Ravens Defensive Lineman Addresses Retirement Speculation

Ravens Derek Wolfe

Getty Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe pursues an opponent during an October 2020 game.

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe has publicly addressed a report that he is considering retirement, tweeting, “I fully intend on coming back this season,” on the afternoon of March 16.

Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Sun wrote that Wolfe was “considering retirement,” after his comments on a recent podcast appearance indicated that the veteran defensive lineman could retire from the NFL.

“We’ll see what happens with if I retire or not or if I keep playing,” Wolfe said on the “Blood Origins” hunting podcast, per Shaffer. “I’m not sure yet. We’ve got to see how this hip goes.”

But Wolfe’s public statement indicates that he has made up his mind to return for his 10th NFL season, though he missed all of 2021 with a back injury suffered in the preseason.

Wolfe returned to practice in October, but could not get healthy enough to play, forcing the Ravens to shut him down for the year in November. Wolfe later revealed that he also underwent hip surgery, likely extending his recovery time.

Wolfe said on the podcast that his rehabilitation from his multiple injuries and medical procedures was “slow going,” but he appears determined to get back to the field, even responding directly to Shaffer on Twitter.

If Wolfe can’t play in 2022, the Ravens will be even thinner along the defensive line than they are already with All-Pro Calais Campbell testing free agency. Only 2020 third-rounder Justin Madubuike has more than 25 appearances and 750 snaps in his career among the rest of Baltimore’s interior linemen, with only unproven players like Broderick Washington, Isaiah Mack and Khalil McKenzie remaining.

Ravens’ Splashy Moves Drown Out Wolfe’s Announcement

But Wolfe’s announcement didn’t draw much attention around the league or on social media, with the Ravens’ splashy free agency moves distracting fans.

First came Marcus Williams on March 15, whose arrival brought the Ravens their rangy free safety of the future. Baltimore then brought in veteran offensive tackle Morgan Moses to bolster Lamar Jackson’s pass protection before pulling off a reunion with All-Pro pass rusher Za’Darius Smith.

All three players signed with the Ravens for less than their expected salaries, a coup for general manager Eric DeCosta. PFF projected that Williams would earn more than $16 million per year, while Spotrac predicted $1 million more, but he signed in Baltimore for an average annual value of just $14 million. Moses was thought to earn at least $7.5 million annually by both Spotrac and PFF, but his three-year deal averages out to just $5 million per season. Spotrac estimated Smith’s market value to be at $16.7 million per year, but his base contract pays just $35 million over four years. Even the max value of Smith’s deal would yield him $12.5 million per year, a discount likely impacted by his 2021 back injury.

Wolfe’s determination to return this year is another bit of good news for Ravens fans, though the former Denver Bronco’s 2021 struggles will likely temper expectations for his return.

Ravens Linked With Georgia Behemoth After Combine

But regardless of Wolfe’s status in 2022, the Ravens will still want reinforcements along their defensive line.

Ex-Chicago Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman is visiting Baltimore on March 18, per Heavy’s James Dudko, but at least one of the Ravens’ 10 selections in the 2022 NFL Draft will likely go towards the defensive line as well.

Georgia Bulldogs defensive linemen Devonte Wyatt and Travon Walker have both been mocked to the Ravens, but their mammoth teammate Jordan Davis has been hyped as a ‘post-combine fit’ in Baltimore by ESPN’s Matt Miller.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic agrees, mocking Davis to the Ravens in the first round on March 8:

Some of the endurance and snap count questions are still there, but Davis’ performance at the combine basically locked him into the draft’s top 20 picks. The Ravens will have some defensive line turnover this offseason, and Davis gives them a young building block in the middle of their front.

Davis is a high-floor run-stopper who proved at the combine that he has the athleticism to pressure opposing quarterbacks as well. His speed and explosiveness are otherworldly for his unteachable size, making him a potentially-generational defensive tackle prospect.

But the Ravens haven’t taken an interior defensive lineman in the first round since Haloti Ngata in 2006. Taking Davis would break that trend, but the results from a game-changing interior presence could be worth the risk.

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