Ravens End Quiet Free-Agency Start

After a slow start to free agency, the Ravens made four moves on Friday.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Friday, March 23rd, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Categories: 2012 Offseason, Garrett Downing

For the first 10 days for free agency, the Ravens were quiet.

Outside of a few free-agent visits and the re-signing of veteran center Matt Birk, the Ravens stayed out of the headlines.

That changed on Friday.

Baltimore brought in two new players and reached deals with two of their own free agents, agreeing to contract terms with linebackers Jameel McClain and Brendon Ayanbadejo (three years) and defensive backs Corey Graham (2 years) and Sean Considine (1 year).

“Obviously we’ve been very patient, but we’ve been working,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re trying to do things that will put us in position to make our team better. I think we’re kind of methodical in our approach and want to make smart decisions, want to make wise decisions.

“Nobody is better at that than Ozzie Newsome.”

Harbaugh: Ravens Took Patient Approach

Keeping McClain in Baltimore allows the Ravens to hold onto one of their top defenders, who has started at inside linebacker the last two years and finished second on the team in tackles last year.

With Ayanbadejo, Graham and Considine, the Ravens added some depth to their defense and also brought reinforcements to a special teams unit that struggled at times.

“We’re shoring up our team in certain areas, areas that we think we need to improve,” Harbaugh said. “In some cases you’ve just got to keep the guys we’ve got, which is not easy to do. We’re excited about where we’re going.”

The moves were met with a sense of relief, after the Ravens saw some of their own players leave town and were also spurned on at least one occasion in the opening days of free agency.

Ben Grubbs (New Orleans), Cory Redding (Indianapolis), Jarret Johnson (San Diego), Haruki Nakamura (Carolina) and Tom Zbikowski (Indianapolis) all left Baltimore for new teams, and then left guard Evan Mathis turned down an offer from the Ravens to remain with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Ravens also reportedly visited with receiver Ted Ginn and pass rusher Mark Anderson, but Ginn ended up re-signing with San Francisco and Anderson went to Buffalo. It’s unknown if the Ravens offered contracts to either player.

But as players went elsewhere, which created some panic amongst some fans, Ravens brass stuck to their plan.

“We knew it was something we were just going to have to ride out a little bit,” Harbaugh said. “It probably wasn’t as hard for me as it was for the fans because I had a little more of a front seat in what we were doing.”

A factor in the moves Baltimore has made – and not made – is the economics of the game.

Before the moves on Friday, the Ravens were reportedly $4.464 million under the salary cap for 2012, which didn’t give them much room to make a big-money splash on the open market.

“We had our limits to what we were going to be able to pay certain players,” Harbaugh said. “That was for our own guys that left and it was also for free agents out there that we were interested in. There just weren’t going to be big numbers that we were going to be able to spend on guys.”

Regardless of what happens in the next few months of free agency, Harbaugh emphasized that the one constant in the offseason is change – even if it takes some time for those changes happen.

“This is a tough league,” Harbaugh said. “There’s always going to be turnover. That’s part of it. But I think through all of that, you try to find a way to make your team better.

“Whatever move is made, whether it’s a coach leaving or a player leaving, you try to do whatever you can to improve through that.”

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