When the Ravens went into the offseason, they had a plan in place to address a variety of needs on their roster.
They wanted to strengthen the middle of the defensive line, bring in another safety, and possibly add a pass rusher to pair with Terrell Suggs.
The plan worked out perfectly, as the Ravens signed defensive linemen Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, safety Michael Huff and outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil. All four of those players were released by their former teams, and the Ravens pounced when they became available.
The Ravens put themselves in a favorable position by clearing up salary cap space, but also benefited from a little fortune to see big names unexpected hit the market.
"I think luck is involved in everything," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. "But did some things fall our way that we probably didn't anticipate when we put our plan together? Yes it did."
Newsome knows the NFL landscape as well as any NFL executive, but even he couldn't have predicted Dumervil would hit the open market. The former Bronco is one of the elite pass rushers in the game, and he only became available following a bizarre fax fiasco between the team and his agent, which forced the Broncos to cut him.
Once Dumervil was released, the Ravens reached out to him almost immediately and started the negotiating process. A week later, they signed him to a five-year contract.
The move has been regarded*by many pundits *as arguably the steal of free agency.
"For Dumervil to come available, we never would have thought that was going to happen," Newsome said.
Newsome pointed to Huff as another player the Ravens didn't expect to become a free agent. The eight-year veteran was released by Oakland as part of a salary-cup purge, and the Ravens signed him to a three-year contract.
Adding Huff gave the defense a proven starter to step in for Ed Reed, and Huff also fits with the evolution of the NFL game.
"You talk about getting players like that because our game is changing and you need more athletic guys out on the field," Newsome said. "To be able to get a guy like Michael Huff, who played corner against us last year, who is a really good safety and can go out there and match up against the Gronkowskis, the Hernandezes, and the Gates, but also can play back in the back end, you just don't know how important that is."
Overall, the moves in free agency have been part of a roster overhaul to add quality younger, faster players specifically on the defensive side of the ball.
Newsome is seeing that plan to fruition, and is more than happy to get a little luck along the way.
"When we put our plan together, we knew what we needed," Newsome said. "We just didn't know who the names were going to be that were going to fulfill those spots."