‘If only the Ravens stayed healthy, they would have reached their potential’ has seemingly become an annual refrain in Baltimore. Unfortunately injuries are unavoidable in a combat sport. While it is debatable whether the Ravens should have been able to overcome their injuries in 2017, the team can improve their odds of staying healthy in 2018 by moving on from their most injury prone players.
Once is a chance, twice is a coincidence, thrice is a pattern.
The Ravens have several players who fall under the pattern category. Scatback Danny Woodhead, who will turn 33 in a couple weeks, was unavailable for half the season due to injury after missing 27 games between 2014 and 2016. Receiver Jeremy Maclin was inactive for four games in 2017, and has played a full 16 game schedule just twice in his eight year career.
Return man Michael Campanaro has proven fragile, missing an average of ten games per season since 2014. Tight end Crockett Gillmore, another free agent to be, has been unavailable for 31 games over the last three seasons. Former first round pick Breshad Perriman has also missed significant time during his three year career with a PCL, ACL, hamstring and variety of other ailments.
On defense, impending unrestricted free agent end Brent Urban managed to suit up for less than 40-percent of the regular season games that were played while he was signed to his 4-year rookie contract. Veteran defensive back Lardarius Webb has overcome a pair of serious knee injuries and a back issue, but his physical ability has diminished to the point where younger players have passed him on the depth chart.
With the exception of Maclin, the potential salary cap savings from moving past these seven players would be relatively minimal. Yet when viewed together, the cap relief would allow the Ravens to sign more dependable personnel or cultivate a healthier future salary cap situation.
Past performance is the best indication of future results. Considering the Ravens annual injury troubles, continuing to rely on chronically hurt players would be irresponsible.