The free agency signing period doesn’t officially begin until Wednesday, but the Ravens remained busy Tuesday clearing salary cap space by parting ways with two veterans on the offensive side of the ball.
Baltimore cut starting right tackle Austin Howard and running back Danny Woodhead, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Their departures save roughly $3.8 million in space when including the salaries of the two players replacing them in the “Rule of 51” calculation.
Howard’s future appeared up in the air at best after the Ravens re-signed offensive lineman James Hurst to a four-year, $17.5 million contract on Monday. Signed last August after being cut by Oakland, Howard, 30, appeared in all 16 games and ranked 36th among offensive tackles in Pro Football Focus’ grading system, but the organization declined to pick up his 2018 option and will save $3 million in cap space by doing so.
It remains unclear who will man the right tackle spot in 2018 with neither Hurst nor Alex Lewis — the logical in-house candidates — having proven themselves as a starting-caliber option there. The Ravens would have another hole at center if free agent Ryan Jensen fetches a lucrative contract on the open market as many are anticipating.
Those aren’t exactly encouraging developments for an offense already in need of more talent at wide receiver and tight end.
The Ravens signed the 33-year-old Woodhead to a three-year, $8.8 million contract at the start of free agency last March, but a serious hamstring injury in the season opener sidelined him for eight games and he finished with just 33 catches for 200 yards. The third-down back has now missed 35 games over the last four seasons, leaving his NFL future at a crossroads.
Howard and Woodhead joined defensive back Lardarius Webb as cap casualties a day after Webb saw his contract officially terminated, seemingly ending his nine-year run in Baltimore.