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Ravens GM Eric DeCosta 'hopeful' of re-signing RBs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards

Being a Baltimore Ravens running back has been a precarious occupation over the past few seasons.

Thus, general manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh are aiming to solidify the RB room. Just how they do that remains to be seen, but with a 2024 NFL Draft not expected to be rife with backfield talent, re-signing impending free agents and adding some veteran help is likely to be the game plan.

The first order of business might well be bringing back J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.

"We're still talking to Gus. We'll talk to J.K. -- a couple of free agents that we had," DeCosta said Tuesday at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, via the team website. "We're hopeful that we can get something done with those guys."

With only the injured Keaton Mitchell and Justice Hill under contract for 2024, regardless of how it transpires, stocking the RB stable is of paramount importance for DeCosta and Co.

"We need more than two running backs, so certainly I think you'll see us make a couple acquisitions along the way," DeCosta said. "We think Keaton Mitchell's going to come back from his knee injury. Justice is a player last year that was probably one of the unsung heroes of our whole team, I would say.

"We've looked at the draft class. It's probably not as deep as some other positions that we'll see in this year's draft class. There's some talented [free agent] players that we will look at as well, but I think it's probably safe to say that we'll have more than two running backs on our roster at some point. We will definitely have a plan for that position."

This year's potential crop of free-agent tailbacks is a high-profile one. Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard and D’Andre Swift are some of the big-name options, but the Ravens could easily go with more familiar and affordable choices.

The 28-year-old Edwards has spent all six of of his NFL years in Baltimore as an undrafted free agent. He's on the heels of his best campaign yet, one in which he posted 198 carries for 810 yards and an eye-popping 13 rushing touchdowns -- all career-bests. Much of Edwards' usage came to be due to Dobbins tearing his Achilles in Week 1.

Dobbins, a 2020 NFL Draft second-round selection of the Ravens, has flashed brilliance, but his career has been marred by injuries. In four seasons, Dobbins, the No. 92 free agent in Gregg Rosenthal’s Top 101, has played just 24 of a potential 67 games. Having had a somewhat contentious relationship with the Ravens while searching for an extension, Dobbins, 25, is now facing free agency and coming back from a torn Achilles all at once.

Dobbins and Edwards each missed the duration of the 2021 season with injuries.

Mitchell, who looked brilliant in spurts during his 2023 rookie campaign, is coming back from an ACL tear suffered in Week 15, so his availability for the start of the season is in question. The one healthy option under contract is Hill, who tallied career highs of 84 carries, 387 yards, three TDs and 593 scrimmage yards.

The Ravens' rushing attack -- sans quarterback Lamar Jackson, who's led the team in running yards the last five years -- is clearly an area of focus this year, whether it ends up looking similar to the 2023 depth chart or not.

"I love the way Justice played. He was incredible all year, took another step. He's a great player, then, after that, we just have to see," Harbaugh said. "We would love to get Gus back. J.K. is floating around out there. Those guys have been with us. We'll just have to see how it goes."

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