Here are some additional thoughts on Stallworth and the Ravens:
- Aaron Josefczyk/Icon SMI
If the season started today, Donte' Stallworth would probably be the Ravens' No. 1 receiver.This signing is in the same vein as Matt Jones' deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. It is a high-risk and high-reward move for Baltimore. Stallworth's case of DUI manslaughter was certainly the more severe of the two incidents. But a base salary of $900,000 is not much if Stallworth learns from his mistakes and is productive next season. Look for Stallworth and Jones to be closely monitored in 2010.
Both signings show how desperate the Ravens and Bengals are to improve their thin corps of receivers. Baltimore doesn't have any of its top four receivers from last year under contract for 2010. If the season started today, Stallworth is probably the Ravens' No. 1 receiver, which shows they have a long way to go to improve the position. It's likely the "Final Eight Plan" also played a role in the Ravens getting Stallworth while they can in what should be an extremely tight free-agent market. Last month Baltimore lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Indianapolis Colts.
I covered Stallworth for one year while he was with the Cleveland Browns in 2008. To me, he came across as an intelligent person and thoughtful, despite his mistake. I would be surprised if Stallworth doesn't realize how lucky he is to be able to resume his NFL career. Ravens coach John Harbaugh also worked with Stallworth when both were with the Philadelphia Eagles. Considering Stallworth's demeanor, I can see how the meeting went well enough with the Ravens to convince the team he deserves another chance.
How much can Stallworth help on the field? That remains to be seen. Stallworth hasn't played a down since 2008, and even then he struggled with injuries and production with Cleveland. But from what I'm told, the Ravens liked Stallworth's workout this week and the shape that he's in. Also, getting into the offseason program early can only help.