Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome is known for being a patient man.
He was quite active last offseason, however.
With free agency around the corner (opens March 10), let's take a look back at last year's moves.* *
March 5 – Re-signed TE Dennis Pitta to 5-year contractPitta was coming off an injury-shortened 2013 campaign, but his dislocated and fractured hip seemed fully healed and he had once again proven that he could be a top-tier pass-catching tight end. As one of quarterback Joe Flacco's favorite targets and a perfect fit in Gary Kubiak's scheme, Pitta's return was a boon. He began the 2014 season with 16 catches for 125 yards, [comma] but went down with another hip injury in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, ending his season. Now Pitta's future playing football is in doubt, though Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is "cautiously optimistic."
March 12 – Re-signed T Eugene Monroe to 5-year contractThe Ravens let Monroe briefly dip his toe into the free-agent market before snatching him back up again, giving them stability at left tackle for the first time since Jonathan Ogden left. Monroe helped in the offensive line's rebound season, but he personally struggled with injuries that knocked him out of five regular-season games and both playoff contests.
March 13 – Re-signed WR/RS Jacoby Jones to a 5-year contractJones remained one of the league's premier returners, ranking second on kickoffs (30.6 yards) with one touchdown, and tied for ninth on punt returns (9.2 yards). His receiving production trailed off, however, as he fell behind Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown and Michael Campanaro. Jones dropped from 37 catches for 455 yards in 2013 to nine receptions for 131 yards last season.
March 14 – Signed WR Steve Smith Sr. to a 3-year contractAfter the Panthers parted ways with Smith, the Ravens pounced. It was a shrewd move as Smith was the team's leading receiver with 79 catches for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns. He brought fire and swagger to the offense, and was well-received in the locker room. Smith was one of the team's most explosive offensive weapons.
March 17 – Re-signed LB Daryl Smith to a 4-year contract
Baltimore continued bringing back its own free agents by inking the highly productive inside linebacker. Smith was the Ravens' defensive MVP the previous season. In 2014, he paired with rookie C.J. Mosley to give Baltimore a rock-solid foundation inside. Smith had another workhorse season, notching 128 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles and an interception. He also picked off Tom Brady in the playoffs.
March 24 – Signed S Darian Stewart to 1-year contractNewsome scooped up the unrestricted free-agent Stewart, who had a lot of upside that hadn't been shown because of previous injuries in St. Louis. Stewart became a key part of Baltimore's secondary. He started 14 of 16 games and made 37 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble. Stewart also got his hands on a few more passes, but did not bring in the pick. He was part of a secondary that finished 23rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (287.4).
March 26 – Traded for G/C Jeremy Zuttah, signed to 3-year extensionZuttah replaced center Gino Gradkowski as the Ravens' starter, and held up quite well. The team's ground game had a resurgence, jumping to 8th in average rushing yards per game (126.2) and gave up the second-fewest sacks in the league. Zuttah helped unify the group, and did a solid job of protecting inside blitzes, which were a problem a year before.
April 4 – Signed TE Owen Daniels to 1-year contractDaniels was signed to be a key No. 2 tight end behind Pitta, and provided assistance to the offense in picking up Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's system. He was much more than that. After Pitta went down in Week 3, Daniels stepped into the starting job without hesitation. He caught 48 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns, and added eight catches for 111 yards and a score in the playoffs. Now Daniels is again headed for free agency.
April 4 – Signed RB Justin Forsett to 1-year contractMuch in the same vein as Daniels, Forsett was signed to help with the transition to a new offense, since he had experience under Kubiak, and provided solid veteran depth. Instead, Forsett had a Pro Bowl season taking over for starter Ray Rice after he was released by the team. Forsett showed excellent vision, balance and precision in the best season of his career. He ran for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 44 passes for 263 yards. He was an outstanding locker room presence,* *as well.
April 4 – Re-signed NT Terrence Cody to 1-year contractThe Ravens brought Cody back in hopes that he would provide support along the interior of the defensive line. An offseason hip procedure delayed that, however, as Cody was placed on the physically unable to perform list. Cody suited up for just two games and didn't make much of an impact. With Brandon Williams and rookie Timmy Jernigan emerging, Cody fell on the depth chart and was released before his contract expired.