Ravens Announce Signing of Ex-Packers, USFL Wide Receiver

Bailey Gaither Ravens

Getty San Jose State wide receiver Bailey Gaither makes a catch during a December 2020 game.

It’s certainly not the marquee signing that many fans were clamoring for, but the Baltimore Ravens have added another wide receiver in Bailey Gaither, who last played for the Pittsburgh Maulers of the USFL earlier this year.

Gaither signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted rookie in 2021, though he actually retired in August, per USA Today’s Ryan Wood. It apparently didn’t stick, as he was drafted in the 14th round of the inaugural USFL draft by the Maulers. He made seven appearances, including two starts, during the 2022 regular season, finishing 16th in the league with 328 yards on 24 catches and tied for second with four touchdowns, according to Fox Sports.

The former San Jose State standout is the latest of several undrafted receivers to arrive in Baltimore looking to earn a roster spot, including Alabama’s Slade Bolden and Shemar Bridges out of Fort Valley State.

Ravens Continue to Zig Where NFL Zags

Gaither’s addition comes just a day after Julio Jones signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, highlighting the contrast between the Ravens’ approach to the wide receiver position compared to the rest of the NFL.

The Bucs already had Mike Evans and Chris Godwin heading into this offseason, but still added Russell Gage and Julio Jones to Tom Brady’s group of targets.

Meanwhile, the Ravens let Sammy Watkins leave Baltimore, cut Miles Boykin and sent Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals, only adding a slew of undrafted wideouts to fill the void.

While the Ravens weren’t the only team to trade away their top wide receiver – the Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs both dealt their All-Pro wideouts – those teams made more of an effort to replace Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, respectively. The Chiefs spent a second-round pick on Skyy Moore and signed JuJu Smith-Schuster, while the Packers used second- and fourth-round picks on Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, and even added Watkins for good measure.

The Ravens, on the other hand, didn’t use one of their 11 draft picks on a wide receiver and passed on the position in free agency as well. That’s a surprising lack of investment for a team that has just one receiver with more than 500 career receiving yards in Rashod Bateman and one older than 25 in James Proche.

But Baltimore’s decision to forgo adding a veteran wideout is also seen as a sign of faith in Bateman and Proche to lead a wide receiver room that also includes Devin Duvernay and Tylan Wallace. After spending four draft picks on the group in 2020 and 2021 – including a first-rounder on Bateman and a third-rounder on Duvernay – the Ravens seem content to see what they have in their young receivers before making any splashy moves, either via trade or free agent signing.

Second-Year Guard Fails Conditioning Test

The Ravens also announced that they placed second-year offensive guard Ben Cleveland on the Non-Football Injury List, a standard designation for any player who fails the team’s conditioning test required to participate in training camp.

Baltimore’s conditioning test is known as one of the most grueling in the NFL, as explained by ESPN’s Jamison Hensley in 2020:

Here’s the test: Players must run a total of 900 yards in six legs. Each set consists of 25 yards out and back three times. They must finish that heat of 150 yards under a designated time — 32 seconds for the offensive and defensive linemen, 29 seconds for the tight ends and linebackers and 27 seconds for the wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs. If you go over that time in any of the six legs, you flunk the test and have to take it over.

Pro Bowlers like Haloti Ngata and Orlando Brown Jr. have failed the test over the years, which was called “pure murder” by ex-Ravens running back Justin Forsett.

“It is the hardest conditioning test I had throughout my time in the NFL,” said Forsett, who played on seven different teams during his career.

Even wide receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones failed the test in 2013, proving that the most athletic Ravens can still struggle to meet the team’s rigorous standards.

Per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Cleveland can retake the test as soon as tomorrow and join the rest of the team at camp.