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Ravens Hopeful They Can Bring Back Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins

RB Gus Edwards
RB Gus Edwards

The Ravens have just two running backs under contract who played in 2023 – Justice Hill and Keaton Mitchell, who is recovering from season-ending knee surgery. There is plenty of buzz about the possibility of adding a big-name free agent.

However, General Manager Eric DeCosta said the door has not been closed on free agent running backs Gus Edwards or J.K. Dobbins returning next season. Edwards led Baltimore's running backs with a career-high 810 yards and 13 touchdowns and has spent his entire five-year career with the Ravens. 

"We're still talking to Gus. We'll talk to J.K. – a couple of free agents that we had," DeCosta said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We're hopeful that we can get something done with those guys."

"I love the way Justice played. He was incredible all year, took another step. He's a great player, then, after that, we just have to see," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We would love to get Gus back. J.K. is floating around out there. Those guys have been with us. We'll just have to see how it goes."

This year's deep free agent running back class includes proven backs such as Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler and Tony Pollard. It remains to be seen if the Ravens will a veteran, but they will get a closer look this week at the prospects in this year's draft.

How the Ravens go about adding to their running back room remains a top offseason priority.

"We need more than two running backs, so certainly I think you'll see us make a couple acquisitions along the way," DeCosta said. "We think Keaton Mitchell's going to come back from his knee injury. Justice is a player last year that was probably one of the unsung heroes of our whole team, I would say.

"We've looked at the draft class. It's probably not as deep as some other positions that we'll see in this year's draft class. There's some talented [free agent] players that we will look at as well, but I think it's probably safe to say that we'll have more than two running backs on our roster at some point. We will definitely have a plan for that position."

Ravens, Odell Beckham Jr. Keeping Lines of Communication Open

Odell Beckham Jr. and DeCosta have texted each other during the offseason, although it remains uncertain if the veteran wide receiver will return to Baltimore in 2024. Beckham (35 catches, 565 yards, three touchdowns) and Nelson Agholor provided veteran leadership in the wide receiver room, and Beckham spoke often about how much he enjoyed playing in Baltimore.

"I love Odell," DeCosta said. "He's become a great friend of mine and a friend to the Ravens, and I think we'll just kind of assess and see what happens over the next couple of weeks."

The Ravens re-signed Agholor earlier this month, but that move does not preclude Beckham from returning.

"I've got my fingers crossed. We'll see," Harbaugh said.

DeCosta Has High Praise for Geno Stone, Who Could Be Moving On

Geno Stone finished second in the NFL with seven interceptions, putting himself in an enviable position as he approaches free agency. The Ravens have two quality starting safeties in All-Pro Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams, which decreases the chance that Stone will return next season.

Stone has made it clear he wants to start and proved his ability to play at a high level when Williams was out of the lineup due to injury. DeCosta expects Stone's success to continue wherever he plays next season.

"Geno might be the best seventh-round pick that we've ever had – playmaker, attitude, special teams," DeCosta said. "I love his cerebral nature, I love his attitude on the field. He fancies himself an overachiever; I love that about him.

"He's put himself in an awesome position. We're fortunate that we have some good safety depth, and I'm not really sure exactly what that means for Geno and the Ravens, but regardless, I know he's going to be a great pro. If he doesn't come back and play with us, he's going to be a great player for somebody else, and I would expect him to have a great career."

Odafe Oweh's Improvement Is More Than Just About Sacks

Another key decision this offseason for the Ravens will be whether to pick up the fifth-year options for wide receiver Rashod Bateman and/or outside linebacker Odafe Oweh. The deadline is May 2.

Harbaugh said Tuesday the ball will get to Bateman "a lot more next year" and that he expects the fourth-year receiver will take a "big step." Oweh, who had a career-high five sacks, also received high praise from DeCosta.

"We were really happy with [Oweh's] game this year," DeCosta said. "I think sometimes people get really caught up in the number of sacks that people get. We prefer to look at pressures and disruptions and their ability to affect the game.

"Odafe's probably one of the hardest-working players we have on our defense. He has a great motor. He plays with a passion. He's an exciting young prospect. He has battled back from some injuries, and we think that this is going to be a great season for him. We're very, very excited about what he brings to the table this year as one of our primary edge rush guys."

DeCosta wasn't asked about whether he anticipates using the fifth-year option on either player, but the Ravens are at least excited about what both will bring in 2024. Bateman's option would cost $14.4 million on next year's salary cap and Oweh's would be $13.2 million, per Spotrac.

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