By: Ashley Anderson
Editor’s note: Ashley has a whole category on PBN. Check out all of Ashley’s 3 big questions posts!
Unlike most of the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens love their fullbacks. It is a position that does not garner much attention, but it is arguably a focal point in the Ravens’ offense. Here are a few big questions surrounding the fullback group.
3.) Will Patrick Ricard continue to be a two-way player?
Patrick Ricard, aka Project Pat, came into the NFL as an undrafted defensive end out of Maine. Baltimore saw a kid who loved to hit and quickly realized he could be an asset on offense. With that, he became a rare two-way player, helping open holes as a fullback in the Ravens’ prolific run game while attacking opponents on defense.
Last season, Ricard did most of his damage on offense, but he made some splash defensive plays here and there. In a 49-13 shellacking of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10, Ricard was credited with a strip-sack that led to a touchdown. It was his lone sack and forced fumble, and he finished the season with nine tackles and a pass breakup.
As a receiver, he has 21 catches for 104 yards and four touchdowns in his four seasons. While clearly not an aerial threat, he does have sure hands to pick up tough yards on quick passes. With the Ravens looking to expand their passing attack, Ricard could become more involved this year, using his brute strength to bully past defenders in search of first downs.
On the flip side, Baltimore still seems to have a need for more pass rushers. Though he is more of an offensive specialist at this point, Ricard could line up on defense to throw off opposing quarterbacks. Will Baltimore keep Ricard lined up strictly at fullback, or will he continue to be their Swiss Army Knife?
2.) Will the Baltimore Ravens extend Patrick Ricard at some point this season?
As evidenced above, Ricard is a player the Ravens love to utilize in a variety of roles. Following the 2019 season, they inked him to a two-year, $7.3 million deal that is set to expire in the coming offseason. In those two seasons, Ricard has been durable, reliable, and done everything Baltimore asks of him. He has certainly earned another payday.
Unfortunately for Ricard, fullbacks are not a priority in most situations. Baltimore already needs to find a way to pay Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews among others, and their wallets are about to be much lighter. A savvy front office knows where to cut costs, and even a player as special as Ricard can land on the chopping block.
One way to avoid that would be an in-season extension that could come at a lower cost than waiting for Ricard to test the market. Although there are few teams that utilize a true fullback, the league has undoubtedly taken notice of a guy who can make an impact on all three phases of the game. With another solid season, he could push himself out of Baltimore’s price range.
1.) Is there room for Ben Mason on the Baltimore Ravens 53-man roster?
Baltimore may have been thinking ahead when they selected fullback/tight end Ben Mason in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. While fullback is not a pressing need this year, Ricard is a free agent following the season. Mason is eerily similar to Ricard having been a two-way player at Michigan.
Toughness would be the one word used to describe Mason, who was twice voted Toughest Player of the Year by his college teammates. He went so hard at rookie minicamp that he tore the skin off his feet and was sidelined due to the injury. Clearly, he is committed to making it in the NFL.
The problem for Mason is there really is no role for him to currently step into this season. While there is an open competition for the third tight end slot, Mason only caught three passes at Michigan and does not seem primed to fit that need. With Ricard locking down the fullback job, Mason could be on the outside looking in on cut day.
NEXT POST: Logistically, Lamar Jackson needs to get Covid-19 vaccine
However, the Ravens could be grooming Mason to be a potential replacement for Ricard. Thus, if he clears waivers, they will likely stash him on their practice squad. He will need to put on a big show in training camp and the preseason if he is going to earn a spot on the active roster.