To wrap up our five part series on the “Baltimore Ravens: A Season in Review”, today we will touch down on the best and worst offseason moves by the Ravens front office. For “The Best” we are once again seeking value. For “The Worst”, well let’s just say that the choices are fairly self explanatory.
THE BEST OFFSEASON MOVES
2009 NFL Draft Pick (No. 23 overall) Michael Oher, T: The Ravens originally had their sights set on OK State TE Brandon Pettigrew but to their surprise two things happened: 1) The Lions surprisingly selected Pettigrew at No. 20 and; 2) Michael Oher remained on the board despite most projections suggesting he would be gone in the top third of the draft. When the best player on the board is a need pick, that is value. In 2009 Oher delivered that and then some and was the runner-up Offensive Rookie of the Year.
2009 NFL Draft Pick (No. 88 overall) Lardarius Webb, CB: The Ravens thought they would never select a corner this early in the draft from a small school again after the disappointment of David Pittman. But Webb’s explosiveness, instincts and toughness proved to be too irresistible and in ’09 we saw why.
Undrafted free agent signing Dannell Ellerbe, LB: Ellerbe was slowed by injuries during his senior season at Georgia plus he had some off the field issues leading to an arrest. Despite that some thought he could be chosen as high as the second round in the 2009 draft. But teams steered completely clear of Ellerbe and he went undrafted. The Ravens signed him and he opened eyes during training camp. He eventually beat out Tavares Gooden and Jameel McClain for the ILB next to Ray Lewis.
Free agent signing Matt Birk, C: The Ravens let Jason Brown go to St. Louis as a free agent without much of a fight. His $20 million in guarantees pales in comparison to the Birk’s 3 year deal for $12 million.
Free agent signing Kelley Washington, WR: Washington proved to be a welcomed addition to the Ravens receiving corps as the team’s No. 3 receiver. Despite limited snaps Washington had the same number of catches and TD’s as No. 2 wideout Mark Clayton (34-2).
THE WORST OFFSEASON MOVES
Not re-signing Matt Stover/Opting for inexperienced Steve Hauschka: No qualms here about moving on from the Stover era but to do so with a player having limited experience? On a team one game removed from Super Bowl XLIII? Hauschka lasted all of 9 games; hit 69% of his FGA’s (9/13) with a long kick of 44 yards.
Re-Signing Samari Rolle: Rolle signed a four-year contract that carries a total value of $10 million with $3 million of that figure paid in 2009, according to NFL Players Association figures. Rolle never saw the field in 2009. The signing was peculiar to say the least.
Signing LJ Smith: John Harbaugh was intimately familiar with Smith’s propensity for injury from his days in Philly yet they made a play for the former Eagle anyway. For the $1.5 million the team paid for Smith’s services in ’09 they received two catches and a couple of special teams penalties in return.
Terrell Suggs’ new contract: Before Suggs takes the field in ’10 he will have been paid $38.1 million of his six year, $62.5 million deal. In exchange Suggs reported to camp overweight, was involved in a domestic dispute with the mother of his children, delivered his lowest output of tackles (59) since his rookie season and the fewest sacks (4.5) in his career.