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Ravens Bring Back Center Jeremy Zuttah to Bolster Thin Interior Offensive Line

Posted Aug 18, 2017

Baltimore traded the veteran starting center to the San Francisco 49ers five months ago. The 49ers released him last week, however, and it was perfect timing for the banged-up Ravens.

Five months after trading him, the Ravens have brought veteran center Jeremy Zuttah back to Baltimore.

The two sides agreed to a two-year deal with a $4 million base salary and maximum of $6 million if certain playing time levels are met, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Zuttah was also reportedly drawing interest from the Indianapolis Colts.

It's the Ravens' second significant offensive line addition since the start of training camp, as they also signed right tackle Austin Howard two weeks ago.

Baltimore traded Zuttah to the San Francisco 49ers on March 15 to move up 12 spots in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The 49ers released Zuttah last week, however, and it came at the perfect time to help the banged-up Ravens.

Zuttah, 31, will help provide more depth and an experienced starter to the interior offensive line, which has lost three players due to retirement and season-ending injuries.

The question is whether the Ravens plan for Zuttah to replace Ryan Jensen, who has been working as the starting center since the beginning of training camp. That could bump Jensen to left guard to fill the hole created by Alex Lewis’ injury.

As of now, James Hurst would be in line to be the team’s starting left guard, but he’s more naturally suited to play tackle. Once injured left tackle Ronnie Stanley returns to the field, and with Howard at right tackle, Hurst would likely be the third swing tackle.

Zuttah started 41 games in Baltimore over the past three years, including all 16 last year when he went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.

The Ravens needed help after John Urschel suddenly retired hours before training camp opened, and after injuries to starting left guard Lewis (shoulder) and rookie guard Nico Siragusa (knee).

Baltimore’s starting offensive line Thursday night against the Miami Dolphins featured four undrafted players, including Matt Skura and Jarrod Pughsley at left and right guard, respectively.

Zuttah obviously knows Baltimore's offense, but he'll have to adjust to the new run-zone schemes brought by Greg Roman and a new offensive line coach in Joe D'Alessandris. Still, to find such a player and fit midway through training camp is a big break for Baltimore.

"I'm really proud of the way they're working at it and making it what we can," Head Coach John Harbaugh said of the injury-riddled offensive line after Thursday's game. "I think we're going to be a good offensive line before it's all said and done."

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