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Ravens Have History Of Bargain Signings

Posted Mar 15, 2013

Baltimore's patient approach in free agency has turned up gems in years past.


The Ravens are in the first wave of free agency.

Within the first week of the market’s doors opening, free agents hopscotch around the country and ink dries on fat contracts.

Historically, it’s been a time when the Ravens have seen some of their top players go elsewhere as they are again this offseason with outside linebacker Paul Kruger, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, cornerback Cary Williams and wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

While fans want to know what General Manager Ozzie Newsome has planned for his reported cap savings, a look at the franchise’s track record shows some of the most prudent moves are made in the second or third waves of free agency later in the offseason.

The Ravens have been active generally in late March once much of the action settles down, then again in August or even September when veterans are cut from their teams during or after training camp.

Here’s a look at some of the Ravens’ top bargain signings the past three years:

CB Corey Graham
Signed:
March 23, 2012
Reported Contract: 2 years, $3.7 million
2012 Stats: 16 games, 8 starts, 60 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Graham was originally tabbed as a special teams signing, but turned into much more. His ability to step in as a starter when Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith went down with injuries was crucial. His two interceptions in the AFC divisional game in Denver were both plays of the game.

WR/RS Jacoby Jones
Signed: May 8, 2012
Reported Contract: 2 years, $7 million
2012 Stats: 30 receptions, 406 yards, 1 touchdown; 3 return touchdowns, 30.7-yard kick return average
Jones developed into a huge piece of the Ravens, particularly during the playoffs. He made possibly the three most memorable plays of the Ravens’ postseason with his 70-yard touchdown catch in Denver and 56-yard reception and 108-yard kickoff return in Super Bowl XLVII. He added explosion to the Ravens special teams and offense.

FB Vonta Leach
Signed: August 2, 2011
Reported Contract: 3 years, $11 million
2012 Stats: 9 carries, 32 yards, 1 touchdown; 21 receptions, 143 yards
After the lockout was over, and the smoke cleared, the Ravens got the best fullback in the game for less than an average of $4 million per year. Since then, running back Ray Rice and Leach have been voted to the Pro Bowl each of the past two years. Leach has grown into more than just a bulldozing blocker; he’s also a valuable short-yardage weapon in the passing game and an offensive locker room leader.

SS Bernard Pollard
Signed: August 4, 2011
Reported Contract: 2 years, $2.735 million
2012 Stats: 98 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception
Pollard wasn’t an immediate starter when he arrived. He was signed and originally played behind Tom Zbikowski. But Pollard quickly showed he had the makeup of a true Raven on the field and became a starter by Week 4. He started every game since then except three last season due to broken ribs. The hard hitter brought physicality to the back end of the defense.

RB Ricky Williams
Signed: August 8, 2011
Reported Contract: 2 years, $2.5 million
2011 Stats: 16 games, 108 rushes, 444 yards, 2 touchdowns; 13 receptions, 83 yards
Williams was a late addition to back up Ray Rice and he turned into a good change-of-pace back who helped keep Rice fresh. Rice said Williams was the best thing for his career at the time and coaches raved about the veteran. Williams only stayed one year before retiring, but he fit in well in Baltimore.

OT Bryant McKinnie
Signed: August 24, 2011
Reported Contract: 2 years, $7.5 million
2012 Stats: Started all four playoff games
Baltimore brought in an overweight McKinnie to fill a need at left tackle. Teammates Ed Reed and Ray Lewis helped him get in shape and McKinnie started all 16 games in his first year with the team. He lost his starting gig in 2012 but reclaimed it in the playoffs, helping stabilize the offensive line for its run to the Super Bowl.

DE Cory Redding
Signed: March 22, 2010
Reported Contract: 2 years, $6 million
2011 Stats: 15 games, 11 starts, 43 tackles, 4.5 sacks
Redding was a veteran who had disappointed in his one year in Seattle. He rejuvenated his career in Baltimore and became a respected voice in the locker room. A tough, physical player in the trenches, he was a valuable veteran who stuffed the run and could get to the quarterback. The Ravens hope this year’s signing of Chris Canty yields similar results.

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Signed: September 7, 2010
Reported Contract: 1 year, $855,000
2010 Stats: 16 games, 30 receptions, 398 yards, 3 touchdowns
A very late addition, Houshmandzadeh wasn’t the same player he was in years past but he was a successful third wideout in Baltimore. He caught the game-winning touchdown pass in a comeback win in Pittsburgh. He filled his role as a complementary piece well, until he dropped the final pass in Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

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