The Baltimore Ravens re-signed wide receiver and return specialist De’Anthony Thomas on Saturday, according to the team’s official Twitter account. Nothing on the financial side is known yet, however, we do know that the Ravens only gave Thomas a one-year deal. The Ravens are not guaranteeing Thomas a spot on the roster with a one-year deal, and it’s expected that Baltimore will sign other return specialists to compete with Thomas this summer.
We have signed WR/RS De'Anthony Thomas to a one-year deal. pic.twitter.com/TPLY8k30Fn
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) March 14, 2020
Thomas started his NFL career in 2014 when he was drafted in the fourth round by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was released by the Chiefs and signed by the Ravens in 2019.
After joining the Ravens, Thomas took over as the main kick and punt returner for the Ravens, but according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, “Thomas struggled to provide a consistent spark.” The Baltimore Ravens ranked 30th in the NFL in average yards per kickoff return with 18.3. Hensley notes that this is the only time in franchise history the Ravens finished under 20th place. The Ravens also only made it past the 20-yard line on kick returns 63% of the time last season, which ranks 28th in the NFL.
The Ravens faired better in the punt return category though. Thomas averaged 7.2 yards per return on 13 punt returns, which would make him 11th best in the NFL at punt returns (if his Chiefs stats are not factored in).
Thomas touched the ball just once outside of special teams. An expanded role in the offense could help him make the 2020 roster, as it would be imprudent for the Ravens to keep him as just a punt returner. However, if Thomas shows significant improvement as a returner in training camp, he could successfully defend his position, but he will face stiff competition. The Ravens are sure to bring in other returners to find the best option, as Baltimore, the team most dedicated to special teams in the NFL, will not tolerate a lagging unit any longer.