Running Back Ricky Williams Joins Ravens

According to ProFootballTalk, the Ravens have agreed on a two-year contract with veteran running back Ricky Williams.

With Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain gone, the Ravens needed a veteran presence at tailback.

They’ve gotten it with the addition of Ricky Williams.

Per a league source, Williams signed a two-year deal.  It’s worth up to $4 million.

Personally, I really like this move. I was just telling some friends who were with me at Ravens practice on Saturday that I would like to see the team sign the veteran runner. Though he is, at 34, a grandfather as far as NFL running backs go, Williams has proven over the past few seasons in Miami that he can be very effective in a platoon situation. Which is, of course, exactly what he will be entering here in Baltimore with Ray Rice. In addition, he missed all of 2006 and all but one game of 2007 for various…personal reasons.

Williams averaged 4.7 and 4.2 yards per carry in 2009 and 2010, respectively, with the Dolphins. The 4.2 was better than any of Rice (4.0), Willis McGahee (3.8), or Le’Ron McClain (3.0) put up last season. Running behind Vonta Leach is also likely to extend the tread on Williams’ tires a bit.

Ricky, of course, is as well known for his off-the-field eccentricity as he is for his play on the field. Featured in one of my favorite of the ESPN “30 for 30” documentaries, “Run Ricky Run,” Williams nonetheless seems to be at a point in his life and career where all that silliness is behind him.

Now we’re all just waiting to see him in a wedding dress next to John Harbaugh.

Ray Rice and Ricky Williams give the Ravens a formidable 1-2 punch in the backfield. With those two handling the majority of the workload, it will be interesting to see, however, which of the rookie running backs steps up and becomes a viable 3rd-down back this season. If you remember in 2008, McClain and McGahee received the bulk of the carries, while Rice was the change-of-pace/3rd-down guy. Who will be 2011’s version of the 2008 Ray Rice? Anthony Allen? D.J. Berry? Another, as-of-yet-unsigned runner?

Should the unthinkable happen and Ray Rice get seriously injured, Williams will not be able to handle the load of a featured running back, and the Ravens will still be forced to scramble for another option. Regardless, the team’s offense is in a better position today than it was yesterday – or last season for that matter.

The Rice, Williams, Leach combination is an upgrade from Rice, McGahee, McClain.

Let’s hope the next priority is doing something about the center position.


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