Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Grading Ravens' 2013 free-agent signings
By Jamison Hensley
Free agency begins in 13 days, and the Baltimore Ravens need to do better with their signings next month than they did in the first wave of free agency last year. Half of the free agents signed by the Ravens from other teams didn't finish the season in Baltimore. This is one of the reasons why the Ravens went from Super Bowl champions in 2012 to an 8-8 team last year.
Let's grade the Ravens' free-agent signings from last March:
Position: Defensive end
Former team: New York Giants
Contract: Signed a three-year, $8 million contract. The deal contained $2.84 million guaranteed.
How it turned out: Canty was solid but not spectacular. He started off fast with a sack in two of his first three games. But Canty didn't have another one in his final 12 games. He showed his athleticism by batting down four passes. The Ravens were just expecting more of an impact from Canty.
Position: Outside linebacker
Former team: Denver Broncos
Contract: Signed a five-year, $26 million contract. The deal contained $8.5 million guaranteed.
How it turned out: The Ravens brought in Dumervil to get after quarterbacks, and he finished with 9.5 sacks, which was second-most on the team. But he faded in the final two months of the season. Dumervil recorded nine tackles and one sack in his final six games. He never made more than three tackles in a game and had three games without a tackle.
Contract: Signed a six-year, $120.6 million contract. The deal contained $52 million guaranteed.
How it turned out: It's easy to criticize signing Flacco to an NFL record deal after he threw a career-worst 22 interceptions last season. But Flacco didn't get much help from the worst rushing attack in team history and poor pass protection. This doesn't take all of the blame off Flacco, who forced too many passes. Still, Flacco delivered four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, which accounted for half of the Ravens' wins. He also threw for a career-high 3,912 yards.
Former team: Oakland Raiders
Contract: Signed a three-year, $6 million contract. The deal contained $1.5 million guaranteed.
How it turned out: Huff was the Ravens' most disappointing signing. He was supposed to replace Ed Reed, but he was benched after the season-opening 49-27 loss at Denver. Huff went through the motions on special teams. The Ravens cut Huff midway through the season after he made the glaring mistake of losing outside containment on a 44-yard kickoff return, which jump started the Pittsburgh Steelers' game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. He pocketed $2.35 million (when you include signing bonus) for a half a season of work.
Contract: Signed a one-year, $780,000 contract. The deal contained $65,000 guaranteed.
How it turned out: Ihedigbo was one of the bigger surprises on the Ravens' defense. A special teams player for most of his career, Ihedigbo finished second on the Ravens with 101 tackles and provided much-needed leadership. He was named the strong safety on the All-AFC North team. But, with the Ravens moving first-round pick Matt Elam to strong safety, Ihedigbo is expected to play elsewhere in 2014.
Position: Defensive tackle
Former team: Dallas Cowboys
Contract: Signed a two-year, $2.75 million contract. The deal contained $600,000 guaranteed.
How it turned out: Just like Huff, Spears was a bust. He never got in great shape and was outplayed by younger players like Brandon Williams and DeAngelo Tyson. The Ravens cut him after seven games. The impact of Spears in the defensive line rotation was never felt in an underachieving run defense, which ranked No. 13 at the time of his release.
Note: Middle linebacker Daryl Smith, one of the Ravens' top free-agent signings last year, was signed in the second wave of free agency in June.