The Baltimore Ravens announced on Friday that the NFL has suspended offensive lineman James Hurst for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances for the first four games of the 2020 season. The National Football League has not released the nature of the infraction, and unless Hurst or a Baltimore Ravens representative discloses that information, the public may never know what caused it.
Hurst, the former undrafted free agent, signed with the Baltimore Ravens as a rookie in 2014. He signed a 4-year extension with the Baltimore Ravens in 2018. Hurst’s main allure to the Ravens is his versatility. The former UNC Tarheel has played both as a guard and tackle during his professional career. Hurst’s ability has always been questioned though, as many have felt disappointed by his at-times underwhelming performance. Hurst had the chance to start at left guard this season but lost the contest to Bradley Bozeman.
If this infraction is the final straw, the Baltimore Ravens can cut James Hurst to save $5.25 million in cap space in 2020, and another $5.25 million in 2021 according to Spotrac.com. The savings would be less, but because Hurst violated NFL policy, he forfeits all guarantees on his contract.
If the Ravens move on from Hurst, who started two games at left tackle in 2019, Baltimore will need to find another versatile lineman to fill his depth-providing role on the offensive line. The Baltimore Ravens signed Andre Smith, the former Bengals offensive tackle, to a contract extension last week. Smith was signed to the roster in January, and his extension signals that the Ravens will at least entertain the idea of moving on from Hurst. Baltimore does not need to make a decision soon, so Hurst will probably stay on the roster throughout the offseason, but to think he is not in a positional battle is flat-out wrong. Hurst was already on the roster bubble before this incident and is in even more murky waters now.