Derek Wolfe wanted to return to Baltimore and the Ravens wanted him back.
The two sides made it happen Tuesday, agreeing to terms on a three-year deal on the second day of open negotiations across the NFL. The deal is worth $12 million, per The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec.
Wolfe signed a one-year deal with Baltimore last offseason and made it clear that he wanted to turn it into an extended stay. His play made it happen, as Wolfe was a strong piece of the Ravens' defensive front.
Wolfe, 31, played in 14 games and made eight starts last season. He tied a career-high with 51 tackles. Though his sack production dropped to just one after logging seven the year prior in Denver, Wolfe helped set up his teammates and was a force against the run.
Wolfe was especially critical to Baltimore's defensive success when fellow starting defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams were both out with injuries/COVID-19.
Now Wolfe is an even more important part of the edge of Baltimore's defense considering the reported losses of outside linebackers Matthew Judon (New England) and Yannick Ngakoue (Las Vegas). Those are considerable subtractions, but Baltimore at least has its "Monstars" defensive line intact.
A second-round pick of the Broncos in 2012, Wolfe played his first eight seasons in Denver prior to signing with the Ravens as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. But Head Coach John Harbaugh, who remembered interviewing Wolfe before he was drafted, felt like he was always meant to be a Raven. After the Ravens' playoff win in Tennessee, Harbaugh called Wolfe "one of the best leaders I've ever seen."
"When he came for his visit we really hit it off, and I think we both thought it was going to happen," Harbaugh recalled. "In the back of my mind, after you watch him all those years, I was always kind of hoping we'd get him here. You see what a great fit he is."
After the season, Wolfe said he would "love" to stay in Baltimore.
"I feel like I have proven myself," Wolfe said. "When things got tough and we lost some guys, I was playing 60 snaps a game and playing at a high level, I thought. I know the sack numbers aren't there, but that's not what this defense requires me to do – is to get sacks. This defense requires me to stop the run and create opportunities for other people to get sacks. So, I feel like I've done that, and it's in their hands."
The Ravens' move to keep Wolfe once again shows Baltimore's commitment to keep its own free agents without breaking the bank. Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser was also retained with a four-year deal on Tuesday, and the Ravens officially announced deals with outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and inside linebacker Chris Board.