Ravens Sign ‘Freight Train’ Former XFL, Bengals Running Back

Ravens Jacques Patrick

Getty Former Cincinnati Bengals running back Jacques Patrick carries the ball during a 2021 preseason game.

The Baltimore Ravens signed former XFL and Cincinnati Bengals running back Jacques Patrick on December 4, per the NFL’s official transaction report, giving the team some last-minute running back depth.

Patrick spent four years at Florida State University, averaging 4.9 yards per carry while also flashing some pass-catching versatility out of the backfield. While he was not drafted by any NFL team, he was selected by the Tampa Bay Vipers in the 2020 XFL Draft, though the league’s dissolution after one season temporarily left him out of professional football.

He eventually signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he spent the 2021 preseason as a “freight train,” according to Sports Illustrated’s Mike Santagata.

His statistics, both with the Vipers and the Bengals, back up that assessment. Patrick averaged 3.58 yards after contact in his five XFL appearances, earning a 85.6 rushing grade from Pro Football Focus in 2020. He showed off similar prowess in Cincinnati during the 2021 preseason, averaging 52 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry, 3.48 of which came after contact, per PFF.

At 6-foot-2 and 231 pounds, Patrick is a massive running back who does most of his damage running between the tackles, though he has serviceable speed and receiving skills, per Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat.

But don’t expect Patrick to make a massive impact on the Ravens, either this season or next. He current profiles as a depth signing and potential backup power back in case of COVID-related absences for the Ravens’ regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 9.

Ravens’ RBs For 2022

Baltimore currently has three running backs under contract for the 2022 season, per Spotrac, all of whom are coming off a season-ending injury: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill.

Dobbins and Edwards are expected to share lead back duties in 2022, while several other backs will be competing for a roster spot as the Ravens’ third-string running back. While Hill filled that role in 2019 and 2020, veteran Latavius Murray and 2021 undrafted free agent Nate McCrary could also be in the mix.

Murray has been Baltimore’s main power back this season, but he doesn’t offer much outside of that role, as he lacks the versatility to contribute to the passing game or on special teams.

McCrary had a promising preseason in Baltimore before being signed by the Denver Broncos. He eventually returned to the Ravens but failed to make an impact before being placed on the Practice Squad/Injured List.

Ty’Son Williams also showed out in the preseason, though he quickly lost the confidence of the coaching staff, leading to fewer opportunities as the regular season progressed. Though the Ravens have the right to re-sign Williams as an exclusive rights free agent, his gradual disappearance from Baltimore’s offense indicates that he’ll need to find a new team next season.

Freeman Most Likely Return Candidate

Veteran Devonta Freeman appears to be the most likely running back to return to the Ravens next season.

Freeman sits behind only Lamar Jackson in rushing attempts (128) and yards (555), and he is also fifth on the team with 32 receptions. But those statistics don’t encompass Freeman’s value to the Ravens as a last-minute signing in the wake of Edwards’ and Dobbins’ injuries.

Ian Hartitz of Pro Football Focus also noted that Freeman has the second-most touches without a drop or fumble in the NFL this season, behidn only Elijah Mitchell of the San Francisco 49ers.

That reliability has been vital for a Ravens offense that has lost several key players, including multiple All-Pros, for stretches throughout the season.

While Freeman will be a free agent after this season ends, he’s certainly played well enough to earn a new contract, whether it be from the Ravens or a different running back-needy team.