- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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With offensive tackle Michael Oher getting released after one season with Tennessee Titans, the Baltimore Ravens blog will look at the notable free agents not re-signed by the team in 2014 and how they fared:
Team: Buffalo Bills
Position: Defensive back
Contract: Four years, $16 million ($6 million guaranteed)
How Graham fared in 2014: The Bills capitalized on Graham's versatility, using him at safety as well as cornerback. After Leodis McKelvin went down with a season-ending ankle injury, Graham started the last six games at cornerback and really excelled. He was rated as the No. 8 cornerback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Graham was also voted as a team captain in his first season with the team.
Did the Ravens miss Graham? Without a doubt. This was the loss that impacted the Ravens the most. Graham would've filled in for the three games missed by Lardarius Webb at the start of the season and the eight games missed by Jimmy Smith at the end of it. The run of injuries and bad play at cornerback forced the Ravens to start five backups (Chykie Brown, Asa Jackson, Dominique Franks, Anthony Levine and Rashaan Melvin). The Ravens thought they could get by with Jackson or Brown as their No. 3 cornerback instead of giving a pricey, $4 million-per-season deal to Graham. They were wrong.
Team: Detroit Lions
Contract: Two years, $3.15 million ($750,000 guaranteed)
How Ihedigbo fared in 2014: He immediately became one of the leaders in Lions' locker room, forming one of the better safety tandems in the league with Glover Quin. Ihedigbo graded as the 14th-best safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. He endured some tough stretches (like getting benched against the Green Bay Packers), but he was named a Pro Bowl alternate.
Did the Ravens miss Ihedigbo? While some Ravens officials would disagree, the Ravens could've used Ihedigbo at safety this season. Darian Stewart, who was No. 20 in PFF's safety rankings, didn't make enough plays and allowed too many. Ihedigbo intercepted four passes to Stewart's one. The Lions gave up seven passes that traveled over 25 yards in the air, and the Ravens allowed more than double that number (15). Based on the numbers, it wouldn't be a stretch to say the Ravens made the wrong decision in not keeping Ihedigbo for another season.
Team: Indianapolis Colts
Position: Defensive lineman
Contract: Five years, $33 million ($16 million guaranteed)
How Jones fared in 2014: Jones was a difference maker on run defense, and that was underscored by how the Colts played when he missed seven games with an ankle injury. Without Jones, the Colts allowed 4.6 yards per carry and 12 rushing touchdowns. With him on the field, Indianapolis gave up 3.7 yards per carry and two rushing touchdowns. "He’s very disruptive," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said of Jones. "He does a great job along with those other guys of forcing double-teams. He commands a double-team. He’s sideline to sideline. He’s a great-effort, great-energy guy."
Did the Ravens miss Jones? Not really and that's a credit to the Ravens' drafting on the defensive line. The emergence of nose tackle Brandon Williams, a third-round pick in 2013, and the immediate impact of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, a rookie second-round pick, more than filled the void of Jones. That's saying a lot because Jones was arguably the Ravens' best defensive lineman in 2013. The Ravens allowed 88.3 yards rushing per game and 3.6 yards per carry in 2014 -- which was much better than their 2013 numbers with Jones (105.4 yards rushing per game, 3.8 yards per carry).
Team: New York Giants
Contract: Two years, $4.5 million ($600,000 signing bonus)
How McClain fared in 2014: He took over for injured Jon Beason as New York's starting middle linebacker in Week 2 and finished with a career-high 116 tackles, which ranked No. 13 in the NFL. The Giants were pleased with how McClain handled the responsibilities of making the calls and getting lined up, but he looked like a backup pushed into a starting role. The Giants finished last in the NFL with 4.9 yards per carry allowed.
Did the Ravens miss McClain? There was no need for McClain, or any other inside linebacker for that matter. Inside linebackers C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith each played over 96 percent of the Ravens' defensive snaps at a high level. McClain would've been a special-teams player for the Ravens in 2014.
Team: Tennessee Titans
Position: Offensive tackle
Contract: Four years, $20 million ($9.35 million guaranteed)
How Oher fared in 2014: Not well, given the Titans released Oher after one season. His steady four-year decline with the Ravens continued in Tennessee, where he ranked 75th among offensive tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. Oher allowed six sacks and 26 quarterback hurries and committed six penalties. Even Oher's durability -- which became his biggest strength -- didn't hold up with the Titans. He missed the final five games with a toe injury that required surgery. No one was blindsided by Oher being one-and-done in Tennessee.
Did the Ravens miss Oher? No. In fact, one of the Ravens' best offseason moves was letting Oher sign elsewhere in free agency and promoting Rick Wagner to starting right tackle. Wagner didn't look like a fifth-round pick or a first-year starter in 2014. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 3 right tackle behind New England's Sebastian Vollmer and Philadelphia's Lane Johnson. Wagner was cheaper than Oher, earning $495,000 in 2014 compared to Oher's $6 million in base salary and bonuses. And Wagner played better than Oher.
LB Josh Bynes (Lions) played in 13 games (no starts) after being signed off the Ravens' practice squad in late November. He finished with 22 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.
WR Tandon Doss (Jaguars) was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury before the regular season started. He signed a two-year, $1.5 million deal with Jacksonville in March.
OL A.Q. Shipley (Colts) was the starting center for the first four games before being benched. He only made one more start the rest of the season, and that was the regular-season finale.