The Dolphins have made it clear they’re not signing free-agent fullback Vonta Leach prior to the start of training camp.
The Giants only offered him a one-year deal at the veteran minimum ($925,000).
In Baltimore, the Ravens have offered Leach a $2 million base salary with $1 million of incentives according to ESPN‘s Chris Mortensen. Apparently, the Ravens offer seems to be the best on the table, with Leach and the Dolphins never even discussing money according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
It seems wise for Leach to accept the Ravens’ offer, but at this point in training camp, do the Ravens really need him?
Chances are, Leach is likely heading back to Baltimore, if roster moves made by the organization prior to the start of camp are any indication, according to Russell Street Report‘s salary cap specialist, Brian McFarland. McFarland tweeted:
“Coincidence? Vonta Leach apparently close to decision to sign – Ravens an option. Yesterday, Ravens released a WR & now have 1 open Roster spot.”
“Teams usually don’t release a rookie before 1st day of camp, except to open roster spot for someone else. Perhaps, just coincidence or ….”
With Leach off of the Ravens books and all of their rookies signed, the team currently sits at $5.299 million under the salary cap according to McFarland. The Ravens certainly have the money to bring Leach back but reducing their cap number by $2 million isn’t likely the wisest move for the franchise.
A major hole remains at wide receiver as the Ravens look to replace Anquan Boldin, traded during the offseason to the 49ers for a sixth-round pick. Given that the Ravens need to allocate a few million dollars during the season to account for potential injuries, they will likely not be left with the option of signing a more notable free agent name like Brandon Lloyd or Austin Collie if Leach’s contract goes back on the books at the reported number.
The best option for the Ravens would be to make a trade as they did in 2011 for wide receiver Lee Evans. In hindsight, the trade turned out to be a disaster, but it was impossible for Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome to know that Evans would get hurt in training camp and go on to have the biggest drop in franchise history, costing the Ravens a berth in the Super Bowl.
Surrendering a draft pick is almost a necessity to bring in an impact player to help reigning Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco and complement wide receiver Torrey Smith. The Ravens are relying on Jacoby Jones to step up into the #2 receiver role, which many fans are uncomfortable with. Adding to that feeling is that training camp hasn’t gotten off to an ideal start for him as he failed his preliminary conditioning test, much to the disgust of head coach John Harbaugh.
While most of the Ravens fan base loves Leach, there are far greater needs at this point. The only major benefit the Ravens would likely see with Leach in offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell’s system is helping to minimize the damage done to the body of running back Ray Rice. Still, that appears to be a gamble the Ravens are willing to take, judging by their recent actions.
The Ravens addressed their fullback need by drafting Kyle Juszczyk out of Harvard in the fourth round (130th overall). Juszczyk is taller than Leach and is pretty muscular as well. He’ll be able to block for running backs but it’s unfair to expect him to bulldoze players as we’ve grown accustomed to with Leach.
For my money, I’m taking Juszczyk in Caldwell’s system and saving that money to upgrade the wide receiver position. Bringing Leach back is the popular decision in Baltimore, but given the financial complications if he is signed for anything higher than the veteran minimum, which could severely handicap the team during a time of need in another offensive position, they may be better off moving on without him.
For another perspective on the topic of Vonta Leach CLICK HERE.