After beginning year slowly, running back Forsett released
Veteran started 3 games, then was benched Sunday
Two days after deactivating Justin Forsett and one day after coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal about Forsett’s future, the Ravens released the veteran running back.
Two years ago, Forsett was a highly respected voice in the l ocker room who helped the franchise overcome the public sting associated with Ray Rice’s domestic violence incident in February 2014. Now he is a free agent eligible to sign with any team.
Tuesday’s move seemed inevitable after Forsett, who started the first three games this season but was ineffective, was Justin Forsett benched for Terrance West in Sunday’s 28-27 loss to the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium. It marked Forsett’s first healthy scratch since Sept. 7, 2008 — the first game in his rookie year with the Seattle Seahawks.
Forsett, 30, did not return a request seeking comment but posted on Twitter to thank Baltimore for the past three years.
“Baltimore will always have a special place in my heart. Love y’all & thank u for the amazing support over the years,” he wrote.
Forsett’s spot on the team’s 53-man active roster appeared tenuous after Harbaugh was asked Monday about the running back’s future.
“Justin Forsett is a highly respected,
highly valued guy in my eyes and the eyes of all of us,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a competitive world that we’re in. It’s a competitive league, a competitive sport, and he knows that as well as anybody. It doesn’t diminish him in any way. It enhances him in terms of how you handle it. We’ll just have to see. All of those personnel things are all to be determined. You can’t say anything about where anything is going to go. You just don’t know. None of us have that ability to see into the future. So we’ll see how it plays out.”
Forsett told the team’s website that the decision to part ways was mutual after he talked to general manager Ozzie Newsome.
“I felt like my opportunity here was closing,” Forsett said. “I’m at a phase in my career where I don’t want to sit; I want to play. I have a lot of football left in me.”
The release caps an up-and-down two-month period for Forsett, who had seemingly resurrected his career in Baltimore. After bouncing around with the Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, Forsett signed a oneyear deal April 4, 2014, to join the Ravens.
He played 16 games that season (including 14 starts) and led the team in rushing yards (1,266), carries (235) and touchdown runs (eight). That performance earned him a three-year extension worth $9 million. At the time, Forsett joked that it was comforting to get a longer commitment from the Ravens, who “put a ring on it,” he said.
His 2015 season was shortened by a broken arm that sidelined him for the final six games of the season. But he still led the offense in rushing with 641 yards and 151 attempts.
OnSept. 3, the Ravens released him as part of the organization’s roster cuts to get down to 53 players. However, the move was more of a procedural one, and the team planned to re-sign him all along, making it official Sept. 5.
Forsett opened the season as the starter. However, he gained just 98 yards on 31 carries in the first three games and did not appear to have the quickness to make tacklers miss or the burst to run between the tackles.
West (Towson University, Northwestern High) started in Forsett’s place Sunday and rushed for a career-high 113 yards and one touchdown.
Buck Allen, a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, was active Sunday for the first time this season, and carried the ball three times for 13 yards, and caught two passes for 15 yards.
The Ravens are also expecting the return of rookie Kenneth Dixon. The fourth-round pick led the team in rushing in the preseason before suffering a strained MCL in his left knee in the third game of the preseason Aug. 27.
Dixon has made progress from the injury, practicing fully Friday after two consecutive days of limited participation. He is expected to make his NFL debut Sunday against the Washington Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium.
Forsett’s departure would seem to cement West as the starting running back. But Harbaugh would not make that official Monday.
“I’m not going to say that,” he said. “I’m not going to get into all that. I just think that’s great to write about, but for us, it’s nothing for us to waste any energy on. We’re going to put the guys out there that are playing well. Our guys know this: If you’re playing hard, you’re playing smart, you’re playing fundamentally sound, and you’re productive, you’ve got a chance being out there again because everybody’s counting on everybody else to get the job done. If one of those things falls down, then you leave the door open for another guy to get their opportunity.”
It is not immediately clear what the Ravens will do with Forsett’s roster spot, but one option is using it to activate tight end Darren Waller from the suspended list. Waller served a four-game ban for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. The team has until Oct. 10 to decide what to do with Waller.
The club also worked out safety Shamiel Gary. Gary played in four games with the Miami Dolphins last season.
Justin Forsett hangs on to the ball as Bills defenders gang up on him in the opener Sept. 11. Forsett had just 98 rushing yards on 31 carries this season.