Eleven days ago, the Baltimore Ravens agreed to a deal with former Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers. The former 2012 first-round draft pick was set to sign a three year, $30 million contract with the Ravens, immediately making the Ravens’ defensive line one of the best in the National Football League.
That was eleven days ago, today, Michael Brockers is on the other side of the country, back with the Los Angeles Rams.
So what happened?
Well, as it turns out, Michael Brockers suffered a high ankle sprain last year, and the Ravens (because of coronavirus) were not able to evaluate him. This is a significant issue for a lot of teams, and one that will probably affect the draft too. Without the ability to conduct individual physicals, underlying health issues may be overlooked.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec was on top of the Brockers story from start to finish. He began to report on Wednesday that the Ravens were starting to hesitate on Michael Brockers. The team was reportedly involved in talks with free agent Ndamukong Suh because of concerns about Brockers. The Ravens were still expected to sign Brockers on Wednesday, but by Friday morning, Brockers was gone.
Why did Ravens have interest in Ndamumkong Suh? One possible reason is a recent physical performed by an independent doctor turned up concerns about DT Michael Brockers' ankle, per sources. Brockers sustained a high-ankle sprain late last year.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) March 25, 2020
The Ravens are now at a disadvantage because other defensive tackles, like Suh, are off the market. One name that is flying around in the wake of the Brockers fiasco is Shelby Harris. The former Broncos’ 2014 seventh-round draft pick had a solid career with Denver. He played in 48 games since 2017, and he started every game of 2019. During the 2019 season, Harris accumulated 6 sacks, 28 solo tackles, 21 combined tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 6 quarterback hits, 9 pass deflections, and one forced fumble. Spotrac.com estimates that Harris would command a $12.3 million annual salary, but since Harris has been on the market for almost two weeks, one has to imagine he could take less money. A deal similar to the one Baltimore offered Brockers, 3 years, $30 million might entice Harris.
Another option is to add another edge rusher first, like Jadeveon Clowney or Everson Griffen. This would not address the hole on the defensive line, but it would improve the Ravens’ defense elsewhere. This may be the best option to bolster the defense if the Ravens think that no great options still exist on the market at the defensive line. Signing Clowney or Griffen would likely take a significant portion of Baltimore’s remaining cap space though. The Ravens could recuperate some of that cap space by either trading Matthew Judon or signing him to a long-term extension that spreads his money out over a longer period of time.
This is not the first time the Ravens lost a player after agreeing to a deal in principle. In 2018, Baltimore offered former Redskins wide receiver Ryan Grant a $29 million deal, but the team was forced to nullify the contract after Grant failed his physical with the Ravens. Grant went on to sign with the Indianapolis Colts.