Last week Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe was being mentioned as a likely trade candidate — a player who could generate interest from “many teams,” assuming he’s healthy enough to play and play at a high level. But the latest news from Wolfe seems to call his football future into serious doubt.
As noted by Jamison Hensley, who covers the Ravens for ESPN, Wolfe took to Instagram on Monday afternoon to announce that he has had another surgery — his second hip surgery this year.
“We’re going to try to get a full recovery here and try to live a normal life,” Wolfe said.
It was only three months ago that Wolfe indicated that he planned to play this season, despite having missed the entire 2021 campaign in the wake of hip and back injuries that led to a January 2022 hip surgery — a procedure that Wolfe described as a “success.”
A May 25 tweet that purportedly showed him carrying a 300-pound black bear on his back during a hunting trip in Wyoming, seemed to indicate that his rehabilitation was going smoothly.
The Ravens Are Positioned to Move Forward Without Wolfe
On the other hand, the Ravens have been making moves that could be perceived as a lack of confidence in Wolfe’s ability to return. In May, the team re-acquired defensive end Brent Urban — a fourth-round pick of the Ravens in 2014 — who inked a one-year deal after spending last season with the Dallas Cowboys.
There have also been other moves to shore up the defensive line – and the run defense in particular. In March, Baltimore brought back DT Michael Pierce (Minnesota Vikings) on a three-year contract. More notably, the Ravens selected of Connecticut nose tackle Travis Jones in the third round of the 2022 draft, keeping him from the Pittsburgh Steelers, who hoped to select him eight picks later, according to Steelers insider Gerry Dulac.
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Derek Wolfe’s Release Would Have Significant Salary Cap Implications
If it turns out that Derek Wolfe’s career is in fact over, the 32-year-old will finish having played in 122 regular-season games, with 116 starts, as per Pro Football Reference. The former second-round pick (selected No. 36 overall in 2012 by the Denver Broncos) has been credited with 350 total tackles (225 solo), with 52 tackles for loss, 34 sacks, 81 quarterback hits, 17 passes defensed, one interception and three fumble recoveries.
Wolfe played the first eight seasons of his career with the Broncos, then joined the Ravens on a one-year contract in March 2020. A year later he inked a three-year deal worth a total of $12 million, one that included a $5.4 million signing bonus. Wolfe has struggled to stay healthy, especially in recent years. All told, he has missed a total of 39 games in the last nine years.
Wolfe is set to earn a $2 million salary in 2022, which according to the aforementioned Jamison Hensley is fully guaranteed. As such, he carries a $3.8 million salary cap hit for this season, including the prorated portion of his signing bonus ($1.8 million). That’s the 13th-largest cap hit on the team in 2022, according to overthecap.com.
Meanwhile, the Ravens already have $10,266,879 of dead money counting against the team’s 2022 salary cap, with the majority of that attributed to Tavon Young ($3.338 million) and Alejandro Villanueva ($3.25 million).
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