Ed Reed Departure Caps Off Catastrophic Off-season For Baltimore Ravens' Defense

By James Taylor III

Things have officially gone from bad to worse for the Baltimore Ravens. After it looked like there was optimism to re-sign defensive fixture Ed Reed, the game-breaking safety reportedly signed a two-year deal with the Houston Texans.

Houston laid out the red carpet for Reed, picking him up in owner Bob McNair’s private jet and subsequently selling him on the Texans. Reed became the Texans’ top priority after safety Glover Quin signed with the Detroit Lions. The financial terms Reed’s two-year deal are undisclosed at the moment.

For the Ravens, the loss of Reed comes less than a week after losing Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams via free agency. The loss of Reed hurts a little bit extra considering that the other face of the defense, Ray Lewis, is also gone. Losing Reed was the final piece of what can only be considered a complete disaster of an off-season for the Ravens.

Kruger was expected to sign elsewhere, as he signed with the Cleveland Browns. The loss of Ellerbe was a tough pill to swallow as the Miami Dolphins swooped in and gave Ellerbe a lucrative five-year deal. Ellerbe was supposed to slide into Lewis’ spot on the defense, but that notion is moot now.

Then, last Thursday, Williams was given a three-year deal worth more than $5.5 million per year. Williams emerged as a top-tier cornerback after Lardarius Webb was lost for the season in Week 6. The Ravens would have had a great one-two punch with Webb and Williams, but the Philadelphia Eagles targeted Williams and got their man.

In a cost-cutting move, the Ravens also released starting strong safety Bernard Pollard in a questionable move. Pollard was an intimidating force on the defense and led the team in tackles, so his release was puzzling as the rest of the Ravens’ defense was being pilfered away.

Now comes the loss of the greatest member of the Ravens’ secondary in team history. The Ravens’ secondary will look extremely different next season with the losses of Reed, Pollard and Williams. The Ravens did re-sign safety James Ihedigbo and still have Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham, but there is little doubt the Baltimore secondary will not be as productive and explosive next season.

As a whole, there are still some big names available that the Ravens could definitely use. Safety Michael Huff looks like a strong possibility now that Reed has reportedly left and Pollard has been cut. There are also some quality pass rushers available in Elvis Dumervil, Dwight Freeney, John Abraham and James Harrison, so the Ravens can take that route should they feel the need.

All the key losses will put even more stress on the upcoming draft to rebuild a defense that has been ravaged this off-season  Unfortunately for the Ravens, the draft can’t replace game-breakers and franchise icons like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis.

Throw in the rest of the losses and the Ravens’ defense will be a shell of yesteryear. The future looks bleak for the defense and the prospect of repeating seems impossible now.


Follow James on Twitter @JT3sticks

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