Who is manning the ship in Baltimore, and what have they done with Ozzie Newsome?
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is well known for sitting out the initial free agent frenzy, and scooping up the leftovers. Last year, the Ravens placed the Franchise Tag on Justin Tucker at virtually the last possible second. In addition, the Ravens brought in Mike Wallace, Eric Weddle and Jerraud Powers all in the latter stages of free agency.
Newsome also loves bringing in aging stars for low cost. Steve Smith Sr. and Weddle are great examples of this. Both came in on team friendly contracts and provided big impacts.
The Ravens under Newsome have never been the type of team to spend big money on the first day of the new league year. The Ravens build through the draft, and, as previously stated, signing the free agent leftovers at a low cost. This year, suddenly, everything we thought we knew about the Ravens front office was turned on its head.
The Ravens had almost no news at all coming out of the front office throughout recent weeks. It seemed the Ravens were destined for another quiet start to the offseason. Late Wednesday night however, Newsome and his staff opened up the floodgates. The Ravens agreed to deals with Tony Jefferson, Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mallett faster than the Baltimore Beatdown staff could type the stories.
The Ravens landed the best safety on the market in Jefferson, giving the team the best safety tandem in the NFL. Jefferson signed a four year, $36 million deal.
The addition of Woodhead seemed unnecessary at first, but following news of Kenneth Dixon’s suspension, the move instantly became brilliant. But the biggest move of all came on Thursday night.
The Ravens already dealt out big bucks, at least for the team’s standards, to Tony Jefferson. In most years, Jefferson would be the big move of the offseason for the Ravens. This isn’t most years.
On Thursday night, the Ravens re-signed Brandon Williams to a five year $54 million deal, making him the highest paid nose tackle in the NFL. Re-signing Williams is the biggest move the Ravens have made since re-signing Joe Flacco.
Ozzie Newsome went out and snagged a top tier player at his position with Jefferson, but he did it again in retaining Williams. This could not be any more uncommon for the Ravens. So often, the Ravens let star homegrown players walk away, but not this year.
The one fear is that the money dealt out will prevent the Ravens from addressing the big three needs, wide receiver, cornerback and pass rusher. While that may very well be the case, Newsome will fill those holes in the Draft, the way we all expected them to be filled originally.
Never before has Ozzie Newsome been this aggressive in free agency, but his work this year has largely changed the complexion of the 2017 season. With Jefferson and Williams added to the lineup, the Ravens, on paper, will have the best run defense in the NFL in 2017.
The Ravens threw short screens to running backs a lot last season, and in response, the Ravens added one of the premier receiving backs in the NFL, Danny Woodhead. Woodhead will more than fill the void left by Dixon during his suspension, and will provide a boost for the Ravens running game for each of the next three years.
Ozzie Newsome is putting together the most aggressive offseason of his career. The moves all put very high caliber players into big roles that could prove key for the Ravens to return to the playoffs. Take it all in, we may never see anything like this in Baltimore again.