With the Ravens always expected to go in a different direction to address their offensive tackle depth, veteran D.J. Fluker agreed to a deal with the Miami Dolphins on Monday evening.
The 2013 first-round pick from Alabama signed with Baltimore after last year’s draft and entered training camp as the early favorite to start at right guard before settling into the reserve swing tackle role to begin the regular season. However, the season-ending ankle injury to star left tackle Ronnie Stanley in Week 8 pushed Fluker into the starting lineup as right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. moved to the left side.
The 6-foot-5, 342-pound Fluker started eight games and played 531 snaps in the regular season with Pro Football Focus grading him 55th out of 79 qualified offensive tackles. The 30-year-old worked in a platoon with rookie Tyre Phillips down the stretch with the latter starting both postseason games.
Fluker joined the Dolphins on the same day reports surfaced of the Ravens planning to meet with free-agent offensive tackle Alejandro Villaneuva. Speaking during the team’s pre-draft press conference, general manager Eric DeCosta wouldn’t confirm whether the organization would meet with the former Pittsburgh Steeler later this week.
“There are always a lot of moving parts in any offseason,” DeCosta said. “We’re just getting ready for the draft, and we’re basically just approaching this as how can we build the best possible team to play in September. I’m also not going to comment on any reports of players visiting or not visiting Baltimore. Again, it doesn’t really benefit us to talk about those kinds of things, especially this time of year, so I’ll just leave that question alone.”
Offensive tackle remains a substantial question with Stanley coming back from two ankle surgeries and Brown having already asked to be traded to a team that will play him at left tackle. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Brown is entering the final year of his rookie contract, meaning the Ravens would benefit from adding another viable option at offensive tackle even if a trade doesn’t materialize before the start of the 2021 campaign.
DeCosta indicated Baltimore’s draft plans wouldn’t be much different either way with this class of offensive tackles highly regarded.
“When you play the type of football that we play, offensive line is always going to be a priority for us,” DeCosta said. “We want to build the best offensive line we can in the short term, in the long term, looking out, making sure that we have adequate depth at every single spot. It doesn’t change our thinking very much. If there’s a really good player there, we’re going to pick him.”