For one drive, running back Danny Woodhead showed exactly why the Ravens were so excited when they signed him last March. On the Ravens’ first offensive possession of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals, Woodhead had one carry for four yards and three catches for 33 yards. However, the drive ended with Woodhead leaving the field on a cart with a significant hamstring injury.
Woodhead missed eight games and when he returned, he never made the offensive impact the Ravens envisioned. They released the pass-catching running back today less than a year after signing him to a three-year, $8.8 million deal. Woodhead’s agent, Chris Gittings, confirmed his pending release.
The two sides discussed an altered 2018 contract, but couldn’t agree to a deal. It’s not impossible Woodhead returns to the team at some point later in the offseason.
Woodhead, 33, had 14 carries for 56 yards and caught 33 balls for 200 yards while playing just eight games for the Ravens.
Releasing him creates just under $2 million of salary cap space, but the move appears to be just as much of a football decision than a financial one. Woodhead turned 33 earlier this year and he’s missed 35 games to injuries over the past four years.
With Kenneth Dixon expected to be back healthy and Alex Collins and Buck Allen both returning, it wasn’t clear how big of a role Woodhead would have going forward.
Woodhead is one of six active players in the NFL to have at least 15 rushing and 15 receiving touchdowns. In parts of nine NFL seasons with four different teams, he’s racked up 4,936 yards from scrimmage. In 2015, he led all NFL running backs in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
The Ravens believed that Woodhead would be a great safety valve for quarterback Joe Flacco and a weapon on both third downs and in the red zone. They signed him despite Woodhead missing 13 games with a broken fibula in 2014 and 14 games with a torn ACL in 2016.
After joining the Ravens, Woodhead said he was healthy and energized. But he missed a chunk of the preseason with a hamstring injury. He then aggravated the injury on the team’s first offensive drive of the season.
Woodhead spent nearly two months on injured reserve before he was activated before the Ravens’ Week 11 game against the Green Bay Packers. He caught five balls for 21 yards in that game, but the Ravens struggled to get him consistently involved the rest of the way and Woodhead didn’t do a whole lot with the ball in his hand.
He didn’t have more than 45 all-purpose yards in any game this season. He averaged four yards per carry and just 6.1 yards per reception and his longest play all year went for 22 yards.