The Ravens said this offseason that improving the running game was going to be their top priority.
Their actions today backed up those words.
Baltimore has agreed to terms with fullback Vonta Leach, according to Leach’s Twitter account. The deal is reportedly for three years and worth $11 million.
“Will be a Raven this year,” Leach wrote on Twitter.
Leach (6-foot, 255-lbs.) was considered the top fullback on the free agent market, and was named a Pro Bowl starter last year. The former Texans battering ram is a prototypical lead blocker; he plays with a smash-mouth mentality and thrives on blowing up defenders.
Don’t confuse Leach with the Ravens’ previous fullback, Le’Ron McClain. McClain has made it known this offseason that he wants to get more carries and hopes to evolve into more of a running back/fullback hybrid.
Leach, on the other hand, has just three carries in seven NFL seasons. He’s strictly a blocking back, and that’s what the Ravens wanted, after averaging just 3.8 yards per carry last season, 28th-best in the league.
In the last week, with apologies to Chris Carr re-signing yesterday, the Ravens have made just two major splashes - re-signing right guard Marshal Yanda, and adding Leach.
Those are clear indications that GM Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh wanted to see those 3.8 yards per carry rise this season.
UPDATE: The Leach deal is now official. Below are comments on the signing from GM Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh.
Newsome: “He’s a Raven-type player. He’s very physical and dedicated to the game. Our running game just got better.”
Harbaugh: “We looked at him since early this offseason, and he was definitely on our ‘wish list.’ Vonta fits the style of offense we are building, and his type of physical play is an addition that fits. We’re looking forward to getting him in here and start mixing him in right away. This is another addition where the coaches can send a big ‘thank you’ to the personnel department.”