Marshal Yanda has joined some special company.
The veteran offensive lineman has established himself as a cornerstone piece of Baltimore's offense, and last week the Ravens rewarded him with the rare third contract. He joins Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Jonathan Ogden as players who Ozzie Newsome has signed to third contracts.
The four-year extension shows the Ravens value Yanda as one of the franchise's core players, and the deal will likely allow him to spend his entire career in Baltimore.
"To be able to stay here, to be able to hopefully end on my own terms, it was awesome," Yanda said. "It would be something special, that's for sure. They drafted me here, and to be able to stay here and to retire here would be awesome."
Staying with one team is rare in today's sports era. Salary caps limit what teams can spend, and players can often get bigger paydays when they go to the highest bidder on the open market. Even Ring of Honor members Ed Reed, Todd Heap and Jamal Lewis ultimately left Baltimore for the final years of their careers.
Yanda's deal, reportedly worth $32 million, will keep him in purple and black through the 2019 season. He would be 35 years old if he plays the length of the contract, and he clearly signed the deal intending to be a Raven for life.
"You obviously just take it one day at a time, but if I stay healthy, gosh, it'd be nice to play the whole thing out," Yanda said. "I feel like I can do that, as long as I don't have any knee, or ankle, or shoulder [injuries], I feel like I can do that. I feel like if I'm in a groove and I can just keep busting my tail every day, and I feel pretty confident I can do that."
The nine-year veteran has been arguably the Ravens' best player the last several years, and even one of the best in the NFL. He's made four-straight Pro Bowls, and has been an All-Pro selection three of those seasons. Suggs is the only home-grown player on the roster with more Pro Bowl appearances.
If Yanda continues to play at his recent level, he will put himself in the Hall of Fame conversation.
Yanda's performance on the field, and workmanlike attitude off it, embodies what the Ravens want in their players. He's one of the team's toughess, missing just two games the last seven years despite doing the grunt work in the trenches.
"He speaks to what we believe we're all about as an organization," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's a very deserving player."
Yanda's team-first attitude has been on display in the days since he signed his contract. He didn't want to answer questions about the big deal after Sunday's game because he didn't think it was right after a loss. Even when he talked about it Thursday, he was somewhat bashful about celebrating his own success while the team is sitting at 1-5.
"It's just tough," he said. "Obviously you sign the contract, but then you go to work and we're fighting, we're grinding, so it's one of those things where I'm excited about it, but also we're in the fight right now."
Locking up Yanda again gives the Ravens stability on their offensive line, and eliminates one of the biggest contractual questions before the offseason. He said on multiple occasions he never wanted to leave, and now the Ravens know they'll have one of their franchise players in town for the long haul.
"Right now I'm just taking care of today," Yanda said. "That's a ways down the road, but still, like I said, I'm very excited about it."