The Ravens announced March 13 that they released veteran running back Danny Woodhead just one year into a three-year deal, as they look to free up cap space and revamp their offense.
In addition, NFL Network reported the Ravens declined to pick up an option on right tackle Austin Howard, which will free up $3 million in cap space. That move comes one day after they
re-signed versatile offensive lineman James Hurst
to a new four-year contract.
But the Ravens have picked up an option on veteran cornerback Brandon Carr, according to
The Baltimore Sun, solidifying a secondary dealing with lingering injury issues. Carr was considered by some to be a cap casualty, given that releasing him would have freed up $4 million in cap space, but recently, general manager Ozzie Newsome strongly suggested Carr would return.
Woodhead, 33, was signed to a three-year, $8.8 million deal last March, but he was bothered by injuries that limited him to eight games in 2017. Releasing Woodhead frees up about $1.8 million in cap space.
Woodhead dealt with a hamstring injury for much of training camp, and then missed eight games after re-aggravating the injury during the season opener against Cincinnati. He returned from injured reserve to play the final seven games. Primarily a third-down back, Woodhead finished with 33 catches for 200 yards and 14 rushes for 56 yards.
The Ravens signed Woodhead coming off a torn ACL that had cost him almost all of the 2016 season, but injuries have been an issue for him during the later stages of his nine-year career. Since the start of the 2014 season, his second of four seasons with the San Diego Chargers, Woodhead has played in 29 games and missed 35 with injuries.
At running back, the Ravens will return Alex Collins after his breakout season (212 carries, 973 yards, six rushing touchdowns) as well as Buck Allen. Terrance West is a pending free agent and is not expected to return, but promising running back Kenneth Dixon is expected back from injury and suspension, and the Ravens could further bolster the position in the draft.
In releasing Howard, who started all 16 games at right tackle in his only year in Baltimore (though he was on the practice squad in 2011), the Ravens appear to be banking on either Hurst or Alex Lewis moving into that starting spot.
The Ravens also could look to draft an offensive tackle. Howard, who turns 31 this month, was signed by the Ravens in August after being released by the Oakland Raiders.
Carr's return helps solidify a secondary that is dealing with injuries to starting cornerback Jimmy Smith (Achilles) and backups Tavon Young (knee) and Jaylen Hill (knee). Smith's status for the beginning of the season is unclear after he ruptured his Achilles tendon in December. Young was a candidate to be a starting slot corner before tearing an ACL last spring, and Hill tore an ACL in Week 16.
Given those injuries, the Ravens opted to bring back the durable Carr, 31, who has made 160 straight starts, the longest streak among all active defensive players.
At his Scouting Combine news conference March 2, Newsome suggested Carr would be back when he said, "Brandon played very well for us, and he's very, very good in our locker room."