The news that Crockett Gillmore is making the switch from tight end to offensive tackle adds a bit of intrigue to the Baltimore Ravens' offseason.
Gillmore is a pending free agent, and after missing 31 of 48 games during the past three seasons, the former third-round pick appeared to be finished in Baltimore. The Ravens already have two young tight ends in Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, they might re-sign Ben Watson if he does not retire and they are expected to be in the market for an athletic, playmaking tight end.
That would seem to leave little room for Gillmore, who missed all of this past season with a knee injury and has been bothered by injuries throughout his four-year career. He missed the final nine games of the 2016 season with a hamstring injury and missed six games in 2010 with a back injury.
Gillmore's best season came in 2015, when he started 10 games and had 33 catches for 412 yards and four touchdowns.
But whether with the Ravens or elsewhere, it appears Gillmore, who has always prided himself on the physical part of the game, is reinventing himself as an offensive lineman.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec, Gillmore has been training at former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley's offensive line academy in Arizona, and Gillmore has added nearly 40 pounds to his 6-foot-6 frame, according to his agent's website. Gillmore is listed at 305 pounds after playing tight end at about 265 pounds.
Granted, that is still smaller than the Ravens' two starting tackles this season -- Ronnie Stanley is listed at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, and Austin Howard is listed at 6-foot-7, 330 pounds. But the Ravens love the idea of athletic, physical tackles, and Gillmore might have increased his chances of returning to the Ravens with the move, given their lack of depth there.
The Ravens have first-round pick Ronnie Stanley entrenched at left tackle, and Austin Howard could be back at right tackle, though he has a $5 million cap hit for next season and the Ravens would clear $3 million in cap space if they release him.
Many mock drafts have linked the Ravens to an offensive tackle in the first round, with one possibility being Oklahoma's Orlando Brown Jr., the son of the former Raven.
The Ravens' top backups at tackle at the moment are Andrew Donnal, who played sparingly after being claimed off waivers midseason; Maurquice Shakir, a former practice squad player who did not appear in any games; and Jermaine Eluemunor, a fifth-round draft pick who saw some action at guard.
Another possibility at tackle is Alex Lewis, who said after the season that he expects to be fully recovered from the shoulder injury that cost him all of last season. The Ravens, though, would prefer to keep him at left guard, which they see as his ideal position. At right guard, perennial Pro Bowl pick Marshal Yanda is expected to be back after missing almost all of last season with an ankle injury.
The biggest question up front for the Ravens is whether center Ryan Jensen returns or cashes a big free-agency payday elsewhere.
As usual, the Ravens will contemplate a lot of possibilities and combinations up front, and Gillmore represents an intriguing, athletic project should they choose to re-sign him. But his injury history, and his lack of experience as a lineman, should temper any expectation.