OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens have signed pending unrestricted free agent tight end Nick Boyle to a three-year contract, the latest in a series of moves by rookie general manager Eric DeCosta during a busy offseason.
Boyle has 75 catches over four seasons without a touchdown. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder ranked sixth on the team last season with 23 receptions — 11 fewer than Ravens rookie tight end Mark Andrews.
Boyle's value to the Ravens, however, transcends catches and scores.
"I would say he's the best blocking tight end in the league," coach John Harbaugh said. "There's no question in my mind about that."
Boyle signed the contract late Wednesday night rather than enter the market next week as a free agent.
Appearing at a press conference Thursday wearing an untucked polo shirt and jeans and with his wife, Kristina, Boyle said his goal was to return to the Ravens at the right price.
"I didn't want to go to another team," Boyle said. "We love it here. As long as I thought (the offer) was fair, just come back here."
Harbaugh said: "We wanted Nick and Nick wanted to be here. Both sides did a great job of making that happen."
Boyle was suspended twice during his first two seasons for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, but played in 31 of 32 games over the last two years.
The 26-year-old Boyle was a 2015 fifth-round draft pick out of Delaware. He will team with Andrews and Hayden Hurst to provide protection and over-the-middle targets for second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"I'd be hard-pressed to think of a better tight end group in the league right now," Harbaugh said.
The move comes during an offseason in which DeCosta has already worked a trade that would send quarterback Joe Flacco to Denver; cut six-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle; cut restricted free agent running back Alex Collins; and re-signed defensive back Tavon Young.
"We knew even during the (2018) season that we have a lot to do," Harbaugh said. "We have a lot of young players that we want to keep, veteran leaders that was going to be a different scenario for each guy."
That includes Weddle. It was not an easy decision, cutting a player with his talent and leadership, but the Ravens desperately needed salary cap space.
"When the picture starts to unfold for Eric and the organization, it starts to become clear how you're going to manage your resources," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes it's unfortunate in what you have to do."
That won't be the last tough call for DeCosta this offseason. In the weeks ahead, he must decide whether to sign unrestricted free agent linebackers Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Za'Darius Smith; quarterback Robert Griffin III; and wide receiver John Brown.