I got the sense yesterday that the Ravens were finally ready to dive into free agency. It wasn’t much of a sense, and it was based off a flimsy quote from Jameel McClain, but none the less I thought moves might start happening. Today, the Ravens finally broke the silence and have made three moves just this morning, possibly with more coming.
The biggest, and most recent move, having occurred within the last 30 minutes or so, is the resigning of Jameel McClain. I shouldn’t have to tell Ravens fans how big of a signing this is. McClain was essential for not only what he brings to the table as a starter, but for overall roster depth as well. Danelle Elerbe is a fine player in his own right, but that doesn’t mean I want him to be the only ILB besides Ray Lewis on the roster come draft time. McClain has reportedly signed a three year deal, no numbers available at this time. I would assume that the numbers are fairly low because the market has been awful for ILBs and I don’t think McClain was ever all that serious about leaving. I hate to tell this to anyone hoping for a Ray Lewis heir apparent in the form of a rookie draft pick, but Jameel McClain is that player, not Vontaze Burfict or Dont’a Hightower. Jameel is officially the player that will be responsible for defensive assignment check, audibles and etc, when Ray Lewis decides to hang em’ up. That isn’t to say that the Ravens wont draft a player, it might even be Hightower or Burfict, But as of now, Jameel holds the future of the inside LBs for the next three years. I for one, think they are in pretty good hands.
Not long before the news about McClain broke, another Raven was brought back into the fold. Brendon Ayanbadejo resigned with the Ravens early this morning. According to a tweet by BA himself, he will be in “Black n’ Purple for the next three years”. this is another stroke of good news for many of the same reasons that McClain was. BA brings a competent situational player on defense, an excellent coverage LB that is capable of playing the new breed of hybrid TE all by himself and holding his own(go back and watch the AFC Championship game(if you can bear it) and watch what BA did to Gronk and Hernandez, complete dominance). That alone made BA an extremely valuable piece moving forward. When combined with his special teams prowess, this was a no-brainer for the Ravens, BA and Paul Kruger will be used in a rotation to ease the loss of Jarrett Johnson.
BA wasn’t the only special teamer the Ravens signed this morning though. the first signing of the day was elite special teams man Corey Graham, formerly of the Bears. Now, for those of you who don’t know, the Bears have probably the best special teams units in the NFL almost every year. they draft players specifically for the purpose of being special teamers (as opposed to drafting players to play other positions and then using them as special teamers when they aren’t good enough to start like most teams do). It was not a mistake that Devin Hester was drafted by the Bears, nor is it a coincidence that both Brendon Ayenbadejo and now Corey Graham were Bears players that the Ravens stole away in free agency. The Bears special teams are like the Ravens defense, in that, when they have a free agent player, they are highly regarded around the league and scooped up quickly.Graham was the NFCs probowler for special teams last season, after recording 22 tackles and a forced fumble. since 2007 he has 104 special teams tackles. This is another big boost for the Ravens special teams, which quite frankly were atrocious last season. The Ravens are still in need of a return man, but with Ted Ginn Jr off the market, I suspect they will attempt to find on in the mid rounds of the draft. a player like Joe Adams, the WR from Arkansas, might not be a bad option, but the Ravens would likely have to overpay for what he is. Cliff Harris, the CB out of Oregon, could be another bargain option, but he comes with a lot of baggage and was kicked out of Oregon for behavior issues.
The flood gates have opened in Baltimore, Who is next? Only Ozzie Newsome knows.
***UPDATE, 1:50 P.M.**** The Ravens have also signed DB Sean Considine to a 1 year contract.
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