The Ravens officially retained a depth piece along their defensive line on Friday by announcing the re-signing of veteran Justin Ellis.
The 30-year-old nose tackle appeared in 13 games and played 358 defensive snaps in the 2020 regular season, seeing his most extensive action when starting defensive linemen Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell were both sidelined with injuries in November and early December. Ellis made 17 tackles in the regular season and added another in the playoff win at Tennessee, but he was a healthy scratch in the loss to Buffalo in the divisional round. Pro Football Focus graded Ellis 111th out of 126 qualified interior defenders last season.
A 2014 fourth-round pick for Oakland, Ellis has appeared in 83 games in his NFL career. He joined the Ravens in November of the 2019 season and appeared in fives games including the postseason before signing a one-year deal last offseason.
The reported $1.2 million deal including $400,000 guaranteed for Ellis comes at a time when many are wondering about Williams’ future. The longtime nose tackle who’s been with the Ravens since 2013 is entering the final year of his contract and scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2021. Williams carries a $14.42 million salary cap number, but releasing him would leave $6.92 million in dead money and a major hole in the middle of the defensive line for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Ravens entered Friday with just over $18 million in cap space based on an assumed salary cap of $180.5 million for the 2021 campaign.
Ellis wasn’t the only pending free agent from last year’s defensive line rotation as Derek Wolfe is still scheduled to hit the market later this month. Wolfe, 31, led all Ravens defensive linemen in snaps last season.