Two days after the Ravens released their initial 53-man roster, Head Coach John Harbaugh shed some light on some of the tougher decisions in his first Monday afternoon press conference of the regular season.
Keeping Three Quarterbacks
By keeping Robert Griffin III, the Ravens will break tradition by having three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster for the first time since 2009.
After a year out of the league, the former No. 2-overall pick and 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year proved this offseason with his play on the field and work/demeanor off it that he's ready to make a comeback.
Head Coach John Harbaugh did not want to say whether Griffin or rookie first-round pick Lamar Jackson is Joe Flacco's primary backup, nor whether two or all three quarterbacks will be active on gamedays. However, it's clear that Griffin helps make the Ravens a better team.
"I'm excited to have three quality quarterbacks," Harbaugh said. "It makes our quarterback room stronger. From a team stand point, you can look at it any kind of a number of different ways. There are a lot of factors that go into it that were considered, and that was the way it shook out."
Harbaugh Happy for Perriman to Get a Fresh Start
The Ravens had never released a first-round pick before their rookie contract expired until they parted ways with wide receiver Breshad Perriman.
Perriman struggled with injuries and inconsistency throughout his three seasons in Baltimore. He kept working through it, and had his first healthy (and best) offseason this summer, but didn't do enough to make the final roster. His Ravens tenure ended with 43 catches for 576 yards and three touchdowns.
Not surprisingly, other teams are checking Perriman out to see if the talented 6-foot-2 speedster can turn his career around for them. Perriman reportedly worked out for the New York Jets Monday and has two more visits set up, including with the Ravens' Week 1 opponent.
It looks like Perriman will get a much-needed change of scenery. "To me that's the thing that I think he's excited about, and I'm excited about for him. You get a chance to get a fresh start, a healthy start," Harbaugh said.
"He had his best camp because he was in camp and played well, very productive in the games and in practice. I'm hopeful for him. I want to see him do well. You become friends with these guys and I want to see them be successful."
Davis Was in High Demand After Ravens Release
No player released Saturday had more interest from around the league than Ravens defensive tackle Carl Davis. According to ESPN's Field Yates, four teams submitted waiver claims for Davis and the Cleveland Browns won.
A 2015 third-round pick who started nine games last season, Davis was beaten out by some younger defensive linemen, including second-year defensive end Chris Wormley and rookie seventh-round defensive tackle Zach Sieler.
Patrick Ricard's improvement as a defender (he mostly played fullback last year) also made Davis more expendable. The Ravens kept seven defensive linemen, including Ricard, and Davis was a more expensive option as he was in his fourth year of his contract.
"It was just a numbers deal," Harbaugh said. "Carl's definitely good enough to play for us. I talked to Carl – we had a great talk. He's really good about it. He loved it here, he had his best camp – you know he's been hurt the past two years."
It's not the first time the Browns have swooped in on a released Ravens defensive lineman. For example, Jamie Meder got his start with the Ravens as an undrafted rookie in 2014. After his release later that season, he spent the past four years in Cleveland and started 15 games in 2016.
"I'm not thrilled that he's in Cleveland and we have to play against him twice a year," Harbaugh said of Davis. "But kudos to Cleveland. They've taken a number of our D-linemen."
Harbaugh Happy to Still Have Grant and White
The Ravens chose to keep undrafted rookie Janarion Grant on the 53-man roster instead of second-year wide receiver/return specialist Tim White, but it clearly wasn't an easy call and could change.
Harbaugh said the Ravens just did "what you think is best at the time." Even though neither returner had a breakout preseason game and each fumbled once, Grant looked a little more dynamic on punt returns this preseason.
Harbaugh said the biggest takeaway is that the Ravens still have both players, as White was added to Baltimore’s practice squad after his release.
"They're both right there," Harbaugh said. "I love them both, they both bring a lot to the table, they both have upside. It's going to be fun to see how they both develop, and I'm just glad they're both here."
Harbaugh added that Grant or wide receiver Chris Moore could be the Ravens' kick returner. Grant will be the punt returner and veteran Willie Snead IV will be the backup punt returner, Harbaugh said.
Releasing McClellan Was Tough As Ravens Usher in Youth
Veteran linebacker Albert McClellan was one of the Ravens' most respected team leaders for a long time. He's one of the franchise's best special teams players ever.
Thus, releasing the 32-year-old veteran was perhaps the most emotionally tough decision. McClellan, who first came to the Ravens as an undrafted rookie in 2011, missed last season because of a torn ACL and was beat out by undrafted rookie linebacker Chris Board this summer.
"Oh gosh … I think you mentioned [about] how tough it must be, and it was," Harbaugh said to a reporter. "But then Albert made it good. Albert was great.
"We've been through a lot together, all of us with Albert and the coaches and everything. [There] doesn't need to be a lot said – it's understood the reasons why. There's no doubt that he can still play."
Harbaugh didn't rule out the possibility of McClellan returning to the Ravens down the road this season, and said, "I'm sure he'll be playing somewhere this year."
The Ravens kept 12 rookies on their 53-man roster, which ushers in a new wave of youth. Harbaugh told them in a team meeting Monday to not get too happy.
"I told them today, 'You're not on scholarship.' You didn't just sign the scholarship papers – that's not the way it works," Harbaugh said. "You're day-to-day, and you have to perform every single day. So my hope is that their intention is to be the best football player they can be every single day and help us win games on Sundays. That's why they're here."