The Ravens announced Friday that they would not sign free-agent defensive lineman Michael Brockers, parting ways after concerns reportedly emerged about his left ankle.
The Ravens had agreed to a three-year deal for Brockers worth a reported $30 million during the first wave of free agency last week, but the team had yet to finalize the contract. Brockers, one of the NFL’s more durable linemen during his eight years with the St. Louis and Los Angeles Rams, hurt his ankle in the team’s regular-season finale in December and was carted off the field.
Even as late as Wednesday night, Brockers’ agent expressed confidence that the Ravens’ signing would be finalized. But the sides could not reach an agreement after an independent physician’s evaluation of Brockers’ ankle reportedly raised questions about his readiness for 2020. Shortly after the Ravens’ announcement, Brockers re-signed with the Rams on a three-year deal worth up to $31.5 million, according to the NFL Network.
“Lord you work in Mysterious Ways, but I will Never Doubt or Question your plan. Sorry Ravens But ‘I’m Going, Going, Back Back, To Cali, Cali,’ ” Brockers wrote Friday on Instagram.
Because of the NFL’s coronavirus-related restrictions, the Ravens have not been allowed to send medical personnel to examine players. Defensive end Calais Campbell, whose trade to the Ravens and contract extension had highlighted the team’s makeover of its defensive line, told reporters Thursday that he’d had to undergo his physical at Arizona’s Mayo Clinic.
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Brockers’ deal is the Ravens’ second in three years to fall apart because of injury concerns. In 2018, the team voided a four-year, $29 million agreement with wide receiver Ryan Grant after he failed a physical. Like Brockers, Grant had suffered an ankle injury in his 2017 regular-season finale with the Washington Redskins.
Grant later signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts and finished the year with 35 catches for 334 yards. He played in just two games for the Oakland Raiders last season.
With Brockers now off the Ravens’ books, the team has about $15 million in salary cap space and a pressing need to readdress its interior defensive line. (Of that cap space, several million dollars will be allocated for draft picks. The Ravens also prefer to enter every season with wiggle room for additional signings.) But a week and a half into free agency, the pickings are slim.
The Ravens’ top homegrown options have already left. Free-agent defensive tackle Michael Pierce signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings last week, while the Ravens traded defensive end Chris Wormley to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2021 draft pick last Friday.
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams and Campbell are both strong starters, and Jihad Ward, Justin Ellis, Daylon Mack and Patrick Ricard can offer depth along the line. But the team will need to either sign a free agent or address the position through the draft next month.
Shelby Harris, 28, was one of the NFL’s more productive defensive ends last season, posting six sacks for the Denver Broncos, but he has started just 22 games in his five-year NFL career. In the next tier of free agents are Mike Daniels, Timmy Jernigan, Christian Covington and Derek Wolfe, all versatile, if flawed, options.
In the draft, Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa could be a tempting prospect at No. 28 overall. Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore, Texas Christian’s Ross Blacklock and Auburn’s Marlon Davidson could also be options in the first two rounds.