The Ravens appeared to have one of the least desirable running back situations in the NFL after they lost their top three running backs — JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill — to injuries before the 2021 NFL season. However, that has changed five weeks into the season.
Despite the injuries, the Ravens have averaged 164.5 rushing yards per game, good for the fourth-most in the NFL to date. Lamar Jackson has been responsible for 69.8 of those yards, meaning that Baltimore has still approached 100 rushing yards per game with its backfield rotation.
The rest of the NFL has taken notice of the Ravens’ success. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Ravens have received trade inquiries about their rebuilt running back room. The team may not opt to make any deals before the Nov. 2, 2021, NFL trade deadline, but it speaks to the solid job the team did in adding depth and talent to its roster in short order.
Schefter didn’t specify which backs were drawing the most interest, but here’s a quick rundown of what Baltimore has at the running back position right now.
Ravens RB depth chart
1. Latavius Murray
The Saints released Murray before the season began because the veteran back wouldn’t take a pay cut. The Ravens scooped him up quickly and he has since established himself as the leader of the Baltimore backfield.
Murray has totaled 44 carries for the Ravens so far; that’s more than the other three running backs on the roster have combined (37). He is averaging only 3.4 yards per carry, but he is helping to wear down opposing defenses and has a team-high three rush TDs as well.
Murray’s combination of production and experience make him likely to remain the top back in Baltimore. Unless the team is willing to turn back to Ty’Son Williams as the backfield leader again, Murray should continue to see the most action in the backfield with Jackson.
2. Le’Veon Bell
The Ravens signed Bell on eve of the season, and he made his team debut in Week 4. He’s still on the Baltimore practice squad, but he was one of the four players the team chose to protect for Week 5. So, clearly, they value his skill set.
Bell played 20 snaps against Denver and racked up 11 yards rushing. It seems weird to list a practice squad player as the No. 2 option on any depth chart, but he logged nearly as many snaps as Devonta Freeman has all season in his first game. If Bell continues to get the call, it looks like he is the second-fiddle option behind Murray.
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3. Devonta Freeman
Freeman has played three games for the Ravens so far but has played just 25 offensive snaps. He has 41 yards on six carries and hasn’t caught a pass yet.
It appears that the Ravens are starting to prefer Bell to Freeman as the top veteran backup to Murray. Bell saw 20 snaps in Week 4 while Freeman played just six. Freeman still does have value as a veteran, but if he can’t produce more between the tackles, he may lose playing time to the youngest option the Ravens have at running back.
4. Ty’Son Williams
Williams actually began the season as the Ravens’ lead back and remains the team’s second-leading rusher behind Jackson. However, he slipped down the depth chart prior to Week 4 and was declared inactive for the game. This came after he played a season-low 29 snaps and ran five times against the Lions.
Why has Williams fallen down the depth chart? As Jeff Zrebiec explained, it had to do with how he ran and some fumbling issues.
Still, Williams is averaging 6.1 yards per carry, as Zrebiec notes, so he has talent. It’s just a matter of whether the Ravens are willing to trust him.
Williams’ status for Week 5’s game against the Colts will bear watching. For now, he ranks No. 4 on the depth chart, but if he’s active he could climb as high as the No. 2 spot — or maybe even No. 1. If not, he might make nice trade bait for the Ravens given his solid numbers and relative youth (25 years old).
Long story short, the Ravens’ depth chart is in flux. It will probably change on a weekly basis given how much Greg Roman likes to rotate his running backs.
Will the Ravens trade one of their RBs?
It’s too early to say, but given the Ravens’ reliance on the running game and the plethora of injuries it has suffered at the position this year, they may be wise to hold onto what they have as they look to make a playoff run.
That said, if the Ravens did make a trade, it would probably have to involve Ty’Son Williams. Simply put, the veterans they have on their roster don’t inspire much hope at this stage in their careers. All can tote the rock, but none are particularly explosive.
Williams has shown a bit of burst, but if he’s in the Ravens’ doghouse perhaps they’d move him for the right price. After all, Dobbins is coming back next year along with Edwards and Hill. Those three can be the future of the Baltimore backfield if the team isn’t confident in Williams.
Still, it doesn’t seem overly likely that the Ravens will trade one of their running backs at this time.
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