Ravens Can Replace Gus Edwards With ‘Short-Yardage Option’ in Free Agency

Gus Edwards

Getty The Baltimore Ravens can replace Gus Edwards with a proven "short-yardage option" in free agency.

Success in the running game still defined the Baltimore Ravens on offense this season. Well, except when it mattered most. Gus Edwards was a big part of the success, but the powerful, short-yardage back is set for 2024 NFL free agency, leaving the Ravens with a problem. General manager Eric DeCosta can solve it by signing AJ Dillon from the Green Bay Packers.

Described as a “supersized vet” by Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, Dillon might warm to “a return to his hometown Baltimore as a short-yardage option.”

Dillon’s a good fit unless he supplants fellow running back Aaron Jones on the depth chart. Yet, as Benjamin noted, Jones “has proven much more valuable” for the Pack.

A greater workload with the Ravens would let Dillon prove his worth in areas of the field before the goal-line. Dillon has RB1 potential, but he could still work as part of a committee with the Ravens, provided the backfield isn’t too depleted during free agency.

Gus Edwards Not the Only Ravens RB Set to Enter the Market

Edwards is ticketed for free agency alongside fellow runner J.K. Dobbins. The latter has had trouble staying on the field, despite his obvious workhorse traits and flair for the big play.

A torn ACL and LCL wrecked Dobbins’ season in 2021, before a torn Achilles did the damage in Week 1 of this campaign. The absence of Dobbins let other backs step up, and Edwards became the most consistent.

Edwards turned 198 carries into 810 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Many of those scores came in short-yardage situations, like when Edwards rushed for a 1-yard score in three-straight games against the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins.

As well as a clutch streak near the end zone, Edwards also punishes defenses between the 20s. He broke a career-high 12 tackles, according to Pro Football Reference.

Swapping No. 35 for Dillon would ensure the Ravens retained the smash-mouth element of their rushing attack. Dillon would also provide a brute-force complement to the most dynamic back on the roster.

AJ Dillon and Keaton Mitchell Double Act Would Dominate

Running Dillon between the tackles would soften defenses up to be attacked with speed on the outside from Keaton Mitchell. The rookie free agent was becoming a breakout star before he tore his ACL and had to be replaced veteran Melvin Gordon III.

Before his injury, Mitchell was the sudden, breakaway threat the Ravens needed on deck. This run against the Cincinnati Bengals was one of many that showcased Mitchell’s knack for splash plays.

Mitchell also averaged 10.3 yards per carry and ripped off seven runs of 20-plus yards, including two of 40 or more.

A thunder and lightning-type combination of Dillon and a healthy again Mitchell would keep the Ravens at the summit of the league’s rushing attacks. Especially when their alternating styles dovetail with the dual-threat brilliance of quarterback Lamar Jackson.

This many advantages makes it worth DeCosta finding a way to work out a deal for Dillon. The 6-foot, 247-pounder counted for $1,681,855 against the salary cap for the Packers this season, per Spotrac.com.

Getting creative with the cap will be a priority for the Ravens this offseason. There should be enough room for Dillon once DeCosta has done some wheeling and dealing.

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