Patience Pays Off for Ravens Brass in Day Three of Free Agency
Over the last two days, it seemed as if the sky was falling in Baltimore as the Ravens and their fans saw a mass exodus of the cornerstone and ascending players from the franchise that cashed in on huge deals outside of Charm City. The departure of four-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker CJ Mosley who signed a record-breaking five-year contract with the New York Jets worth $85 million, seven-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs who is the franchises all-time sack leader and the active sack leader in the NFL who signed a one-year deal with his home town team in the Arizona Cardinals it left many fans in a state of hysteria. They also saw safety Eric Weddle who was released after three straight Pro Bowl season and led the team in interceptions since 2016 despite not logging one last season sign with the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams days after he hit the open market and most versatile pass rusher Za’Darius Smith to the Green Bay Packers on four-year deal worth $66 million. After a year in 2018 where the Ravens finished the regular season as one of the hottest teams in the league, ended a painful three-year playoff drought, won the AFC North division crown for the first time since 2012 and fielded the league’s No.1 overall defense all arrows were trending in the right direction. However, new general manager Eric DeCosta was full away that he and the rest of the front office would be faced with some difficult decisions on the horizon after such a successful season as many teams with a lot more cap space them would be foaming at the mouth and chomping at the bit to sign their pending unrestricted free agents. DeCosta expressed his belief in retaining the team’s young and ascending home-grown talent but was adamant in his stance that they would not overpay for players even if they did draft and develop them as well as being responsible with the salary cap to ensure future financial security for the franchise. As they watched several members of their top-ranked defense sign lucrative deals elsewhere, many questioned the Ravens’ offseason methods and thought the process in letting so much talent walk out the door without making any corresponding moves in the 48-hour legal tampering period that saw a handful of their starters agree to terms with other teams. Well, the wait is over, and the Ravens have opened their checkbooks to secure two of top free agents on day three of free agency when they agreed to terms with former Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas to a four-year deal worth $55 million with $32 million guaranteed. They also poached the hammer of the New Orleans Saints one-two punch backfield combo when they agreed to a three-year deal with running back Mark Ingram worth $15 million. Thomas is considered the best ball-hawking safety in the league as the rangy defensive back can cover more ground in the blink of an eye quicker than anyone else at the position. The six-time Pro Bowler brings excellent ball skills, sure tackling and a reputation for bringing the wood with bone-crushing hits. He will take over as the orchestrator for a loaded Ravens secondary and will be a tremendous source of leadership to many of the young ascending defensive backs such as Marlon Humphrey and Tavon Young after being a founding member of the legendary “Legion of Boom” during his tenure in Seattle. Ingram has been one of the most productive running backs during his time with the Saints since being drafted in the first round out of the University of Alabama in 2011. The former Heisman trophy winner has been the other half of one of the best backfield duos over the last two seasons. He and third-year Pro Alvin Kamara combined for over 3,000 total yards in 2017 as they both made the Pro Bowl that season. He isn’t just a battering ram however, he can also contribute in the passing game as a sure-handed target out of the backfield that can take a screen or wheel route to the house or for significant yardage. With the signing of these two Pro Bowlers, the Ravens have put to rest the uneasy nerves of the vast majority of fans that were wavering in their faith in the new direction of the franchise and the new DeCosta regime going forward. The addition of these players will help supplement the loses in leadership and production of their dearly departed veterans that are now on other teams.