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Ravens add veteran running back Melvin Gordon, continue mulling options at edge rusher

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As J.K. Dobbins remains a hot topic of conversation entering training camp, the Ravens have added a former two-time Pro Bowl selection to their backfield picture.

On Friday, Baltimore agreed in principle to a one-year deal with former Los Angeles Chargers and Denver running back Melvin Gordon on a one-year deal, pending a physical. According to ESPN, the deal is worth “up to” $3.1 million, which likely means the combination of incentives and a lower base salary for 2023. The 30-year-old finished last season on Kansas City’s practice squad after being released by the Broncos in November, but he didn’t appear in a game for the Super Bowl champion Chiefs.

A 2015 first-round pick out of Wisconsin, Gordon has eclipsed 850 rushing yards in five of his eight NFL seasons, but he ran for just 3.5 yards per carry last season, his lowest average since his rookie season. Ball security was also a major concern as Gordon fumbled five times in just 115 touches, a problem that prompted Denver to waive him. For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus graded him 60th out of 60 qualified running backs last season.

While many fans and pundits were quick to speculate about Gordon’s signing being related to Dobbins’ status and desire for a new contract, the Ravens adding another veteran back to the mix shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Even if Dobbins plans to participate fully at the start of training camp, he and No. 2 running back Gus Edwards have missed a combined 51 games over the last two years after both suffered significant knee injuries days before the start of the 2021 season. While Dobbins not taking part in mandatory minicamp garnered more attention, it’s also worth noting that Edwards was very limited throughout spring workouts with head coach John Harbaugh saying he was “supposed to be fully ready” for training camp without offering any specifics about his health or whether concerns linger about his surgically-repaired knee.

For what it’s worth, Dobbins was placed on the active physically unable to perform list ahead of the start of training camp on Friday while Edwards was not among the players receiving that designation.

Baltimore also has veteran Justice Hill as well as undrafted rookies Keaton Mitchell and Owen Wright on its 90-man roster, but adding a sixth running back to the mix is hardly unusual for training camp. Though the proof will be in the details of the contract, Gordon could be guaranteed little more than a chance to compete for a spot this summer, especially considering the way last season played out for him. At the very least, bringing in an accomplished running back aiming to rejuvenate his career should ramp up the preseason competition among the roster hopefuls.

Edge rusher options

Just a couple days after it was reported that Dawuane Smoot would visit the Ravens early next week, the veteran edge rusher has instead agreed to re-sign with Jacksonville.

Still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon sustained last December, the 28-year-old has collected five or more sacks in each of the last four seasons and was an attractive option for Baltimore’s defense. His agent, David Canter, announced Smoot was remaining with the Jaguars, the team that selected him in the third round of the 2017 draft out of Illinois.

With Smoot no longer in play, general manager Eric DeCosta continues to search for established help at outside linebacker with veteran Kyle Van Noy scheduled to visit with the Ravens, according to ESPN. The 32-year-old has registered at least five sacks in five of the last six seasons and is regarded as a versatile player who can drop into coverage and play the run effectively, a profile similar to veteran strong-side outside linebacker Tyus Bowser.

Veteran pass rusher Justin Houston remains unsigned, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll return for a 13th NFL season or if he’d play a third straight year with the Ravens.

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