Ravens add veteran Mike Davis to running back mix, subtract Ty’Son Williams


(Updated: 5:15 p.m.)

With top running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards still working their way back from knee injuries that cost them the entire 2021 season, the Ravens have added some veteran insurance for their young backfield.

On Tuesday, Baltimore announced a one-year deal with 29-year-old running back Mike Davis, who rushed for 503 yards and scored four touchdowns in his lone season with Atlanta last year. The Falcons cut Davis last week, and the Ravens certainly didn’t want a repeat of last season in which general manager Eric DeCosta had to sign veterans Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Le’Veon Bell in early September after Dobbins, Edwards, and No. 3 back Justice Hill suffered season-ending injuries. With that trio of backs unlikely to see much action — if any — during spring practices, Davis should receive plenty of reps to try to force his way into the regular-season conversation.

A 2015 fourth-round pick out of South Carolina, Davis has bounced around the NFL and rushed for a career-high 642 yards in place of an injured Christian McCaffrey for Carolina in 2020. That success prompted a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Falcons last offseason, but the 5-foot-9, 220-pound Davis averaged just 3.6 yards per carry for his hometown team, prompting his release after the draft. Pro Football Focus graded him 60th out of 62 qualified running backs last season.

In 79 career games with Atlanta, Carolina, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco, Davis has rushed for 2,034 yards and 14 touchdowns at 3.7 yards per carry and caught 169 passes for 1,062 yards and four touchdowns. Assuming Dobbins and Edwards are fully healthy by the end of the preseason, Davis would hardly be a lock to make the 53-man roster with the Ravens also having Hill, Nate McCrary, and rookie sixth-round pick Tyler Badie in their running back picture.

In addition to signing Davis, Baltimore withdrew its exclusive-rights tender for running back Ty’Son Williams, making him a free agent. Williams, 25, started the first three games of the 2021 season and rushed for 185 yards and a touchdown while averaging 5.3 yards per carry, but it was evident that he fell out of favor with the coaching staff, resulting in him playing very little over the second half of the season.

“Every player just has to contribute and perform and produce when they’re out there, and that goes for any player,” said head coach John Harbaugh when asked about Williams in mid-November. “If you’re a running back, you need to run hard, you need to break tackles, you need to get yards, you need to pass protect, you need to run the right route out of the backfield, catch the ball and get up [the] field. If you’re in the rotation, special teams sure would help you. Get out there and run down kicks, get on the punt team, get on the punt return team because that’s how you got on there when you’re the third back in that case.

“I’m not talking about one player. It’s anybody in that spot, or it’s anybody at any position. You’ve got to produce.”