The Ravens and Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard have agreed to terms on a three-year contract extension, the team announced Monday.
Ricard, a Pro Bowl selection each of the past three seasons, is expected to be one of the highest-paid fullbacks in the NFL, though contract details were not immediately available. As he entered free agency, Ricard had signaled on social media that he expected a deal more in line with those of tight ends, casting doubt on his future in Baltimore.
He’ll instead return for a sixth season with the Ravens and a fourth under offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who favors heavier personnel packages and values run blockers. The Ravens’ only other offensive signing this offseason is the 6-foot-6, 318-pound Morgan Moses, a physically imposing right tackle.
“Pat Ricard is an important cog in our offense and the type of player we always seek to retain,” general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement Monday. “We admire his unique skills and the physical presence he brings to the Ravens and look forward to three more years of Project Pat!”
Ricard is one of the NFL’s most punishing lead blockers, earning a “Pancake Pat” nickname from quarterback Lamar Jackson. But with tight end Nick Boyle sidelined by knee injuries for much of the past two seasons, he’s also developed in pass protection and as a receiver. Last season, he set a single-game career high with 35 receiving yards against the Minnesota Vikings. He was also often left to block star pass rushers like then-Denver Broncos defensive end Von Miller and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson one-on-one.
Ricard’s mere presence seemed to juice the Ravens’ play-action-heavy passing offense. Over the team’s first nine games last season, before injuries and inconsistency struck, Jackson averaged 9.7 yards per pass attempt and had a 101.4 passer rating in Ricard-reliant two-back formations, according to Sports Info Solutions. In all other personnel groupings, Jackson averaged 7.1 yards per attempt and had a 91.6 passer rating in that period. His sack rate also jumped from 3.4% to 10.4% when the Ravens used one-back or no-back formations.
Rushing success, however, has not correlated as neatly. On designed running plays last year, the Ravens averaged 4 yards per carry with Ricard on the field and 5.2 yards without him. In 2020, while the rushing offense was more productive without Ricard (5.9 yards per carry on designed runs) than with him (5.2 yards per carry), the Ravens were actually more efficient on Ricard-involved carries, as measured by expected points added.
“I think we’re known as a running team, and we’ve had a lot of success running the ball,” Ricard said in a November interview with The Baltimore Sun. “So I think when they see me in there, they’re probably thinking, ‘OK, they’re running the ball.’ And that’s what I think kind of sucks [the defense] up. Because if they don’t respect our run game, and we do run it, and they don’t respect it and don’t try to play the run, then we’re going to just have positive plays. So they’re going to have to respect it.”
Ricard’s role has evolved since he arrived in 2017 as an undrafted defensive lineman out of Maine. In 2019, his first Pro Bowl season, he played 140 defensive snaps and lined up in the backfield for a majority of his offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2020, he played more combined snaps as an in-line tight end and slot receiver than in the backfield. Last season, he lined up more often as an in-line tight end than at any other position on the field.
“I’m trying to be that player, to be a perennial Pro Bowler and really be that guy that makes a big difference,” Ricard said in November, before injuries limited him to 13 games last season. He added: “I have to kind of evolve with the game, because the game’s changing, in terms of how you can block and how offenses work. I just try to be as physical as I can, because I feel like I’m the heartbeat on this team for physicality. I should be the standard of how I play, and I think that other guys on my team feed off that. So that’s what I try to bring every Sunday.”