General manager Ozzie Newsome officially introduced Benjamin Watson as the newest Raven on Thursday, while acknowledging that the team has added another name into the crowded tight end position mix.
Newsome said that wide receiver Darren Waller, a sixth-round draft pick last year who caught two balls for 18 yards in his rookie season, will likely be moving to tight end when the team starts workouts in preparation for the 2016 season.
"That's something that we looked at toward the end of last year when he was recovering from his hamstring injury," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We just feel like a 250-pound wide receiver who can run like he can has a chance to maybe grow into a tight end. He's embraced it and he's working on that right now in the offseason. Obviously, Ben will have a chance to work with him, too."
That means that Waller is currently one of nine tight ends on the Ravens' roster. The other eight are Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle, Dennis Pitta, Chase Ford, Harold Spears and Konrad Reuland.
Of course, not all of those can be counted on for the 2016 season. Pitta, who has twice dislocated and fractured his right hip, will likely be a post-June 1 release, as it isn't clear if he'll ever play in the NFL again. Boyle is suspended for the first 10 games of the 2016 season after violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. And there are significant questions about whether Gillmore, who has labrum tears in both of his shoulders, will be ready for the start of the season.
"We got positive news last week, but he still has a recovery road that he has to go down in order to get himself ready for the beginning of the year," Newsome said of Gillmore. "I feel very good about him barring any setbacks."
Still, even if Pitta isn't on the team, Gillmore has to miss a few weeks and Boyle obviously will be on the shelf, the Ravens still would have Watson and Williams, and they should be able to find a competent third tight end between Ford, who they tendered at a cost of $1.67 million, Spears, Waller and Reuland.
"Tight end, at one point, was not a priority, but it became one because of those two situations," said Newsome, citing Gillmore's health and Boyle's suspension. "We were lucky to be able to meet our needs with a person like Ben."