Eric DeCosta has talked at length about how crucial it will be for his team to avoid the injury-related pitfalls of last season.
It comes as little surprise, then, that DeCosta's Ravens are exploring options at a position hit the earliest and the hardest by injury in 2021. The Ravens general manager is aiming for the top of the running back market, engaging in discussions with free-agent running back Melvin Gordon about a potential deal to bring him to Baltimore, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.
Gordon is just a few years removed from having enough performance-based leverage to demand a pay raise (or trade) from the Chargers, who ultimately let him walk in free agency following a 2019 season that began with a holdout. Gordon didn't venture far when finding a new team, signing a two-year, $16 million deal with the AFC West rival Denver Broncos.
Gordon proved he could still be a rather productive back in his two seasons in Denver, rushing for an average of 4.6 yards per carry in 418 attempts from 2020-2021. In fact, Gordon slightly outperformed himself in his last season with the Broncos, but the selection and exciting potential of North Carolina running back Javonte Williams -- with whom Gordon shared responsibilities in 2021 -- led the Broncos to also let Gordon walk in free agency.
Gordon would be an ideal fit in Baltimore solely because of what the Ravens endured a year ago. Baltimore lost its entire backfield -- J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill -- before Week 1 began in 2021. DeCosta was forced to scramble for replacements, eventually bringing in the likes of Le'Veon Bell, Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman. Baltimore unintentionally became a beacon of hope for running backs seeking second chances.
It worked out for Freeman, who played his best football in the last half-decade. Murray prospered too, rushing for 4.2 yards per carry (119 attempts) and scoring six touchdowns at 31 years old.
Neither remain on the roster. Gordon is better than both and arguably superior to all three backs on Baltimore's roster (though small sample sizes don't help us with these comparisons).
At 28 years old (he turns 29 next week), Gordon isn't yet at the dreaded 30-year-old mark for running backs. He's proven in the last two seasons he can still be quite productive, and Baltimore has certainly learned its lesson about never having too much depth at running back (or elsewhere, for that matter).
We'll see if DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh deem Gordon a good fit for their Ravens.