Former first-round inside linebacker Patrick Queen wasn’t the only starter for the Baltimore Ravens heading into a contract that addressed his contractual status in a direct or indirect fashion through a form of media on Thursday, June 1, 2023.
J.K. Dobbins is his 2020 draft classmate and the team’s starting running back but isn’t currently attending Organized Team Activities. However, that didn’t stop him from taking to Twitter with a trio of cryptic posts that went somewhat viral.
In the first, he expressed his love for the city and fanbase and his desire to want to remain with the Ravens for the entirety of his career.
In the second he reinforced the notion of the first stating his unwavering fealty to the city and community that welcomed and embraced him when he got drafted in the second round out of Ohio State at No. 55 overall four years ago.
He deleted the third tweet that read “(I don’t know) tho sadly” which led many on social media to believe that negotiations on a possible contract extension to keep on the team beyond the 2023 season aren’t going well.
Dobbins also doesn’t have any mention of the Ravens in his bio on Twitter. This is popular common practice among young players in the league that are seeking new deals, a pay raise, or aren’t happy with their role with their current teams.
Health has been Biggest Obstacle Preventing Dobbins’ Breakout
The 24-year-old has been hampered by injuries the past two years which calls to question just how much leverage he has if any during the negotiation process outside of withholding his services which is an ill-advised route for a running back entering their prime.
After a severe multi-ligament injury caused him to miss the entire 2021 season, he was limited to nine games including the playoffs last season, and had to undergo a knee scope to clean up some scar tissue on his surgically repaired knee.
Even though he wasn’t 100 percent recovered, Dobbins still flashed glimpses of the dynamic and explosive playmaker that he led all running backs in yards with six yards per carry as a rookie in 2020 per Pro Football Reference.
He began looking more like his old self towards the end of the year and was one of the most efficient runners in the league over the final few weeks of the season and into the playoffs.
Dobbins has been unhappy with his role and lack of utilization in the Ravens’ offense dating back to his rookie year when he clearly established himself as the best player at his position on the team but was still limited on a snap count.
He eclipsed 15 carries in a single game for the first time in his career in Week 17 of last year and sounded off in frustration after he wasn’t featured more in the team’s 24-17 loss to their division rival Cincinnati Bengals in the Wildcard round of the 2022 playoffs.
Trying to Get Paid Sooner Rather Than Later Makes Sense
He is poised to have the best season of his career to date this upcoming season which couldn’t have come at a better time since that he’ll be playing in a contract year. However, it is understandable why he might want to get a deal done prior to the season given his injury history and the devalued position he plays.
It would provide him with long-term financial security at a position where teams are becoming less inclined to give out second and third contracts to players that aren’t elite pass catchers like Christian McCaffery of the San Fransico 49ers or Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints.
Even a fantasy football dynamo like the Los Angeles Chargers’ Austin Ekler was unable to find a team willing to trade for him and meet his increased salary demands so he just settled more a small incentive-based pay bump for the 2023 season.
There are currently more accomplished former Pro Bowl running backs such as Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott, and Leonard Fournette sitting on the free agent market. While all three of those players are older than Dobbins, the fact that they have yet to be signed and the younger players at the position who did find new teams this offseason didn’t break the bank are likely cautionary tales that are factoring into his desire to wanting to get extended sooner rather than later.