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The Effect of the Matt Birk Signing

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With the relatively unexpected signing of former Minnesota Viking center, Matt Birk, the Baltimore Ravens have made another huge statement to the rest of the league's players. Birk was born and raised in Minnesota, educated at Harvard and played eleven seasons with the Vikings. He had been honored with six Pro Bowl selections and was the unquestioned leader of the Vikings offensive line. He owned a restaurant and was deeply involved in charitable causes in the area. His wife was from the area and his kids were firmly settled in their life there.

Then why did he put that all aside when he signed with the Ravens? The Ravens brought him and his wife into the Castle in Owings Mills as a possible replacement for the departed Jason Brown, who had just signed with the St. Lousi Rams for $37.5 million over five years. Birk played in the black and blue division, the NFC North, twice per season against the likes of Shaun Rogers (then of Detroit), Grady Jackson (then of Green Bay), Tommy Harris (Bears), much less practicing weekly against his own teammates, DT's Pat and Kevin Williams. That proved to GM Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh that he had what it took to face off against the big DT's in our division. At 6'4" and 309 pounds, while he was not the heaviest center, he was among the tallest in the league and was athletic, but more importantly, smart enough to know the assignments and protect the middle of the offensive line for his QB.

Once he arrived at the Ravens Training Facilities, he was blown away by its impressiveness. When asked what he thought about it, his reply said it all.

"It's legendary around the league," Birk replied.

His wife left for Minnesota later that day and shortly thereafter packed up the kids and returned to Baltimore after they had made the decision to sign with the Ravens. For the Birk's to uproot their family and move to Baltimore after they had every reason in the world to stay and finish his career in the Twin Cities should have huge ramifications and caused large ripples throughout the league. Already known as a class organization, the Ravens have a great reputation as a great team to play for. Ownership values and respects its players, the team is like a family and players will continue to choose to come here for those reasons, topped off with a "lengendary" Training Facility. Too bad the "other" Baltimore sports team not mentioned here doesn't enjoy that sort of rep, huh?

If Matt Birk will make the huge step to change his address and come here, then this could open the floodgates for players to flock here when they become free agents. Combined with the positive comments made in the signing of CB Domonique Foxworth last week, the Ravens could be in for a bunch of great free agent signing opportunities in the coming years, if not the rest of this year's free agency period.

As Ozzie said in the press conference oficially introducing Birk to the Baltimore media, "We're not finished yet."

For more on the Matt birk signing, click here to see ESPN's Scouts, Inc. take.