After the Baltimore Ravens lost right tackle Rick Wagner in free agency to the Detroit Lions, another starter will become a free agent.
According to multiple sources, the Ravens have released Pro Bowl center Jeremy Zuttah. His release will open up $2.392 million in cap space for Baltimore, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN:
Zuttah has been an expected cap cut. He would free up $2.392 million in cap space. Baltimore would have to fill starting center spot. https://t.co/mtnUblmsIi
— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) March 15, 2017
Zuttah was set to make a $3.5 million salary in 2017. If Zuttah’s release receives a post June 1st designation, the Ravens will have $3.5 million in savings. Both will be offset by a a $540K cap hit.
After being traded to the Ravens from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers previous to the 2014 season, Zuttah has started 41 games with the team, including all 16 games in 2016. The Ravens also lost offensive guard Vladimir Ducasse in free agency as well, with his signing of a three-year deal with the Buffalo Bills.
With the release Zuttah, the Ravens are attempting to get stronger up front. Many times last season, Zuttah was pushed into the offensive backfield. This caused quarterback Joe Flacco a great deal of distress last season. Now they will either replace Zuttah in-house, sign a new center, or replace him in the draft.
If Baltimore does decide to go in-house with center, they could start John Urschel at center. Urschel played in 13 games during the 2016 season and started three at guard. His versatility can be an added plus to the Ravens’ offensive line. He’s also a genius.
Then many fans have clamored for former New York Jets standout center Nick Mangold. The seven-time Pro Bowler has been a mainstay on the offensive line for 11 seasons. Now he is a free agent for the first time in his career. His leadership would be key to some of the Ravens younger offensive linemen. Pairing him alongside Marshal Yanda on the inside could give Baltimore the veteran presence that they haven’t had since Matt Birk and Yanda paired together during the 2012 Super Bowl team.
Two other names that have been brought up are Joe Hawley (formerly of the Buccaneers) and John Sullivan (formerly of Washington). Hawley would be the preferable move for the Ravens, as he is younger and played in more games during the 2016 season.
The Ravens need to address the offensive, preferably by adding more power blocking. Center is just one of those positions that need some fixing.