What does Ben Mason’s return mean for Patrick Ricard’s Ravens future?

Ravens, Patrick Ricard (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Ravens, Patrick Ricard (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens will have to determine the future of a number of key pending free agents this offseason, one of which is longtime fan-favorite fullback Patrick Ricard.

Ricard feels like one of those players that should be a forever Raven, but it’s not even a guarantee that he’s brought back next season. That notion was perhaps strengthened when the team made the decision to bring back Ben Mason last month.

Mason was drafted in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Ravens, partially as insurance for Ricard. But the former Michigan standout failed to make the team out of training camp and chose to sign with the New England Patriots practice squad.

Now, Mason is back in Baltimore with Ricard’s future up in the air again. Could that be a sign of things to come?

Does Ben Mason’s return signal the end of Patrick Ricard’s time with the Ravens?

Ricard has been a staple of the Ravens team for the past few years. A former defensive lineman, Ricard captured hearts as a pseudo-two-way player becoming known affectionately as “Project Pat.”

He needs no introduction, but with the 27-year-old’s contract set to expire, there have been some doubts about whether or not the Ravens would be able to keep him.

The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec recently reported that there was “a sizable gap between Ricard and the Ravens” and that gap seemingly hasn’t closed in the following weeks.

With limited cap space, the Ravens will have to be very selective with their money this offseason. Ricard is a valued member of the offense, but the Ravens might not have the luxury of spending decent money on a fullback.

Especially not when they have a younger, cheaper alternative they drafted to be his potential replacement on their roster.

Mason failed to stand out in training camp last offseason as Ricard’s quicker-than-expected rehab period overshadowed the younger fullback. He was unable to stick with either the Patriots or Chicago Bears during the season either.

In all likelihood, the decision to re-sign Mason doesn’t necessarily mean that Ricard won’t be back. But it could be a sign that extension talks haven’t gone especially well.

The Ravens are hedging their bets, just as they did when they initially drafted Mason. He’s there as insurance in the scenario they can’t re-sign Ricard.

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I wouldn’t take it as a direct sign, but it could be an indicator. The Ravens want insurance — Ben Mason offers them that.