5 Baltimore Ravens Who Will Be on the Roster Bubble in 2014
The head honchos of the Baltimore Ravens will be meeting over the next few weeks to formulate a plan of action for the offseason. Much of that discussion will deal with how to acquire new talent that can step right in and contribute. There is, however, the other side of the coin. To make room for those new players, some current Ravens will have to be released or traded. Here are some of those players.
These five players are all currently on the books for next season. This slideshow doesn't deal with players who are free agents and may not be re-signed. Instead, these are Ravens who may fall victim to the numbers game and be cut because of their lack of a role in the depth chart or a salary that doesn't match up with their production.
It's the unfortunate aspect of any business, but it all comes down to the bottom line. Some, like Vonta Leach, have been through this process before. For others, it will be a harsh new reality.
OT/OG Jah Reid
Jah Reid is a versatile "swing" lineman with the ability to play either tackle or guard. The Ravens traditionally like that kind of versatility on the offensive line, but it might not be enough to keep Reid on the roster.
Last offseason, the final roster spot for offensive linemen came down to Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood. Baltimore had seen enough from Reid to keep him around, since the 2011 draft pick started seven games in 2012 before a toe injury ended his season.
Despite his experience as a starter, Reid never got a chance to consistently see the field in 2013 despite a couple of injuries along the O-line throughout the season.
First, Michael Oher missed the second half of Week 1 against the Denver Broncos, but he was replaced by rookie tackle Rick Wagner.
Reid was overlooked again when Kelechi Osemele's year ended due to back surgery. Instead, Baltimore turned to A.Q. Shipley to fill the void.
Shipley was put in a tough spot, since his natural position is center, and he didn't play very well—according to Pro Football Focus, Shipley was the 15th-worst guard in the league last year (subscription required).
Regardless of his performance, the coaches never put Reid in the starting lineup, and he finished the year with only 23 snaps of action.
There were two chances for Reid to get into the lineup, but the coaches didn't have enough confidence in him to give him a shot. With the Ravens probably looking to draft offensive line help in the draft and the versatility of players already on the roster, it may not be worth a roster spot to keep Reid around.
It all depends on how many new linemen are brought in during the offseason, but Reid may be on his way out of Baltimore.
WR Deonte Thompson
Deonte Thompson was a favorite to earn significant reps over the course of the 2013 season, but that never really happened.
The entire receiving corps was a revolving door, and Thompson ended up playing in just six games last year. Part of that was due to injury, but he was the odd man out of the receiver rotation at the end of the year when all the receivers were healthy.
Many expect the Ravens to acquire some wide receiver help this offseason through free agency or the draft, and that could push Thompson even further down the depth chart.
His fate will probably be tied to where Jacoby Jones—an unrestricted free agent—ends up. If Jones signs with another team, Thompson will likely stay in Baltimore for depth purposes and as an option in the return game.
If Jones stays in Baltimore, Thompson wouldn't be needed for depth purposes, so he may be let go.
FB Vonta Leach
Vonta Leach was a salary-cap casualty last season, and he may undergo the same fate this year. He brings so much to the table in terms of toughness and leadership, but his workload dropped precipitously, and he barely saw the field by the end of the year (12 total snaps in the last three games).
If the Ravens continue to use a spread offense with three receivers on the field, Leach's opportunities to get on the gridiron may be very limited. In that case, he's not worth the roster spot, so he'd probably be released to free up some cap room.
QB Tyrod Taylor
The Ravens never had to think about life without Joe Flacco because the Delaware product is an iron man at the quarterback position. He's never missed a professional start and had never dealt with any kind of noticeable injury until this year.
Flacco took a ton of hits in 2013, and it showed by Week 17. He ended the season with a sprained MCL and had to peel himself off the turf on numerous occasions.
Fortunately, he never missed a snap, but the punishment forced Baltimore to think about what it would look like if Flacco did have to miss a game or three.
If we're being honest, it would be much closer to the Green Bay Packers—and that's a problem. Obviously, any team losing its starting quarterback is going to suffer. But having a reliable backup option who can keep a team competitive can be the difference in making the playoffs and watching them from home.
Is Tyrod Taylor really a solid backup option?
He's an excellent change of pace, but could he lead the Ravens for two full games with Joe Flacco on the sidelines?
Probably not. If the Ravens agree, they may be inclined to release Taylor and acquire a more suitable relief option.
P Sam Koch
Sam Koch has been a great punter for the Ravens, but he may not be worth the $2.8 million cap hit for 2014. Baltimore has limited salary-cap space to sign free agents and their draft picks, so general manager Ozzie Newsome will need to be as ruthless as possible when it comes to trimming the fat off the team's roster.
Koch's play has been solid and doesn't deserve a release, but his contract might. For that reason, he's on the roster bubble for 2014.