Baltimore Ravens: Top 15 free agent signings of all-time

Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /
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Michael McCrary, Baltimore Ravens
Michael McCrary, Baltimore Ravens. Mandatory Credit: Mark Lyons /Allsport /

26. . DE. (1997-02). Michael McCrary. 2. player

The 2000 Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV with a great defense. One of the best pieces of that defense was Michael McCrary. McCrary was brought in 1997 and he rewarded the Ravens with nine sacks that season. The next season was one of the best defensive seasons by a player in Ravens history. McCrary had 14.5 sacks in 1998. McCrary had 71 sacks in his career and 42 of them were with the Ravens.

The Ravens Super Bowl XXXV team had an identity. That defense was unbending and tough, which are the exact adjectives that described McCrary as a football player. McCrary was one of the most complete players of all-time. He has the numbers of an elite pass rusher, but he was just as good against the run. The Ravens defense was always able to stop the run because McCrary always set the edge.

Ray Lewis gets a lot of credit for how imposing he was as a linebacker, but nobody was more physically imposing than McCrary. McCrary came to Baltimore as an established star. He had a good career brewing with the Seattle Seahawks. When he got to Baltimore, McCrary was able to step it up to a completely different level.

Ravens history cannot be written without McCrary. Like Woodson was the veteran leader in the secondary, McCrary was a leader for a mostly young defensive front. Remember that Lewis, Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper were all young players when the team won it all. McCrary was the ultimate weapon for the defense and he was essential in creating the Ravens’ identity.