Josh Oliver went from a bubble player in Ravens training camp to one of the league's best blocking tight ends.
Now one of the Ravens most improved players of 2022 will be compensated for it, as Oliver has agreed to terms on a reported three-year, $21 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
Oliver played in all 17 games, including nine starts, and caught 14 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns. But it wasn't mostly his receiving prowess that led him to finding a quick suitor in free agency.
While Oliver entered the league viewed primarily as a receiving threat, he improved tremendously as a blocker this season. With a 6-foot-5, 259-pound frame, Oliver became a key part of Greg Roman's run concepts, stepping into a role similar to that previously held by Nick Boyle.
Oliver earned the third-highest run blocking grade of any tight end in the league among those who played more than eight games. Roman said Oliver's run blocking improved as much as any player he ever worked with over one year's time.
Two years ago, the Ravens acquired Oliver in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick. Now, according to OvertheCap’s Nick Korte, the Ravens are projected to receive a sixth-round compensatory pick in 2024 in return.
Oliver is the second Ravens free agent to reportedly agree to terms on the first day free agency unofficially opened with the legal tampering period. Ben Powers also reportedly agreed to a deal with the Denver Broncos. Both were players who weren't even assured of a roster spot heading into training camp.
The Ravens are still loaded at tight end with one of the best at the position, Mark Andrews, as well as rising sophomores Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar.
Andrews' blocking has also greatly improved over the years, and Kolar has a similar build to Oliver at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds with room to add more muscle. Likely flashed as a receiver in his rookie season. Now the pair of 2022 fourth-round picks will have a greater chance to show what they can do next season.