Baltimore Ravens roster building: The running backs edition
The construction of the Ravens backfield rotation:
The Ravens paid a running back, but they did it in a way that made sense. They signed a veteran player who they could easily project into their offense. Eric DeCosta and company knew what they were getting. They knew Ingram had less wear and tear than a typical star running back of his age. They had a price they were willing to pay and they stayed within that backfield budget. The rule shouldn’t simply be that you don’t pay running backs much, because you have to invest in a position group that touches the ball hundreds of times a season. The rule should be amended to say that you set a running back budget and you don’t go over it. The rule should be that you spend your money wisely here and make it count.
Remember when we thought the Ravens may be in on Le’Veon Bell? Here’s the difference between signing Bell and signing Ingram. Bell is the top salary cap hit for the New York Jets and he takes up almost eight percent of their salary cap for 2020. Ingram is the ninth highest salary cap hit for the Ravens and takes up just 2.69 percent of the Ravens cap space. Eric DeCosta is being hailed as one of the best general managers in football while Mike Maccagnan is out of his job with the Jets. One can justify spending three to four percent of the cap on a Pro Bowl running back. One can’t pay a running back like a pass rusher or a left tackle and get away without negative ramifications.
The rest of the running backs are all relatively cheap and young. The Ravens just drafted J.K. Dobbins. While Dobbins wasn’t needed you can see the team building philosophy at work. The Ravens are getting ready for when they have to move on from Ingram. It’s not something a fan wants to think about, yet Eric DeCosta is going to have start thinking about that decision at some point in the next year. Dobbins will help the team now but he should be the future at the position. This wasn’t a shot in the dark on day three of the draft. This was a second round selection for a prospect who arguably had round one talent.
While Gus Edwards has picked up over 700 yards on the ground in two consecutive seasons, he’s just a nice piece of the running back rotation. He’s talented enough to be a number one back and the Ravens got him as an undrafted free agent from Rutgers. Justice Hill was a fourth round pick. The Ravens have four running backs and they have a reason to keep and utilize each one of them. The Ravens are spending less on their running backs than a lot of teams are and they just broke the single season rushing record as a team. While no other team has Lamar Jackson, this model at running back is something you can replicate with good scouting and the right veteran running back at the right price.