It's only been a few days into training camp and the Baltimore Ravens are already off to a rocky start with injuries, Colin Kaepernick speculation, and the offense not looking so good. In terms of needs, the Ravens still haven't addressed the right tackle spot that has been vacated by the absence of Rick Wagner, who departed for the Detroit Lions in the offseason. While he wasn't in the running for the job, it still doesn't help the depth on the offensive line now that John Urschel announced his retirement.
On the free agent market, released players like King Dunlap retired, and Orlando Franklin just signed a new deal with the New Orleans Saints a few days ago. On Friday morning, the Oakland Raiders released right tackle Austin Howard, just three years after signing him to a 5-year, $30 million deal. Howard played the entire 2014 season for the Raiders, but injuries would play a factor the next two seasons as he was placed on injured reserve in December of 2015 missing the final three games, and missing five games in 2016 with an ankle injury and shoulder problems.
With Howard on the market, and Baltimore in need of offensive line help, the Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston reported on Friday night that the Ravens are indeed taking a look at the former Raider.
Ravens looking at former Oakland Raiders right offensive tackle Austin Howard. He is big, physical player.— Mike Preston (@MikePrestonSun) July 29, 2017
Howard does have a past with the Ravens, as he was on their practice squad for the 2011 season, but was signed off the teams practice squad by the New York Jets in November of that year. It was with Rex Ryan and the Jets that Howard made a name for himself as a quality starter. Ryan benched then right tackle Wayne Hunter for Howard in 2012, and he held on to the job for two seasons in New York. Even playing under Marty Mornhinweg in 2013, who was the offensive coordinator at the time.
Howard stands at 6ft, 7in, and weighs 330 lbs, but he has struggled over the last two seasons, and is coming off surgery for a torn labrum/rotator cuff back in January. Despite this, he is still a serviceable offensive lineman and is a very good teammate in the locker room. He can also add quality competition to the right tackle position and even win the job.
With the Ravens having very little money remaining and rumors of a possible interest in Kaepernick, it really is about spending that money wisely. This was something Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com brought up on Friday.
One big piece people seem to be missing with Kaepernick is the $$$. Ravens have 1 move left in free agency. Is he that move?— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) July 28, 2017
He's right. If the Ravens and Joe Flacco himself believe he will be back from his injury soon, then you must spend that money on something more pressing. Especially if they only have one free agent move left, it's better to spend it on someone like Austin Howard at the right tackle position on the offensive line. If the team wants their offense to produce and keep their quarterback upright, the offensive line has to be addressed soon.