In the spirit of March Madness and NFL free agency, I thought it might be fun to put together a bracket related to the Ravens, with the Baltimore Beatdown community voting for who advances and who doesn't.
What I decided to do was put 32 Ravens free-agent signings in team history and have them battle it out bracket style.
A few notes for the first round:
1) Matt Stover does not count since he was a Browns free-agent signing. When the team relocated, the Ravens did not bring over the Browns history. So in essence, Stover just kind of showed up and wasn't a free-agent signing.
2) Willis McGahee was sort of a free agent but not really. With his contract expiring the Bills traded him to the Ravens before the new league year began, and then the Ravens worked out a new deal immediately after. Since it was technically a trade, McGahee is not involved.
3) I didn't include undrafted free agents, just guys that had at least played games or been on a different roster previously.
Other than that, here goes. Each bracket is divided into four regions. This one is the Terrell Suggs Region.
About each player and matchup:
No. 1 Derrick Mason vs. No. 8 Brendon Ayanbadejo
Mason signed with the Ravens in 2006 after beginning his career with the Titans. He went on to become the Ravens' most prolific receiver with 5,777 yards and 29 touchdowns. Mason was a safety net for Joe Flacco, helping the then-young quarterback on early in his career. He retired as a Raven instead of as a Titan.
Ayanbadejo enjoyed two stints with the Ravens. The first was brief in 2001. But he came back to Baltimore in 2008 after making a name for himself across the league as a special-teamer. Ayanbadejo made one Pro Bowl appearance for the Ravens in 2008, the same year he was also named an All-Pro. He was on the 2012 team that went on to win a Super Bowl.
No. 4 Bernard Pollard vs. No. 5 Bennie Anderson
Pollard came in a bit unheralded, signing with the Ravens after a stint with the Texans. He was competing for the starting strong safety spot with Tom Zbikowski in training camp and ultimately, a concussion to Zbikowski gave Pollard his opening. Pollard's tenacity on the field was ever-present as he became the kind of box safety the Ravens were looking for. During the 2012 season, Pollard played through some games with cracked ribs. His two-year stint with the Ravens ended with 126 tackles and two interceptions.
Anderson was undrafted in 2000 and began his career with the Rams, though he was unable to make the team out of camp. In 2001, Anderson kept his football dream alive with the XFL's Chicago Enforcers. The Ravens then took a chance later that year for the NFL season, which paid off. Anderson would start every game that season and would go to spend the next four years in Baltimore at right guard.
No. 2 Steve Smith vs. No. 7 Ricky Williams
Smith has only spent one season in Baltimore but made a splash in a big way. Smith caught 79 passes for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns, despite being written off by his former team, the Panthers. Speaking of the Panthers, Smith torched them for a season-high 139 yards and two touchdowns. An ageless wonder, Smith is immediately among the best free-agent pickups in team history.
Williams was by no means a top contributor by the time he made his one-year cameo with the Ravens. But he did play a valuable role subbing in for Ray Rice when needed. In 2011, totaled 108 carries for 444 yards and two touchdowns. Rice was the bell cow but Williams provided a solid veteran runner in the backfield that the team could count on when Baltimore's starter needed a break.
No. 3 Tony Siragusa vs. No. 6 Owen Daniels
Siragusa signed with the Ravens in 1997 and endured three long and tough seasons before the dominating defense of 2000 emerged. Siragusa played a major role for that Super Bowl team inside on the defensive front. Siragusa spent five seasons with the Ravens before retiring.
Daniels was signed to a one-year contract to provide tight end depth behind Dennis Pitta. But when Pitta dislocated and fractured his hip for the second consecutive year, Daniels was needed to step in. Familiar with the Gary Kubiak offense that he spent his entire career up to that point in with the Texans, Daniels went on to total 48 catches, 527 yards and four touchdowns. Daniels then left in free agency to Denver.
The winner of this region plays the winner of the Ed Reed Region, which will be posted soon.