The Ravens acquired running back Delone Carter in a trade from the Indianapolis Colts by unloading reserve wide receiver and kick returner David Reed on Wednesday.
The exchange provides a fresh start for two players who weren't assured of roster spots with their original teams.
A 2011 Colts fourth-round draft pick from Syracuse, Carter is a stocky power back at 5-foot-9, 232 pounds who's produced in spot action with 499 career rushing yards and five touchdowns on 133 carries with six receptions for 31 yards.
With the Colts, where he initially played for Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, Carter ranked behind Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradhshaw and Donald Brown in training camp this year. Carter gained a career-high 377 yards and scored two touchdowns in three starts as a rookie, but dipped to 122 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Carter's arrival in Baltimore just a few weeks from the major roster cutdown to 53 players isn't regarded as a positive sign for running backs Anthony Allen and Bobby Rainey.
However, there are scenarios where the Ravens could go with just four running backs despite Carter's presence. Running back Ray Rice and fullback Vonta Leach are the starters with Bernard Pierce and Kyle Juszczyk backing them up.
Pierce missed the last preseason game with a minor sprained knee, but has returned to practice and is scheduled to play Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers.
Allen is a valuable special-teams contributor blocking for kick returner Jacoby Jones, but Juszczyk could fill that role and is heavily involved in kick coverage. Rainey is an elusive kick returner and all-purpose back but kick coverage isn't his strong suit.
Financially, this transaction is essentially a wash.
Carter, who had 3,104 yards and 24 touchdowns in college, has two years left on his $2.469 million rookie contract with nonguaranteed base salaries of $555,000 this year and $645,000 in 2014.
Reed signed a two-year, $1.86 million contract in March that included a $500,000 signing bonus and a $630,000 nonguaranteed base salary this year, but he battled groin and wrist injuries and had fallen on the depth chart recently.
Reed has only five career catches for 66 yards since being drafted in the fifth round out of Utah in 2010. He led the NFL with a 29.3 kickoff return average as a rookie, including a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Houston Texans.
Reed spent most of last season on the physically-unable-to-perform list with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in 2011, the year he was replaced as the starting kickoff returner after losing two fumbles against the Seattle Seahawks.
“This trade gives us a chance to improve in key areas moving forward,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. “David is a very competitive football player and we welcome his style of play and energy. We wish Delone well with his opportunity to play for another first-class organization and we thank him for his efforts.”