DANIELS AGREES TO DEAL WITH RAVENS
The Ravens are clearly committed to strengthening the supporting cast around quarterback Joe Flacco this season, after watching the offense struggle in 2013. The upgrading continued when the team announced last Thursday that they had agreed to a one-year deal with former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels.
Daniels has spent all eight seasons of his career with the Houston Texans, where he most recently played under former Texans head coach, and current Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Daniels is 31, and on the backside of his career, but amassed 385 catches and 29 touchdowns as a Texan.
Daniels will be the Ravens’ number two tight end, giving the team a substantial upgrade over free agent Ed Dickson, who never developed into the athletic weapon coaches had hoped he may become. Daniels sustained a leg injury and played in only five games in 2013, but was productive in 2012, when he had 62 catches and over 700 yards receiving as the Texans’ security blanket.
Daniels is a solid pickup for the Ravens, and gives the team two tight ends with the ability to catch 60+ passes. The tandem of Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels gives the team one of the more impressive tight end duos in football. Along with the addition of Steve Smith, the passing game should improve – barring injury – in 2014.
RAVENS ADD FORSETT TO STABLE OF RUNNING BACKS
The Ravens made it clear at the end of last season that the running game was going to improve, and they showed commitment to that plan on Friday, when they signed Justin Forsett. Forsett is a fifth-year player, who has never been spectacular, but the move gives the Ravens flexibility at the position.
With Forsett on the roster, (not to mention his familiarity with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak,) the Ravens won’t be forced to take a running back in the draft out of need. The Ravens are also reportedly still considering the pool of running backs expected to go in the second and third rounds.
Forsett will be listed as the team’s third running back, but may see carries, especially early in the season. With starting running back Ray Rice is potentially being suspended, and backup back Bernard Pierce having offseason shoulder surgery, the depth will be key out of the gate.
Forsett has never been a starter for an extended period in the NFL, but has proven he can be productive in short spurts throughout his career. When playing in Houston in 2012, Forsett averaged 5.9 yards-per-carry, a welcome stat to the Ravens’ much-maligned running game.
TERRENCE CODY RE-SIGNS ON ONE-YEAR DEAL
After watching defensive lineman Arthur Jones leave early in free agency, the Ravens re-signed free agent defensive tackle Terrence Cody to a one-year deal. Cody is a veteran, having played the last four years in Baltimore after being selected in the second round of the NFL draft.
Cody is physically imposing, standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 340 pounds, but he has struggled over the last couple of seasons to find the field, starting only four games over the last two seasons after starting every game in 2011. Cody has amassed 87 tackles over his Ravens’ career without a sack or interception.
Cody was limited last offseason by multiple surgeries including an operation on his hip, and missed four games in 2013 due to a sprained knee, but insists he’s fully healthy now. Cody will be counted on more this season in the team’s rotation along the line, so his health will be monitored closely.
Cody reflected on free agency after signing his deal, saying that, “I’m just happy to be back and to continue my career with the Baltimore Ravens. It was crazy. It’s a big waiting game the whole time. I got the deal done and now I’m back with the Ravens.”
ROLANDO MCCLAIN CONSIDERING RETURN TO TEAM
Retired Ravens linebacker Rolando McClain met with General Manager Ozzie Newsome last week to discuss a potential return to football. The former linebacker retired before last season, while the Ravens still owned his contract, and the 23-year-old feels he is ready to return after a year away from the field.
McClain says a year away helped him to prioritize his life, and to understand how good everything he had was. His retirement was in part because of his three arrests in a two-year span, but he now says he is ready to prepare for offseason workouts with the team.
McClain was selected with the eighth overall pick of the 2010 draft by the Oakland Raiders, and throughout his first three seasons in the league he had amassed 246 tackles and 6.5 sacks. He now feels he can come back and dominate the game the way he had hoped to in his first few seasons.
It is unclear what his role with the Ravens would be if he does return, as the team would likely list McClain behind Daryl Smith, Arthur Brown, and Josh Bynes on the depth chart. However, if McClain can capture some of what made him such a feared player in college, he has a chance to be an x-factor for the Ravens, especially on run defense.