ORLANDO, Fla. — In need of reinforcements along the defensive line, the Baltimore Ravens signed veteran free agent Cory Redding to a two-year contract that averages $3 million annually and installed him as their new starting defensive end.
Redding will operate as the replacement for Dwan Edwards, who recently signed an $18 million contract with the Buffalo Bills.
Team officials expressed confidence that Redding will provide an upgrade over Edwards because of pass rushing skills and his versatility as a player who can play defensive end or defensive tackle.
"We’re excited about Cory," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday during the annual NFL owners meetings at the Ritz-Carlton resort. "He fits us. He plays with a high motor, he plays with great energy. I think he’s really excited to be a Raven.
‘When you talk about how much he admires our defensive style and the way our guys play, kind of being in the mix with all of our guys on defense, Ray [Lewis], Ed [Reed], Haloti [Ngata], [Terrell] Suggs, he thinks it’s going to give him a chance to blossom as a player. I would agree with him."
However, Redding never emerged as the dominant force the Seahawks envisioned.
He only started three games and was limited to 20 tackles and two sacks.
The former University of Texas star was one of the most disruptive inside pass rushers in the NFL in the past during his six seasons in Detroit.
"This will sound a little like a broken record, but Cory is a guy who plays like a Raven," general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "He hustles, he plays with intelligence and he can play multiple positions like many of our defensive players. He’s been a starter at both inside tackle and defensive end. And I am sure our coaches will use him in both positions."
In the Ravens’ 3-4 defense, he should be able to line up as a defensive end. In 4-3 sets, the 6-foot-4, 295-pounder could play defensive tackle.
For his career, Redding has registered 326 tackles, 18 sacks, eight fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles.
"He can rush from the inside, rush from the outside, he can probably even play the rush position, which is where we put Dwan Edwards at times on first down last year," Harbaugh said. "I think he’s a similar player to Dwan. Obviously, Dwan had a great year for us. We’re hoping he fills that spot for us."
"He is that kind of player," Harbaugh said. "I think he’s been a really good player in that he’s stout enough and he plays really hard. He is a pass rusher in a lot of ways."
By signing Redding, the Ravens have removed a glaring need for acquiring a starting defensive end through the NFL draft.
Their most obvious remaining needs are at cornerback, tight end and a wide receiver to develop for the future.
"We never want to be that kind of team that has to draft for need and I don’t think Ozzie has ever had that philosophy," Harbaugh said. "You are going to get in situations sometimes where you have no choice because you have to fill a position.
"We get a player who can line up at defensive end and start for us. That means we don’t have to necessarily draft a guy to be a starter."
Drafted in the third round by the Lions in 2003, Redding was designated as their franchise player in 2007 and signed a seven-year, $49 million contract that included $16 million in guaranteed money. The deal was restructured when he was traded to Seattle.
Why didn’t Redding receive more immediate interest during free agency?
"I don’t know," Harbaugh said. "I didn’t really look at it that kind of way. He’s the kind of player you would think would be highly sought after. We watched him on tape, and we loved him from the get-go.
"I guess what some teams see in a guy and what other teams see in a guy isn’t always the same. We feel like he fits the Ravens really well."
NOTES: The Ravens weren’t awarded any compensatory selections due to their amount of players signed versus players lost in free agency under the formula used by the NFL management council. … When Edwards signed with the Bills, he told the 24×7 that the Ravens withdrew their offer to him and wanted him to have another neck surgery after undergoing spinal fusion surgery two years ago. Asked about Edwards’ comments, Harbaugh declined to comment specifically on the medical issue. "We’re always going to put players’ safety absolutely first," Harbaugh said. "We’re never going to let a guy be in a position where he’s going to be at risk." … The NFL postponed the release of its featured prime-time games for the opening weekend of the schedule and Thanksgiving games. It’s expected to be announced today. The Ravens have been rumored as a potential road opponent for the New York Jets on Thanksgiving night, but there are indications that the Miami Dolphins are more likely to be scheduled for that game.