By Matt Vensel
2:00 PM EDT, August 8, 2011
With the addition of Ricky Williams, the Ravens are getting one of the most interesting men in the NFL -- a former first-round pick who famously posed for the cover of ESPN The Magazine in a wedding dress, took a one-year sabbatical from the NFL to study holistic medicine, tested positive for marijuana multiple times, played in the Canadian Football League and was the subject of a documentary called "Run Ricky Run."
They are also getting a veteran running back who is fresher than his age (34) suggests and who should be a suitable (and will definitely be a less expensive) replacement for Willis McGahee, who is now in Denver.
According to Jamison Hensley of The Baltimore Sun, Williams and the Ravens agreed to terms on Monday. Pro Football Talk is reporting that it is a two-year contract that could max out at $4 million total.
The Ravens were looking for a veteran backup for dual-threat back Ray Rice, who touched the ball a career-high 370 times in 2010. Meanwhile, McGahee had 100 carries and caught 14 passes.
Count on a similar workload for Williams, who thrived in a running-back committee with Ronnie Brown in Miami the past three seasons. Williams had 560 carries for 2,453 yards and 17 touchdowns during that span, including a 1,121-yard rushing campaign in 2009. The Dolphins wanted to get younger in their backfield, so neither player was brought back this offseason.
Williams is bound to run into the wall of old age sooner rather than later, but you can subtract three years from his NFL odometer. He retired for the 2004 season, was suspended for the entire 2006 season after failing another drug test and played in just one game in 2007 after tearing a pectoral muscle upon his reinstatement.
He is a powerful runner with good vision, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield, too. Williams is no McGahee, who could be a starter in Denver, but having a backup like McGahee was a luxury.
I have my concerns about Williams carrying the load should Rice suffer a serious injury this season, but the Ravens will be in good hands with Williams if they need him to spell Rice or start a game or two.
And as a big NFL fan, I’m excited to cover Williams as his circuitous NFL career wraps up in Baltimore. We’ve seen Ricky in a wedding dress and a Toronto Argonauts uniform, but I never thought I’d see him in purple.
Consider my interest piqued.
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