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Mailbag: What Veteran Tight End Could the Ravens Add?

Left: Jordan Reed; Center: Delanie Walker; Right: Charles Clay
Left: Jordan Reed; Center: Delanie Walker; Right: Charles Clay

Mink: With Jacob Breeland not expected to play this season, I do expect the Ravens to sign a veteran tight end. Fellow undrafted rookie Eli Wolf will get a chance to win the No. 3 job, but the Ravens aren't in the business of handing out jobs without competition – particularly to an undrafted rookie, during a COVID-19 shortened offseason, at such a key position. The Ravens rely on three tight ends more than any team in the NFL.

Some of the top names still on the free-agent market are Jordan Reed, Delanie Walker, former Raven Ed Dickson, Charles Clay and Darren Fells. Of those, Walker stands out the most but there are questions. The 15-year veteran is 35 years old and has been plagued by an ankle injury the past two seasons. He dislocated his ankle in the season-opener in 2018 and was still dealing with it last year before being shut down after seven games.

If Walker's ankle is good, he's a great option because he's a strong blocker who could also be a major threat in the passing game. He caught 74 passes for 807 yards and three touchdowns in his last full season in 2017.

Downing: Breeland was one of the top candidates to compete for a roster spot, but now that he's expected to spend his rookie season on the sideline, that puts Wolf in the driver's seat to earn a job on the active roster. The Ravens indicated from the time they signed Wolf and Breeland that they had high hopes for the undrafted rookie tight ends, and they currently have a need at the position after trading Hayden Hurst this offseason. Picking out another undrafted rookie at this point is tough because they haven't even taken the field yet for practice, plus the Ravens have such a deep and talented roster. The rookies have a steep learning curve in training camp after missing the offseason practices, so it will be challenging for the undrafted prospects to stand out from the pack. Wolf has the potential to do it, but like Mink mentioned above, the Ravens will certainly create competition for that spot.

Mink: I'm sure the NFL will pay close attention mistakes made that contributed to the outbreak. The NFL will also watch to see how far the spread goes in the MLB and how they handle it moving forward. With that said, the NFL is confident in its own protocols reached in collaboration with the NFLPA. I don't expect the NFL to deviate from its much negotiated and researched plan just because another team/league had issues with their own set of rules.

Downing: I don't know that there is one position group that will be particularly targeted as part of the cutdown to 80 players. The cuts will likely spread across the roster. In the first round of cuts this week, the Ravens released three offensive linemen, a kicker and defensive lineman. The Ravens then signed veteran offensive lineman Parker Ehinger after veteran Andre Smith opted out for the year. The Ravens and teams around the NFL are waiting to see if any additional players opt out, which could alter how they plan to get the roster down to 80 players. Players have to decide by next week if they're opting out (the exact date for that decision will depend on when the NFL and NFLPA actually sign the ratified collective bargaining agreement).

Mink: I'm debating this myself because I drafted Mark Ingram II in a keeper league last year … and Lamar Jackson, and Mark Andrews, so yes I won the league. OK, I'll now stop bragging now. I still expect Ingram to be the Ravens' workhorse back. Everybody else – Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and rookie second-round pick J.K. Dobbins – is competing for the No. 2 job.

I don't see any reason why Ingram can't top 1,000 rushing yards again and still be a factor in the passing game. He had 15 total touchdowns last year and could reach that or close to it again. Dobbins has the talent to eat into Ingram's workload, but probably not much until later in the season if at all.

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