While he didn’t go on ESPN to announce it, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe has decided to “take his talents to South Beach” and play for the Miami Dolphins next year.
As reported by the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson, Ellerbe has reached an agreement with the Miami Dolphins on a five-year, $35 million contract, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.
This despite the fact that Ellerbe and the Ravens were reportedly negotiating right up until the 4 PM deadline to Tuesday, with both sides hopeful that an agreement could be reached to keep the linebacker in Baltimore.
Now the Ravens have an even larger hole to fill in the middle of their defense following the retirement of Ray Lewis and with Jameel McClain’s status uncertain due to injury.
In addition, they lost Paul Kruger earlier in the afternoon to the Cleveland Browns.
The Ravens had definitely wanted to re-sign Ellerbe for some continuity going forward, but it appears that they were unable (or unwilling) to match what Miami was willing to pay, and Dannell went after the money.
It’s possible Ellerbe didn’t even give the Ravens a chance to match Miami’s offer – more details should surface in the coming days.
For now, the Ravens have to make inside linebacker a huge priority moving forward, either via free agency (where the pickings are slim), or in April’s draft.
Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County times has suggested that Courtney Upshaw may move inside.
Wouldn’t be surprised at all at this point for the
#Ravens to consider moving Courtney Upshaw inside to middle linebacker
Personally, though I like him as a player, I was a little uneasy with the prospect of giving Ellerbe a huge contract considering that he has never played more than 13 games in a season during his four year career (and has never started more than seven).
The good news is that the Ravens should have plenty of salary cap space for not only the ILB spot now, but also for other areas of need (left tackle jumps to mind).
For now, I’ll sit back and continue to trust in Ozzie.
h/t John Mann