OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens took a hit when Nick Boyle went down with a season-ending knee injury Week 10 against the Patriots.
Boyle is widely regarded as one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. The setback also left the Ravens with only one true tight end — Mark Andrews — on the 53-man roster.
Pat Ricard was able to transition from fullback to tight end and was effective. However, the Ravens will look to add depth at that position either through free agency or in the upcoming draft.
The Ravens maintained some depth by re-signing Eric Tomlinson to a one-year deal in February. Tomlinson was signed when Boyle was sidelined and was a key blocker, playing in 123 snaps over six games.
"It was a different room, it was a different situation this year, and I think the coaches did an awesome job of using the personnel that we had to make us as successful as possible," Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. "We’ll look at personnel, we’ll look at free agency, we’ll look at the Draft, and certainly, we’re very much a tight end-centric offense.
"So, if there is a tight end there available in the Draft, or somebody else, if somebody else happens to fall to us in free agency, we would certainly look at that as a possibility."
The Ravens added a pair of undrafted rookies — Jacob Breeland and Eli Wolf — to the roster but they each battled injuries last season.
Breeland was placed on the non-football injury list and that could have a big impact on the final roster. He has a huge upside after a stellar career at Oregon where he was just the eighth tight end to surpass 1,000 career receiving yards. Breeland had 74 receptions for 1,225 yards and 13 touchdowns over his career.
Wolf was placed on the practice squad/injured list on Nov. 3. He signed a reserve/futures contract with the team in January.
Wolf played in all 14 games, starting in the final two for Georgia. He finished the 2019 season with 13 receptions for 194 receiving yards and one touchdown and was awarded co-winner of the Offensive Newcomer of the Year.
The Ravens like the upside of both of those players and they could make an impact next season.
"Breeland is a possibility. Wolf is a possibility," DeCosta said. "They are both young players, [and] they’ll have a chance to compete to be the third guy this year or fourth guy – whatever that might be."
In January, Boyle agreed to a two-year, $13-million contract extension through the 2023 season. Baltimore gets some relief because Boyle's cap number falls from $7.8 million to $5.8 million next season.
The Ravens could also add a tight end in the free-agent market, There are several playmakers available, most notably Hunter Henry (Los Angeles Chargers), Jonnu Smith (Tennessee Titans) and Gerald Everett (Los Angeles Rams).
However, those players would be costly and Baltimore has other needs with the offensive line and at wide receiver.
One way or another, look for the tight ends to have a bigger role in the Ravens' offense next season.
"We know that [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] can take those tight ends and really go to the lab and find some ways to use these guys to make us more productive on offense," DeCosta said.