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Ravens Came Close To Signing Some Running Backs


The Ravens have said since the end of the 2013 season that they want to add to their backfield.

The team already signed Justin Forsett in free agency, and General Manager Ozzie Newsome said yesterday that they have come close to getting other free agent running backs.

"We've been in on some backs," Newsome said at the pre-draft press conference. "We haven't been able to actually get one yet, but we've been in on some pretty good backs."

Newsome didn't specify which backs the Ravens made an effort to sign, but some starting-caliber running backs have hit the market this offseason. Chris Johnson (New York Jets), Ben Tate (Cleveland Browns) and LeGarrette Blount (Pittsburgh Steelers) all signed two-year deals with their respective clubs.

Other free agent running backs included Darren McFadden, Knowshon Moreno and Maurice-Jones Drew, but they are all off the market now.

With the market mostly picked clean of running backs, the Ravens will turn to the draft to bolster the unit.

"It's important to add a running back," Head Coach John Harbaugh said, before rattling off several other positions he would also like to address.

The need to add to the backfield became more pressing this offseason after Ray Rice was arrested on an aggravated assault charge stemming from an altercation with his then fiancée at an Atlanta City casino. Rice was offered a plea deal from prosecutors Thursday that would allow him to avoid any jail time through a diversionary program, but he could still face punishment from the Ravens or the NFL.

It's unknown how long of a suspension Rice could face.

The desire to add to the backfield, however, is independent of Rice's incident and his status will not impact the Ravens' draft strategy.

"In talking with John all the way back to when we went to Jupiter [Fla.] to spend time with Steve [Bisciotti], we've been talking about adding one, maybe two running backs to our team," Newsome said. "And this was before the incident that happened in Atlantic City. We felt like we needed to add some depth at that position coming out of the 2013 season."

The Ravens have a chance to get a quality running back at some point during the draft, as the value of ball carriers has diminished throughout the pass-driven league. No running back was taken in the first round last year, and that could be the case again this year.

The best running backs in the class may not come off the board until mid-to-late in the second round, and the Ravens could nab an elite player in the middle rounds of the draft.

"I think at that position you have some good players," Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta said. "The draft is such at that position where you can get a guy in any round – second through seventh – that can help you play some good football."

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