Second Phase Of Free Agency Is Here. Time For Ozzie Newsome To Pounce?

NFL teams went into the first week of free agency with money to blow.

The first 55 free-agent contracts handed out by NFL teams totaled more than $1 billion, according to the contract-monitoring service Spotrac.

But while teams doled out all that cash, the Ravens held onto their pennies.

They waited quietly on the sidelines as some of their key players found new homes for reported big money. Wide receiver Torrey Smith went cross-country to San Francisco on a $40 million contract. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee cashed in with a $38 million deal. The Ravens even dealt veteran defender Haloti Ngata to Detroit in exchange for draft picks and relief on his $16 million cap hit.

Baltimore's biggest news from the first few days of free agency was a three-year deal with running back Justin Forsett reportedly worth $9 million, significantly less than some of the deals other running backs signed on the market. They also added safety Kendrick Lewis, re-signed defensive linemen Chris Canty and Lawrence Guy, and locked up some restricted free agents.

The Ravens have established a model of taking a prudent, cautious approach to free agency. And allowing the dust to settle from the initial spending spree has served General Manager Ozzie Newsome well throughout his tenure. 

"The Ravens just do free agency smarter than almost everyone else," The MMQB’s Peter King wrote. "They do it by mostly sitting out the early days and allowing bottom-feeding teams to spend the silly money."

Now that the NFL has moved into the second week of free agency, Newsome may become more active, based on his history. The Ravens also now have some money to spend because of the Ngata trade and the reported restructuring of cornerback Lardarius Webb's deal.

Some of Baltimore's best signings in recent years have come at a bargain later in the process.

Here are some key signings from the past four years that Newsome made at least a week into free agency:

  • Forsett (2014): started 14 games last season, earned Pro Bowl honor
  • TE Owen Daniels (2014): started 13 games after Dennis Pitta was injured
  • S Will Hill (2014): started 8 games in 2014 after serving suspension
  • S Darian Stewart (2014): started 14 games in 2014
  • OLB Elvis Dumervil (2013): set Ravens' single season sack record in 2014, earned Pro Bowl honor
  • LB Daryl Smith (2013): full-time starter last 2 years, replaced legend Ray Lewis
  • CB Corey Graham (2012): Played in 32 games during 2-year stint, key INTs in Super Bowl XLVII run
  • WR Jacoby Jones (2012): earned Pro Bowl nod in 2012, scored key touchdowns in Super Bowl XLVII run, earned reputation as one of NFL's most-dangerous returners
  • S Bernard Pollard (2012): started 29 games in 2-year stint, starter in Super Bowl XLVII playoff run
  • OT Bryant McKinnie (2011): Started all 16 games in 2011, starter in Super Bowl XLVII playoff run
  • FB Vonta Leach (2011): three-year starter in Baltimore, two-time Pro Bowler

Newsome and the Ravens will look to add more names to that list in the coming weeks. The team still has needs at wide receiver, tight end and cornerback, and Newsome stressed at the "State of the Ravens" press conference last month that he'll be looking for players across the board.

"We want to build as strong a football team as we can build," Newsome said last month.

With the new league year starting in two weeks, take a look back at some of the best Ravens' signings from over the years.

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