Ravens Cut Former Top-10 Pick, Ex-Super Bowl Champ

Ravens Lamar Jackson

Getty Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson greets his future teammate Andre Smith after a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019.

The Baltimore Ravens made a flurry of roster moves on Monday, August 23 to bring their roster down to 81 players ahead of the cut-down deadline on August 24.

The Ravens cut defensive back Jordan Richards, offensive tackle Andre Smith and wide receiver Michael Dereus and placed veteran linebacker L.J. Fort on injured reserve after he suffered a season-ending torn ACL on August 21 against the Carolina Panthers.

The team also waived quarterback Kenji Bahar on August 24 just before the 4:00 p.m. ET deadline. That leaves the Ravens with only two healthy quarterbacks–Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley–as Trace McSorley recovers from a back injury.

Richards won Super Bowl LI with the New England Patriots in 2017, and also played in the team’s Super Bowl LII loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. He appeared in 16 games for the Ravens last season as a regular contributor on special teams.

Smith was drafted with the sixth pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals after a stellar career at the University of Alabama. He joined the Ravens towards the end of the 2019 season, but chose to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dereus signed with the Ravens out of Georgetown University after going undrafted in the 2020 NFL draft. The former Hoya was waived last year, as he failed to show enough promise to compete for a roster spot for the second preseason in a row.

Ravens 53-Man Roster Takes Shape

The Ravens will still have to make one more cut by 4:00 p.m. on August 24 before making a series of tough decisions by the NFL’s final roster cut deadline at the same time on August 31.

The front office’s knack for finding quality depth has been a highlight of the preseason, as several undrafted players have stood out in the team’s first two games against the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.

Head coach John Harbaugh told media after Saturday’s game against the Panthers that tough roster decisions are a “great problem” that the team has “worked hard to have.”

He called the final roster cuts “very difficult,” adding that he finds it “rewarding” to see so many players succeed.

Indeed, the roster math is getting tricky for general manager Eric DeCosta and the Ravens’ front office, especially on the defensive side of the ball. As many as 14 defensive backs could be in the mix for a roster spot, with up to seven outside linebackers and seven defensive linemen also fighting to make the team.

Justin Tucker Full of Praise for Backup Kicker

Undrafted rookie kicker Jake Verity has impressed so far this preseason, making all of field goal and extra point attempts, including a 53-yarder against the Saints.

His performance is reminding Ravens fans of Kaare Vedvik, an undrafted free agent who hit four field goals in the first game of the 2019 preseason, including a 55-yard make. General manager Eric DeCosta, in the first of many excellent trades during his leadership of the front office, managed to pry a fifth-round draft pick from the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for Vedvik’s services.

The Ravens’ All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker has taken note as well, telling media after Monday’s practice that Baltimore has a “track record” of developing specialists.

“I’ll be shocked if he’s not on somebody’s 53-man roster to start the season,” said Tucker, who doubled down on his praise of Verity, continuing, “I would also be surprised if we don’t get a [draft] pick for him.”

The Ravens will certainly be hoping they can convince another team to part with a draft pick to acquire Verity. Teams with precarious kicking situations like the New York Jets, Washington Football Team and Tennessee Titans could all be interested in Verity’s services.

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