New safety Michael Huff texted with Ed Reed Wednesday night after agreeing to terms with the Ravens.
The two have been buds for a few years, and Huff wanted to make sure Reed knew he wouldn't let him down in Baltimore.
"I told him I would carry on his legacy and carry on the tradition of great safeties in Baltimore," Huff said Thursday after signing his three-year contract. "I'm definitely going to go out there and hold up my end."
Huff, 30, has the distinction of stepping into the position vacated by a Ravens legend. Reed held down the free safety spot for 11 years and became one of Baltimore's most beloved sports figures.
But while Huff told Reed he would do his best to maintain his standard, Huff also wants to build his own.
"Obviously, Ed is one of the greatest free safeties to play this game, a first-ballot Hall of Famer," he said at his introductory press conference Thursday.
"Me coming in here, I don't really feel like I'm following his footsteps. I'm more kind of starting my own legacy."
There was a chance for Huff to begin his career in Baltimore.
They Ravens were very interested in Huff, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, during the 2006 NFL Draft. Huff ended up going seventh overall to the Oakland Raiders and the Ravens moved up to take defensive tackle Haloti Ngata at No. 12.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome told Huff how much he liked him coming out of college at Texas when the safety signed his contract Thursday.
"Things didn't work out then, but seven years later I'm a Raven," Huff said. "Things happen for a reason."
After seven seasons with the Raiders, Huff was released on March 12 as part of a cost-savings move for Oakland, where he was reportedly set to earn $8 million next season.
Once Reed left for Houston, Huff immediately started thinking about playing for the Ravens.
"I can play that spot, I can come in here and feel that role and hopefully not have any drop-off," Huff thought upon hearing the news.
Huff visited his hometown team, the Dallas Cowboys, earlier this week, but said he knew he wanted to play for the defending Super Bowl champions. After never having a winning season in Oakland, Huff said joining a winner was more important than money or anything else.
Huff saw fellow former Longhorn and current Ravens cornerback Chykie Brown at Texas' pro day on Tuesday. Huff said to Brown, "Let's make it happen." Brown called Ravens Secondary Coach Teryl Austin and put Huff on the line. Huff told Austin he wanted to be a Raven. The next day, he was.
"I'm really excited to have him," Austin said Thursday. "I think the thing that stands out is you look at a guy in the back end who has a lot of range. He is a good tackler coming out of the back end, and he's durable."
The Ravens have re-tooled their defense, especially up front with the additions of pass rusher Elvis Dumervil and defensive linemen Chris Canty and Marcus Spears. Huff, who is strong against the run but most enjoys playing centerfield, is the first step to making over the safety position.
Huff can play free safety, strong safety, cornerback or in the slot, adding another layer of flexibility to the Ravens defense. He notched 71 tackles, two interceptions and a career-high 15 pass deflections last year in Oakland.
"He's going to enable us to keep doing the things on defense that we have been doing and even build on those things," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.