Friday, March 23, 2012
Recapping Ravens' 'special' signings
By Jamison Hensley
After one signing in the first 10 days of free agency, the Ravens seemed like they were signing someone every hour today.
In total, the Ravens added four players: inside linebacker Jameel McClain (re-signed for three years), outside linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (re-signed for three years), cornerback Corey Graham (signed for two years) and safety Sean Considine (signed for one year).
What does this all mean? The Ravens kept one starter (McClain) and addressed special teams with the three other signings.
“It’s a good day for the Ravens,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement.
It would have been a great day if the Ravens had signed guard Evan Mathis, defensive end Mark Anderson and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., all of whom visited Baltimore and signed elsewhere. But this was a necessary day for the Ravens.
You knew the Ravens would improve their special teams after allowing three touchdowns on returns last season. That obviously didn't sit well with coach John Harbaugh, whose expertise has been special teams.
The Ravens gave up an average of 11.9 yards on punt returns, which was ninth-worst in the NFL. They allowed 29.2 yards on kickoffs, which was second-worst in the league.
This leaves Baltimore extremely vulnerable in a division where you go against Pro Bowl returners Antonio Brown and Josh Cribbs twice a season.
That's why the Ravens went after Graham, a Pro Bowl special teams player last season for the Bears. That's why the Ravens re-signed Ayanbadejo, a three-time Pro Bowl special-teams player. And that's why they brought in Considine, who played special teams for three years with Harbaugh in Philadelphia.
"He’s our leader on special teams, and we needed him back,” Harbaugh said of Ayanbadejo. “He’s valuable to everything we do on [special] teams. And, adding Corey and Sean to those groups will help Brendon, who was double-teamed on most plays last season."
These signings won't make national headlines, but these are signings that the Ravens needed to make.