Look Back At Free Agency Moves

What can previous acquisitions show us about the upcoming free agent period?

Posted by Garrett Downing on Saturday, March 10th, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Categories: Garrett Downing

The Ravens are gearing up for the start of free agency next week, and will head into the process looking to upgrade at a few key positions and to replace some of their departing players.

General Manger Ozzie Newsome has not provided many specifics about the direction the Ravens will go this year, but recent history shows they tend not to be big spenders on the open market.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t brought in big-name players.

Let’s take a look at what the Ravens have done in free agency during the last four seasons:

2008 Offseason:

This offseason was quiet for the Ravens on the free agency front, as the team’s focus was on re-signing outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and adding rookies that would be the cornerstones of the offense for years to come.

The Ravens drafted quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice, and then worked out a long-term contract extension with Suggs before the season started.

But the biggest offseason move was the hiring of Head Coach John Harbaugh, who has coached the Ravens to playoff appearances in each of his first four seasons.

In terms of free agency, the Ravens signed fullback Lorenzo Neal, tight end Keith Heinrich and cornerback Frank Walker. They also acquired cornerback Fabian Washington in a trade with Oakland.

2009 Offseason:

The Ravens made waves at the start of free agency by signing cornerback Domonique Foxworth, widely regarded as one of the top free agents available. He played well that season, but a knee injury forced him to finish the last two years on injured reserve and the Ravens cut him last week.

After signing Foxworth, the Ravens continued to build the defensive backfield by signing free agent cornerback Chris Carr, who was a solid player during his three seasons in Baltimore.

On the offensive side, the Ravens added a key piece by signing center Matt Birk, and he has started every game for the past three seasons.

Throughout the rest of the process, the Ravens added wide receiver Kelly Washington, backup quarterback John Beck and tight end L.J. Smith.

The biggest news of the offseason was the re-signing of linebacker Ray Lewis, who was an unrestricted free agent at the time. Lewis and the Ravens agreed to a contract that will allow him to finish his career in Baltimore.

2010 Offseason:

The Ravens got a jump on free agency by signing wide receiver Donte Stallworth in February, after he was cut by the Cleveland Browns. Stallworth was expected to bring an added element to the receiving game, but he caught just two passed in an injury-riddled season with Baltimore.

Newsome then continued to upgrade at wide receiver, trading third and fourth round draft picks to Arizona for Anquan Boldin, who has been the team’s top receiving target for the past two years. Boldin has arguably been one of the Ravens best offseason acquisitions in the past few years.

Just before the season started, the makeover of the wide receiver corps continued, as the Ravens signed veteran T.J. Hoshmanzadeh. He caught 30 passes and three touchdowns in his one season in Baltimore.

Wide receiver wasn’t the only position of focus this offseason, as the Ravens also added defensive end Cory Redding, veteran quarterback Marc Bulger, safety Ken Hamlin and cornerback Walt Harris.

2011 Offseason:

The biggest news once the NFL lockout ended and free agency opened was who the Ravens parted with, rather than who they brought to Baltimore. The Ravens cut veterans Todd Heap, Willis McGahee, Kelly Gregg and Derrick Mason, who were popular players and some of the most productive in franchise history.

The Ravens then used several weeks to tinker with the lineup and bring in quality free agents.

Baltimore signed safety Bernard Pollard, running back Ricky Williams and fullback Vonta Leach. Pollard and Leach both became starters and Williams was a complementary piece to Rice.

Leach was a Pro Bowl selection, and Rice routinely called him and Williams “the best things to ever happen to me.”

One of the most discussed moves of the offseason came in mid-August when the Ravens traded a fourth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for veteran wide receiver Lee Evans. The move didn’t pan out the way the Ravens hoped, as Evans struggled through an ankle injury and finished the year with four receptions.

Near the end of the pre-season, the Ravens picked up two players to solidify the offensive line, signing left tackle Bryant McKinnie and center Andre Gurode. McKinnie started every game for the Ravens and Gurode was a versatile option, spending time at guard and center.

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