On Tuesday, the Baltimore Ravens kicked off their first day of mandatory mini-camp at Owings Mills just a day after the team announced the signing of new wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The feeling and morale of practice was definitely a lot better for the team and the fans with Maclin's acquisition. Especially coming off the back-to-back days the team had just a few weeks ago when they lost both Tavon Young and Dennis Pitta in OTA's. Just a week ago, the Ravens bid farewell to Pitta, releasing him and saving $2.5 million in cap space. Not only did the team release Pitta last week, they were also talking to another tight end on the roster. One that was also coming off a season that ended prematurely due to injury.
Benjamin Watson was signed last year to a 2-year contract worth $7 million, with $3 million guaranteed until 2018. He tore his Achilles on the first offensive snap of the third preseason game against the Detroit Lions, and with him being 36-years old while coming off that type of injury and his contract, his 2017 season with the Ravens in doubt. Expectations were that he was going to be released this offseason along with the likes of Elvis Dumervil, Shareece Wright and others. As it turns out that wasn't the case as the team and Watson agreed to restructure his contract last week off the heels of Pitta's release.
Benjamin Watson recently agreed to drop his 2017 salary from $3M to $1.25M; he can get back to $3M via incentives https://t.co/6q3LNN3Vic— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) June 13, 2017
The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec took to Twitter to give his take on Watson’s new deal coming off his return to the practice field on Tuesday.
Assuming he's healthy and today was a good step, this makes it likely that Watson will be on team's roster to start season. https://t.co/yyKzuAWTID— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiecsun) June 13, 2017
While Watson did practice today, he was mostly doing individual drills, according to Zrebiec. Watson's new deal cuts his base salary to $1.25 million with $750,000 guaranteed, and Baltimore earns $1.75 million in cap space due to the restructure. However, he can earn $3 million in incentives if he produces this season.
The Ravens are going to need Watson to perform with Pitta's injury and subsequent release, along with Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams also missing practice with injuries. With Baltimore's tight ends once again hit with the injury bug, the 36-year old former 2004 first round pick coming off a serious injury of his own is going to have to step up more than he was supposed to a year ago before the Achillies. It's a risk, but it could have a high reward if Watson stays healthy and continues his reportedly good chemistry he was forming with Joe Flacco during training camp last year.