Drake, 28, became one of the top free agent running backs available after the Las Vegas Raiders released him a week ago. The Ravens, who must cut their roster down to 53 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday, could be without projected starter J.K. Dobbins (knee) in Week 1. Gus Edwards, who was placed on reserve/physically unable-to-perform list last week, will miss at least four games.
The Ravens were expected to enter their Sept. 11 season opener against the New York Jets with four running backs on their roster. Given Dobbins’ deliberate rehabilitation and the group’s middling preseason performance, that could change. Dobbins would miss at least four games if he’s placed on injured reserve this week. Veteran Justice Hill (2.0 yards per preseason carry) and sixth-round pick Tyler Badie (2.8 yards per carry), both behind Mike Davis on the depth chart, could also be part of the roster churn.
Drake, a third-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2016, is returning from his own serious injury. He fractured his right ankle in December, and the surgeon who performed the successful surgery told The Athletic that the injury could be “career altering.” Drake played in the Raiders’ first three preseason games, averaging 2.5 yards per carry on 12 attempts.
“I always tell everybody that all broken ankles aren’t the same, but Kenyan had severe ankle injuries on both sides,” said Dr. Norman Waldrop, referring to a left ankle injury Drake suffered at Alabama. “They weren’t just your run-of-the-mill broken ankles; they were pretty severe. … And some players, especially running backs, who rely on explosiveness, you never know if they’ll be able to get it all back.”
Drake, who joined the Raiders in 2021 on a two-year, $11 million deal, had 63 carries for 254 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and two touchdowns last season while adding 30 catches for 291 yards and a score. With projected starter Josh Jacobs and rookie Zamir White headlining a crowded running back room, Drake was released. His $2.5 million base salary is subject to offsets should he sign with the Ravens, meaning his salary cap hit would likely be small.
Drake played in at least 14 games in his first five NFL seasons. He rushed for a career-high 955 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Arizona Cardinals in 2020.
The NFL Network first reported the Ravens’ intentions to sign Drake.