Ravens Key Rookie a Training Camp Holdout Over ‘Third-Year Guarantee’

David Ojabo

Getty The Ravens' key draft pick is a no-show at training camp.

Veterans joined rookies at the Baltimore Ravens training camp on Tuesday, July 26, but one first-year player was notably absent. Arguably the key member of this year’s draft class is holding out of camp amid a dispute over a guarantee in his contract.

Even though the Ravens used two first-round picks on safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum, one of the team’s later selections has a more important role to play. He’s expected to bolster a pass rush that recorded a mere 34 sacks last season.

A holdout is not the ideal way for this key man to start his pro career. Not when his NFL debut is already set to be delayed because of a lengthy injury.

Second-Round Pick Keeping the Ravens Waiting

David Ojabo is staging a holdout while he continues to recover from the torn Achilles he suffered during Michigan’s pro day in March. The edge-rusher’s status was updated by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport during an appearance on Good Morning Football on Wednesday, July 27.

Rapoport called Ojabo “officially a holdout.” The 45th pick in this year’s draft is staying away because of a dispute about “the third-year guarantee” in his proposed rookie deal:

Along with his colleague, Mike Garafolo, Rapoport explained how the Houston Texans’ decision to fully guarantee the third year in the contracts of some of their own picks outside the first round has thrown other teams “into flux a bit.”

The encouraging thing for the Ravens is how Rapoport said “it’s a small argument.” He also revealed Ojabo’s injury is “not totally consequential,” so the holdout should be resolved quickly.

Until then it’s a bad look for Ojabo to be the only Raven who did not report to camp, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. Ojabo also holds another unwanted distinction among this year’s rookies, according to Hensley’s colleague, Field Yates:

There may not be any immediate pressure on either side to get a deal done, but Ojabo is a player the Ravens are counting on transform their defense. It’s not as if there are a great deal of alternatives to the former Wolverines’ standout.

Pass-Rush Cupboard Still Bare

The Ravens don’t need any additional concerns about Ojabo’s status. Instead, they need him signed and at least in the building studying the playbook so he can hit the ground running when he eventually makes his league debut.

Ojabo’s start date might not be confirmed “until late October at the earliest,” per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. It’s far from ideal considering fellow edge-rusher Tyus Bowser is recovering from surgery to fix an Achilles tear.

Bowser isn’t the only member of this pass-rush rotation who underwent a procedure this offseason. Odafe Oweh had shoulder surgery earlier in the year.

With this many question marks about the players most responsible for getting after the passer, it’s no wonder the Ravens brought back 33-year-old Justin Houston. The former Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts starter returned on a one-year deal, but Houston only logged a mere 4.5 sacks last season.

Bowser led the Ravens with seven sacks in 2021, while Oweh chipped in with 5 quarterback takedowns. It’s possible the latter makes a leap and plays up to his status as a first-round pick a year ago, but it’s more likely any significant boost for this pass rush will have to come from Ojabo.

He showed off his game-wrecking skills at Michigan, under the watchful eye of new Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. Ojabo was especially effective on football’s money down, according to PFF College:

That’s the kind of timely impact the Ravens were missing too often last season. It’s why Ojabo is such an important member of this draft class, a selection the Ravens can ill afford to have go wrong for any reason.

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