A former undrafted free agent, it’s hard to imagine Ricard playing anywhere else given how well he fits what the Ravens do. However, as we approach the start of free agency, there appears to be a significant disconnect when it comes to how each side views his worth.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec reported on Monday that the “early buzz” is that Ricard is looking for “solid tight end value,” and doesn’t want to just be the highest-paid fullback in the NFL.
The Ravens, given their tricky cap situation, are unlikely to pay him what he wants. Either a compromise has to be in order, or, more likely, Ricard will walk in free agency.
The Ravens might not be able to re-sign Patrick Ricard
Ricard has developed into one of the best fullbacks in the NFL and one of the more invaluable players on the Ravens’ roster. The 27-year-old has been named to three consecutive Pro Bowls playing a crucial role in the team’s recent rushing success.
Ricard is a bit of a chess piece on offense. He’ll line up at fullback, H-back, tight end, and really wherever the Ravens need him. When Nick Boyle was sidelined, the Ravens used Ricard a lot more as a blocking tight end.
Perhaps that lends some credence to his belief that he deserves tight-end money.
The highest-paid fullback currently in the NFL is Kyle Juszczyk of the San Francisco 49ers who signed a five-year, $27 million contract prior to the start of the 2021 season.
That contract gives him an average annual salary of $5.4 million. Ricard, who made a little under $4 million last season, is clearly looking for a significant pay raise.
If Ricard wants to be paid more like a top-end blocking tight end, we could compare his contract to Nick Boyle’s or even the recently re-signed Ian Thomas.
Boyle’s two-year, $13 million contract sees him earn $6.5 million per season which might be closer to what Ricard is looking for. As for Thomas, the Carolina Panthers’ tight end was just re-signed to a three-year, $16.5 million contract earning him $5.5 million per year.
Given what Zrebiec said, we could assume Ricard is looking for a contact much closer to Boyle’s than Thomas’. Would the Ravens go that high, or even higher? It seems unlikely.
The Ravens obviously want to keep Patrick Ricard, but if he’s set on a certain price tag (a price tag that some team likely will meet), it’s hard to imagine the two sides get a deal done.