FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Ravens Best/Worst Free Agent Signings

Woodson Lewis Sharpe
Rod Woodson, Ray Lewis and Shannon Sharpe on the cover of Sporting News, November 2000

On March 11, 2012 we took a look at the best and worst free agent signings in Ravens history. Over two years later should the lists be modified? Might Elvis Dumervil be among the best? Michael Huff and Marcus Spears among the worst?

Should the order of the rankings be different?

Share your thoughts with a comment below…


As we approach the NFL hunting season (aka free agency) I thought to take a look back at the Baltimore Ravens best and worst free agent signings (emphasizing value) since the club’s inception in 1996, along with a quick random thought that comes to mind when reflecting upon the signing.



1. Shannon Sharpe ~ Sharpe brought leadership to the offense along with big play ability from the tight end position. His tutelage of Todd Heap and his support of Ray Lewis following the double murder trial and during the Super Bowl season were priceless. Consequently it is hard to imagine the club ever making a more impactful signing than Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe.

2. Sam Adams ~ While Tony Siragusa is remembered more affectionately given his comedic public persona, Sam Adams was the disruptive force on the Ravens D-Line that helped pave the way to Ray Lewis’ MVP performance.

3. Rod Woodson ~ The 49ers gave up on Woodson as a corner opting instead for former Raven Antonio Langham. Woodson arrived as a corner but made his mark as a Raven when he made the move to safety providing intelligence, athleticism and leadership to the defensive backfield.

4. Mike McCrary ~ Despite chronic knee problems the undersized McCrary’s unparalleled motor earned him 2 Pro Bowl trips to Honolulu.

5. Kelly Gregg ~ Discarded by the Philadelphia Eagles Gregg was a staple of the Ravens defense for a decade willingly accepting the dirty work for a star studded defense.

6. Derrick Mason ~ Tough, durable and reliable, Mason is the team’s all-time leading receiver and played in every game during his 6 seasons in Baltimore, four times eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark.

7. Matt Birk ~ Although he has never performed at a Pro Bowl level in Baltimore, Birk brought stability and leadership to the offensive line and each season the Ravens found their way into the playoffs.

8. Trevor Pryce ~ Never has a Raven been held more than Pryce whose signature slap-rip move was problematic for opponents. He was a pass rushing force for 3 full seasons in Baltimore from an interior line position.
9. Qadry Ismail ~ For three seasons the former return specialist was the team’s best receiver including the Super Bowl season, when offense was severely lacking in Baltimore.

10. Trent Dilfer ~ He wasn’t pretty and he wasn’t very effective but he was a leader when the Ravens sorely needed one. And if not for him the Ravens would have leaned on Tony Banks to deliver a championship and the rest of us would still be awaiting the club’s first Super Bowl appearance.

Honorable Mention: Vonta Leach, Bernard Pollard, Cory Redding, Jim Leonhard



1. Elvis Grbac ~ His teammates didn’t respect him and he was a quitter and a cap drain for years.

2. Leon Searcy ~ Big pay and never played a down as a Raven. Would anyone even recognize him if they walked by him? Former Steeler.

3. Dominique Foxworth ~ A reach of a signing from the start. Over valued by the club, Foxworth earned about $5 million per interception as a member of the Ravens.

4. LJ Smith ~ The former Eagle was signed to a one year deal worth $1.5 million in 2009. He caught 2 passes.

5. Mike Anderson ~ The Ravens signed the then 32-year-old Anderson to a four year deal for $8 million, including a $2 million signing bonus. Anderson ran the ball 54 times for 245 yards during his two seasons in Baltimore.

6. Corey Fuller ~ Best remembered for the back of his jersey, illegal card games and handgun violations.

7. Keydrick Vincent ~ Looked more like a matador than an offensive guard. Former Steeler.

8. Frank Sanders ~ Signed to a four year deal the 31-year-old Sanders was expected to be a starter. He caught 14 balls in his 13 games as a Raven for a paltry 170 yards.

9. Carnell Lake ~ ”He gives us a huge veteran presence,” then Ravens Coach Brian Billick said of Lake. Coach never really was a great talent evaluator. (see Kyle Boller, Adam Terry, Scott Mitchell, Elvis Grbac, etc) Former Steeler.

10. Bam Morris ~ Giving “junk in the trunk” new meaning. Former Steeler.

Honorable Mention: Kordell Stewart (former Steeler), Eric Green (former Steeler). Sensing a pattern here?

19 Raves on “FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Ravens Best/Worst Free Agent Signings

  1. Rob on said:

    Naturally I’m not a steelers fan, but the jabs at them about former steelers being poor free agent signings says to me that they knew what we didn’t beforehand. The pattern is they got rid of poor players and we then signed said poor players. Eh, Mr. teal shirt?

  2. Jake on said:

    Maybe one of the best things about the John Harbaugh era has been that he’s stopping trying to mimic the Steelers. Under his leadership the Ravens have surpassed the Steelers.

  3. Phil from Frostburg on said:

    If you are going to give Billick grief for poor signings under his regime, then you have to give him credit as well for the good ones. Nine out of the top ten on your list were signed with Billick as coach.

  4. Gus on said:

    Replace Bam Morris with Michael Huff, Bam was fun to watch and had a 4.3 ypc in ’96 – Huff’s legacy is the 7 TD’s they used as Peyton’s highlight reel at the ESPY’s.

  5. HotInHere on said:

    How is Elvis Grbac the worst? He got the team to the playoffs and won a playoff game with no running game to back him up. In the years between Vinny and McNair, he was the only decent QB we had. Quitter, disappointment, bad signing? Yes. Worse than Searcy and Foxworth? No chance.

  6. Matt on said:

    Let’s not forget Lee Evans! Dude torched us when he played for the Bills, then couldn’t stay healthy, then dropped the Superbowl ticket!

  7. DJ on said:

    Add Lee Evans to Top 10 worst – perhaps one of the biggest drops in Ravens history, and a bust all season.

    And add Jacoby Jones as one of the best FA signings. Great depth at WR, has stepped up multiple times when needed, CLUTCH in the playoff run and Superbowl in 2012. Plus, dude can dance!

  8. Jeff on said:

    Fun piece, but I’m shocked not to see Anquan Boldin or Jacoby Jones, in that order. What would Flacco have done without Boldin as his security blanket in the playoffs, especially in the Super Bowl run? There aren’t many, if any, receivers who could have made the catches Boldin during that run. Also there is no way we even get to the Super Bowl, let alone win it, without Jacoby Jones. Those two seem much harder to replace than Birk, Leach (honorable mention), Pollard (honorable mention and easily replaced by Ihedigbo who was already on the roster). Also the Ravens defense still would have been great even if you take away any of those defensive players mentioned because there was a such a solid, home-grown core. When you have Lewis, Rice, Ngata, Suggs, Scott, and many others, you don’t need to get lucky with free agency. Without Boldin or Jones, the Ravens could not have scored points and no way they win the Super Bowl. That should put them above any defensive player on the list.

  9. Cheri on said:

    Tony I noticed you mentioned former Steelers whenever the player did not work out but what about the ones who did? I dislike the Steelers as much as the next person but we also had some good luck with some former Steelers. Other then that this list seems about right to me. I was going to say Frank Johnson wasn’t that the WR the Ravens got from Jacksonville about 8 or 9 years ago? But that was a trade and not a very good one at that as it cost the Ravens a 4th ROUND PICK. Maybe you can do one as a top 5 best and worst trades where guys like Johnson, Banks and Mitchell will surly be deserving to be on there. And guys like Boldin and Monroe would be best

  10. Rodrigo on said:

    I disagre in Mason at 6.
    After Sharpe and Adams, I can´t see anyone better and most valuable than him… He was the entire offense for 3 or 4 years.

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