- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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General manager Ozzie Newsome said at the conclusion at the NFL draft that the Baltimore Ravens weren't finished building this team.
Newsome didn't really need to mention that. His track record speaks for itself.
The addition of cornerback Kyle Arrington is just the latest in shrewd, post first wave free-agency moves that have turned the Ravens into a perennial playoff team. It takes patience, discipline and a little luck.
The Ravens' philosophy has been to resist the urge to splurge early on other teams' free agents and wait for the better values (which also presents fewer risks). Over the last two offseasons, here are impact players the Ravens added after the first two weeks of the free-agency period: pass rusher Elvis Dumervil (set team record in sacks), running back Justin Forsett (NFL's fifth-leading rusher last season), linebacker Daryl Smith (leading tackler for the Ravens in 2013), tight end Owen Daniels (third-leading receiver) and safety Will Hill (started last eight games last season).
Newsome added to this list this week with Arrington, who reached a three-year, $7 million agreement with the Ravens. That's a great value when compared to the going rate for cornerbacks. There were 11 free-agent cornerbacks who signed contracts earlier this offseason that averaged more than $5 million per season. Arrington is getting less than half of that at $2.3 million per season.
Newsome acknowledged that it's tough to watch other teams land marquee players, especially when they're ones his team developed such as wide receiver Torrey Smith and linebacker Pernell McPhee. But the Ravens adhere to a financial discipline. Since 2010, the Ravens have signed one player from another team (Dumervil) to a contract that included more than $4 million in guaranteed money. Baltimore prefers to invest heavily in its own players, signing Joe Flacco, Jimmy Smith, Marshal Yanda, Terrell Suggs and Dennis Pitta to big-money extensions.
Of course, some of the success is good fortune. The Ravens didn't anticipate the fax fiasco with Dumervil two years ago, and they probably didn't expect Arrington to get cut loose after the draft. But, because the Ravens don't overspend early in free agency, they are the ones who have the cap room to capitalize when these unexpected moves occur.
The Ravens do their best work in free agency after the initial wave, and they proved it again with the addition of Arrington.