Next man up: Kyle Juszczyk
Photo courtesy of CSN Baltimore
Likely for salary cap reasons, the Ravens made the move some considered long overdue. It became official today that the Ravens have released veteran fullback Vonta Leach, after the two sides couldn’t come to agreement on a reduced contract for the31-year old. Leach was named an All-Pro each of the last three seasons and made a name for himself as lead blocker for undrafted RB Arian Foster in Houston. His success prompted the Ravens to make him the highest paid fullback in the NFL. Fullbacks are a dying breed in the league, but Leach is no doubt the best, and he’ll be picked up be somebody.
Tell us your opinion, and discuss this move on our message board.
The move increases the amount of cap space that the Ravens have up to about $6.7 million according to spotrac.com. That is a decent amount that can be carried over toward next years salary cap when some high profile guys like Flacco, Suggs, and Ngata will be due significant raises. It also opens the door for acquiring a veteran receiver if the staff feels as though no one will emerge from the youth at WR.
Moving forward, a lot of attention will be paid toward fourth round draft pick out of Harvard, Kyle Juszczyk. With Leach on the squad it was a little unclear what role he would play. Third tight end, special teams, had to think a backup fullback would have been a wasted draft pick, right? It’s now clear what role the rookie will play as the lone fullback on the team. What are some reasonable expectations of Juszczyk that won’t leave us saying, “I miss Leach?”
Vonta Leach was a stay-at-home pass blocker on 53 snaps last season. Only five times did his man beat him, but not bad enough to give up the sack. A pass blocking efficiency of 92.3 measured on a scale of 0-100. In 2011, on 54 pass blocks, he allowed just one sack, and was only beaten by his man twice. Good for a 96.8 rating. Houston didn’t use Leach as a pass blocker often, 20 times in 09’ and 29 times in 10’.
Big shoes to fill from a pass blocking stand point, and we’ll keep a close eye on those numbers as the season progresses. At this point, the numbers in the receiving game and run game are too small to compare. Given Juszczyk’s track record at Harvard where he exceled in receiving, any kind of contribution in that department will be a nice added bonus to this offense.
Assuming Matt Elam is a starter, and depending on how Arthur Brown and Brandon Williams progress in camps, the Ravens first four picks in the draft could all be week 1 starters. Not sure if that has ever been done before.