Contrary to previous reports of the Baltimore Ravens’ demise, things are settling down for the defending champs. After it appeared the sky was falling on the Ravens’ defense, Ozzie Newsome showed why he is one of the best general managers in the NFL.
The loss of four key free agents along with the retirement of Ray Lewis created a gaping hole for a franchise synonymous with defense. However, Newsome had an answer for each situation all the while working with tight salary cap restrictions.
While Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams were getting big deals with other teams, Newsome was monitoring alternative options should the aforementioned players get big free agent contract offers.
Newsome got Elvis Dumervil for less than the amount Kruger received from the Cleveland Browns. Then Wednesday the Ravens signed safety Michael Huff for less than half the amount the Houston Texans gave Reed.
Huff is entering his eighth season and has played strong safety, free safety and cornerback all during his tenure with the Oakland Raiders. Thus, his versatility and price tag made him a great backup plan now that Reed is gone.
The signing also brings some stability to the Ravens’ secondary, which will look entirely different next season. With Reed, Williams and Bernard Pollard all gone, the signing of Huff was paramount and Newsome pounced for a price that could turn out to be quite a bargain.
Newsome has also filled holes with affordable veterans in defensive linemen Chris Canty and Marcus Spears. Arthur Jones was also re-signed and a healthy Haloti Ngata means the Ravens should have a better defensive line than last season.
Dumervil and a healthy Terrell Suggs will be two anchors for a linebacking corps that will need stability after losing Lewis, Kruger and Ellerbe.
Newsome has done a masterful job in the free agent portion of the offseason as the draft approaches quickly. The Ravens have 12 picks in the draft, so Newsome, John Harbaugh and company will have plenty of chances to fill the remaining holes at wide receiver, linebacker and in the secondary.
So, after a period of time where the Ravens’ championship defense was picked apart like buzzards on a carcass, Newsome has once again made the shrewd moves to right the ship. With key pieces on both offense and defense now locked up and a plethora of draft picks, Newsome has given the Ravens every chance to defend their title next season.
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