On Thursday, it was reported that Ravens free agent safety
Haruki Nakamura was visiting the Carolina Panthers. Nakamura, a spot player and
special teams ace during his four-year run in Baltimore, was said to be looking
for a situation where he could contribute more on defense; if not competing for
a starting spot then at least being in the regular rotation more than he was
with the Ravens. After contributing moderately in 2010, Nakamura was seemingly
the odd man out of the Baltimore secondary in 2011, playing only 39 defensive
snaps in 16 games.
The Panthers, it seems, were prepared to offer him that
According to Ravens 24×7’s Aaron Wilson, Nakamura has today
reportedly agreed to terms with Carolina on a three-year deal.
Selected by Baltimore in the sixth round in 2008, Nakamura,
25, was thought to be an insurance policy for All-Pro safety Ed Reed entering
that season. Reed was dealing with some injuries following the 2007 season, and
the Ravens’ front office wasn’t sure of his status moving forward. Along with
Nakamura, the Ravens also selected Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski in the 2008
draft. While both players have contributed on special teams during their four
years in Baltimore, when Reed has been unable to go, it has been Zbikowski, not
Nakamura, who heard the call.
The former Notre Dame Fighting Irishman is also a free agent
this offseason, and the Ravens will likely turn their focus to trying to retain
him. With Reed still dealing with a nerve impingement in his neck that could
end his career at any moment with the wrong kind of hit, Baltimore certainly
doesn’t want to enter the NFL Draft next month with a severe lack of depth at
safety hanging over their heads.
Personally, I would have preferred the Ravens hold onto ‘Ruki
over Zibby. While the terms of the deal with Carolina have not yet been
released, I would think that a fourth year player who has never started a game
in his NFL career wouldn’t demand the kind of contract that the Ravens wouldn’t
have been able to offer. If I were Ozzie Newsome, I would have given Nakamura
some insurance that he would be Reed’s primary backup entering the season, and
would have let Zbikowski walk.
Obviously, the Ravens front office didn’t see it that way,
and, as always, I find myself repeated the mantra that has proven true time and
again…”In Ozzie we trust.”