After a storied 13-year career in Baltimore, Ray Lewis will continue that tenure after the Ravens reached an agreement on a multi-year contract with the linebacker Wednesday afternoon.
"This will allow Ray to finish his career as a Baltimore Raven," said general manager Ozzie Newsome in a statement issued by the team.
Newsome completed negotiations at approximately 4:00 p.m.
Once the contract is completed over the next two weeks, the Ravens will hold a press conference with the linebacker to officially announce the signing after coordinating the travel schedules for owner Steve Bisciotti, Newsome, head coach John Harbaugh and Lewis.
Keeping Lewis is significant because the Ravens lost defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and linebacker Bart Scott to the New York Jets. His presence can help bridge the transition to new coordinator Greg Mattison.
"What a great day for the Ravens," said Harbaugh. "To get the commitment from Ray means so much to the team, to the franchise and to our fans."
Lewis was the Ravens' second-ever draft pick, taken 26th overall after Baltimore selected Jonathan Ogden earlier in the first round.
He went on to become one of the most dominant linebackers to ever play the game, earning two NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors, trips to 10 Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player trophy.
Lewis, 33, is coming off another stellar campaign. He started all 16 games for the Ravens and led the team with 160 tackles. Lewis also posted 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 12 passes defensed on the NFL's No. 2 defense of 2008.
There was some speculation as to whether Lewis would actually return to the Ravens.
He was linked to the Jets because of the connection with Ryan, but New York immediately signed Scott.
Dallas was also mentioned after Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware said to DallasCowboys.com that Lewis told him he wanted to play for Dallas.
Lewis, however, denied ever making such statements to former teammate and NFL Network analyst Rod Woodson, and the Cowboys brought in linebacker Keith Brooking.
According to Lewis, returning in Baltimore was the best possible scenario.
"From beginning to end as a Raven… Wow! To be with the same team with the same fans for an entire career, that doesn't happen in the NFL," Lewis said. "The bottom line for me is that God always finishes first, and I prayed over this. Over the last six days, I took a backseat and waited to see what would happen. This is part of God's plan, and I couldn't be happier. For me to be here in an area that has become so important to me and my family, that's special, very special.
"I don't think an athlete can have a greater legacy than to be able to stay in one place for an entire career. I feel so fortunate that the Ravens did what they had to do to make this happen. Thank you. My heart is with the Ravens. My heart is with Baltimore and the great fans. What can I say? Here we go!"
And the Ravens will certainly welcome back one of the heartbeats of their locker room, where Lewis' legendary leadership was highlighted.
"He's a great mentor to not only the other young linebackers, but some of the young offensive players," Newsome said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. "I think he did a great job of helping out our quarterback [Joe Flacco] and Ray Rice.
"He has value that goes beyond his production on the football field."
Follow all that goes on at 1 Winning Drive on Twitter.