was one of the biggest uncertainties in recent weeks. The questions were answered Saturday with his inclusion among the players placed on injured reserve. The fourth-year running back is undoubtedly talented, but has struggled with injuries and suspensions early in his career. Speculation was that the Ravens were looking to trade him prior to the cutdown deadline.
Ricard, one of the league’s few two-way players, will double as a fullback and defensive lineman. He also lines up as a tight end in certain packages.
Wide receiver (6): Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Chris Moore, Willie Snead IV, Seth Roberts, Jaleel Scott
Brown and Boykin are first and third-round picks, respectively. Moore is in his fourth season and a candidate for a breakout year. Snead is the most productive wideout the Ravens return.
Those four guys were locks.
Roberts signed a one-year deal with the Ravens in April. He got off to a strong start in training camp, but then missed multiple weeks with an injury.
Scott was a question mark who played his way onto the 53-man roster. The second-year wide receiver had 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason.
Floyd was one of the team’s more notable cuts. Undrafted rookies Antoine Wesley and Sean Modster both impressed in training camp, but faced too steep of a climb to win roster spots.
Tight ends (3): Hayden Hurst, Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle
The Ravens believe they have one of the best tight end groups in the NFL. All three will be major contributors.
Undrafted rookies Charles Scarff (Delaware) and Cole Herdman had a shot as Baltimore usually keeps four tight ends, but neither did enough to warrant a roster spot.
Offensive line (9): Ronnie Stanley, Marshal Yanda, Matt Skura, Orlando Brown, James Hurst, Bradley Bozeman, Ben Powers, Greg Senat, Patrick Mekari
Senat and Mekari both faced uncertain decisions, but benefitted from the late trade of Jermaine Eluemunor. Mekari, one of the two undrafted rookies on the roster, flashed valuable versatility Thursday night against Washington when he lined up at three different positions along the offensive line.
Four of the five starting spots are accounted for, while who will start at left guard remains unclear. Hurst, Bozeman, Powers and Mekari remain in the mix.
Defensive line (5): Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, Chris Wormley, Daylon Mack, Patrick Ricard
Williams and Pierce make up one of the league’s better duos at defensive tackle and Wormley becomes a starter in his third NFL season. Mack was a fifth-round pick in April and Ricard adds depth while also contributing offensively.
Some of the more noteworthy cuts came along the defensive line, including Henry, Zach Sieler and Gerald Willis. Sieler would be entering his second season and will always be known as Ozzie Newsome’s final draft pick. Willis was one of the most highly-regard players to go undrafted, so he was initially thought of as the player likeliest to extend Baltimore’s 16-year streak. He never stood out in games and missed multiple practices with injuries.
Inside linebacker (4): Patrick Onwuasor, Chris Board, Kenny Young, Otaro Alaka
The Ravens had a concerning lack of depth at inside linebacker after C.J. Mosley’s departure following last season, so it makes sense that it’s a position where an undrafted rookie was able to secure a roster spot. Board made the team as an undrafted free agent a year ago, and will start this season alongside Onwuasor. Young will receive plenty of action in the rotation.
Outside linebacker (5): Matthew Judon, Pernell McPhee, Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams, Jaylon Ferguson
This was another unit where depth and production were alarming. The Ravens lost their top two sacks leaders from last season in free agency as Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith signed elsewhere. They signed Ray in free agency, but that move clearly did not work out.
Judon and McPhee will start on opposite edges and Bowser enjoyed a breakout preseason to begin his third year.
Don’t be surprised if this unit is one the Ravens continue to address in the coming days.
Cornerbacks (7): Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Anthony Averett, Cyrus Jones, Justin Bethel, Iman Marshall
The Ravens felt this group was one of the deepest and most talented in the NFL, but it suffered an unexpected blow midway through training camp when nickelback Tavon Young suffered a neck injury that landed him on injured reserve. The fourth-year pro recently signed a lucrative contract extension.
Expect Marshall, who has not practiced in weeks, to head to IR in the coming days. Because he was part of the team’s initial 53-man roster, he could be designated to return after eight weeks. Beginning the year on IR ends Young’s season, the second full campaign he will miss in four years.
Humphrey, Smith and Carr remain one of the league’s top cornerback trios.
Safety (5): Earl Thomas, Tony Jefferson, Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Anthony Levine
Like the cornerbacks, Baltimore believes this group is one of the best in football. Thomas was among the top defensive free agents to shift teams this offseason. Elliott looks good after missing his entire would-be rookie year. Jefferson remains a solid and consistent box safety.
Levine, a player without a traditional position, is an ace dime linebacker.
Specialists (3): Justin Tucker, Sam Koch, Morgan Cox
No discussion to be had here. Tucker is the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Koch is regarded as one of the league’s best punter. Cox is the face of consistency as a long snapper.
First-year general manager Eric DeCosta executed a trade that has to be considered one of the best in franchise history in landing a fifth-round draft pick from the Minnesota Vikings for kicker Kaare Vedvik. Vedvik was cut by the Vikings Saturday.
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