The Baltimore Ravens have key unrestricted free agents throughout their defense, and the defensive line is no different. The unit already boasts one of the top defensive lineman in the game in Haloti Ngata, but the player who may have made the biggest impact on the D-line this season was defensive end Arthur Jones.
Jones had a breakout year in his third season in the NFL after a quiet first two years as a pro. Jones finished tied for third on the Ravens in sacks with 4.5, as he entered the season with zero career sacks. He also forced a fumble and was the most consistent defensive lineman when you factor in the injuries that plagued Ngata for much of the season.
Like many of the members of the Ravens’ defense, Jones elevated his play when the postseason began. Jones finished the postseason with nine tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries, and was an integral part of the Ravens winning the Super Bowl.
Thus, with Jones stepping up and being a leader on defense, the Ravens rewarded Jones with a one-year deal worth just over $2 million. The deal makes sense for both parties, as it gives Jones more confidence and a raise, while the Ravens get a solid young defensive end at a price they can live with considering their salary cap headaches.
Jones’ stellar season was worthy of a raise as he came off his rookie contract, but the short nature of the deal gives the Ravens an insurance policy should Jones regress. He appears to be coming into his own, but the Ravens want to make sure Jones’ season wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
Jones is the first member of the Ravens’ defensive free agents to be re-signed, as big pieces like Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Ed Reed are all unrestricted.
The signing of Jones comes the same day the Ravens dealt Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick and roughly a week after the mega-deal for Joe Flacco. It figures to be a whirlwind free agency season for the Ravens which officially begins tomorrow, March 12 at 4 p.m. EST.
Follow James on Twitter @JT3sticks