The Baltimore Ravens made a handful of roster moves today, bringing their roster down to 85 players ahead of Tuesday’s cut deadline.
The Ravens waived cornerback Davontae Harris, outside linebacker Aaron Adeoye and tight end Eli Wolf and placed cornerbacks Iman Marshall and Khalil Dorsey on injured reserved, per the team’s Twitter account.
The Ravens also signed quarterback Kenji Bahar, who played for Calvert Hall High School in Maryland before he went to Monmouth University.
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Ravens Form Cornerback Room
Harris, Marshall and Dorsey all appeared in a handful of games for the Ravens over the past two years, but only when the Ravens’ other cornerbacks were injured. With an influx of talented competition, the team did not need them on the roster.
Even with veteran Jimmy Smith out, the Ravens’ cornerbacks are among the best in the league, with All-Pros Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters starting on the outside and Tavon Young in the slot. Anthony Averett has consistently stepped up when the starters are injured, though he does not project as much more than a reliable backup.
General manager Eric DeCosta strengthened the team’s cornerback depth this offseason, adding multiple high-upside players to an already elite group.
The Ravens drafted Brandon Stephens out of SMU in the third round and Ohio State’s Shaun Wade in the fifth. They also signed undrafted free agent Ar’Darius Washington as well as 2019 UDFA Chris Westry.
Wade was one of the best nickel corners in college football during his career as a Buckeye, but struggled on the outside in 2020. On Saturday’s win against the Saints, Wade played well on the outside, even making a spectacular recovery to snag a game-sealing interception.
Observers have praised Chris Westry’s physical outside cornerback play in training camp, which he followed up with a solid performance against New Orleans, featuring a pass breakup that led to safety Geno Stone‘s second interception of the night.
Westry did draw a taunting penalty, but head coach John Harbaugh said he regarded the flag as a teachable moment, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. The Kentucky product is a strong candidate to make the final roster.
While Ar’Darius Washington and Brandon Stephens will primarily play safety in Baltimore, they have the experience and versatility to play cornerback in a pinch.
With better cornerbacks on the roster, the Ravens had no reason to keep Harris, Dorsey and Marshall.
Aaron Adeoye was cut for similar reasons, as there are seven outside linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart.
Injuries Impact Cuts on Offense
The Ravens’ injuries have mostly been concentrated on the offensive side of the ball, with multiple offensive linemen and receivers injured. Just today, Harbaugh announced that rookie guard Ben Cleveland is out with a concussion.
As a result, the Ravens didn’t cut anyone from the offensive line or wide receiving corps, as they expect to need depth at those positions at least for the rest of the preseason.
The only offensive player they cut is a tight end: Eli Wolf, who was on the practice squad last season. While Nick Boyle is still recovering from clean-up surgery for last year’s season-ending knee injury, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, the team has plenty of depth behind star Mark Andrews.
Veteran Eric Tomlinson stepped up as a blocker in Boyle’s absence last season, but struggled to make an impact in the passing game. If Boyle is out into the regular season, the Ravens’ ground-heavy offense may keep him on the roster.
The Ravens also added young tight end depth this offseason, acquiring former third-round pick Josh Oliver from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a conditional 2020 seventh round draft pick, which vests if Oliver makes the roster, per Zrebiec. They also drafted Michigan’s Ben Mason in the fifth round and signed UDFA Tony Poljan out of the University of Virginia.
Oliver has made a strong case for his inclusion on the roster so far this preseason, showing off his speed and receiving ability. He played well against the Saints, catching four passes for 22 yards and proving that he can block well enough to support the Ravens’ rushing attack.
Ben Mason, who primarily played fullback as a Wolverine, was a somewhat unexpected pick given that the Ravens already have one of the NFL’s best fullbacks in Patrick Ricard. But Mason’s versatility to block, play tight end and catch passes out of the backfield could help him stick around, especially if he continues to contribute on special teams, like he did against the Saints.
Tony Poljan is a long shot to make the roster, but still projects as a better tight end prospect than Eli Wolf, so the UVA product will stick around at least for another week.
The Ravens’ first round of cuts were neither difficult nor especially surprising, but the competition will heat up for players on the roster bubble going into Saturday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.